Much of the work done at middle and senior management level, much of the consultation work, is simply the expression of ideas in a verbal form through reports, financial statements, contracts, and decisions. The result that ensues from the work of a financial, engineering, or industrial relations consultant is no less a product than the result of a heavy steel worker or an automobile engineer. A medical diagnosis is a product, and so is a lecture. A lecture may be written or given orally, it may be fixed in some laboratory apparatus, or given incidentally to the process of constructing, maintaining, or operating a machine. In any case, it is a product as we have defined the word.
Materiality is but one way to make an idea endure; ideas are also captured by the mind through language. A word is an idea in a form with a demand. Words are products, and just as one product subsumes another product, so some words or elements of language subsume others.*
Normally the economist does not consider banking as a product. It is considered a service. But this service is still an idea in a form with a demand. The idea is that there should be readily accessible finances, and the form is that of the check, the bank statement, the overdraft, etc. The term “Product” will therefore be used to cover the full range of the expression of an idea in a form with a demand and will include those services that a bank, insurance company, or a hotel provide.
*A fact is the express of an idea; it is that which arises when the idea has been limited by matter, energy, space, and time. We are inclined to believe that a fact is a mental construct only, yet it is well to remember that the word “fact” is derived from the Latin “facere,” which means “to do” or “to make.” From facere is also derived the French word “fait,” which means “do,” “make,” and “fact.” What a man makes or does derives from the idea that he perceives. All the artifacts of men are in a way “facts.” The manufacturing that a man originally did consisted of expressing the idea through fact by hand (In Latin, manus means “hand”). With the rise of capitalism, machines have taken the place of hands, but manufacturing is still basically the express of an idea through a form even though it occurs in factories rather than is studies.