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individualismthe philosophy that individuals have their own unique set of wants and interests, and that they should be given free rein to pursue them. Those promoting this philosophy therefore advocate the removal of laws and regulations governing how people should behave. In the economic and business spheres, they argue, regulation stifles entrepreneurial creativity and inhibits responsiveness to market forces; if people can be freed from regulation they will become more highly motivated to succeed, whilst markets will be able to function more effectively, leading to benefits to society at large. They tend to be critical of TRADE UNIONS since they believe that unions elevate group over individual interests, and place restrictions on both their members' and managers' freedom to behave as they wish. Critics of this philosophy argue, however, that interests are in fact often shared (for example between groups of employees), that power resources are unequal and hence that collective action is therefore often necessary, and that unbridled pursuit of individual goals can damage the interests of others. See COLLECTIVISM, DEREGULATION.
Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson