Capitalism 2.0 – new horizons for managers Richard Straub in defence of a capitalism rejuvenated.
The world has been shattered by a series of crises since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008: the near shattering of the world financial system followed by a severe economic downturn across the advanced economies and the surfacing of a sovereign-debt disaster that has been building up during the past 30 years.
While the unethical behaviours and self-serving strategies of key players in the financial sector have become quite evident because of the mess, the issue has not stopped there. Many have begun to question the underlying values of the capitalist system as a whole.
The idea of “maximising shareholder value” with its obsessive focus on short-term results and pure financial measurements has been called into question in many quarters. Others have focused on what they perceive as a lack of ethical standards and values in business and a disregard for the common good.
Given the immense damage that the recent crises have inflicted on the world and its population, a robust discussion about the future of capitalism is appropriate. However, how that discussion is framed is crucial: should capitalism be tossed aside completely in favour of some other economic model or is there a way to improve the system and make capitalism work better in a new global context?
Capitalism under siege
Capitalism – and, with it, business leaders and managers – are under siege today. Populist movements on both the left and the right are offering up a slew of reactionary ideas, essentially calling for a return to a closed world. Meanwhile, businesses have lost much of their credibility with the public, as demonstrated by the recent Edelman Trust Barometer. Indeed, only government institutions have suffered a bigger drop in approval than businesses.
However, rather than be defensive and turn inward, managers must play a key role perhaps the key role – in the transformation towards a new capitalism.
We are now confronted with a fundamental question: are the financial meltdown and the debt crisis direct and necessary consequences of capitalism? Or have these things occurred due to abuses by a small minority of players – and in spite of a hugely efficient economic system that the vast majority of participants have used for positive ends?
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