Recently I came into a discussion with a Russian colleague of mine, someone who had not only experienced the downfall of the Soviet Union, but also the rise of capitalism in his own country, the negative impacts of helplessness and the sheer amount of consume and money-spending.
The discussion circled around the concept of shareholder value. Surprisingly for me, my Russian colleague stood totally behind this topic, supporting it and emphasising on the fact that capitalism and free market theory are the only effective concept to guarantee the spread of wealth among people contrary to communism belief.
I stood up to another idea: The superiorism of stakeholder value towards shareholder value, the idea that a company should be and actually already is part of society, its social networks and its social responsibilities. In my opinion shareholder value is only aspect of stakeholder value and only one of the aspects to be taken into account when a situation needs a decision.
Interesting enough our discussion went into a lot a lot a lot of details on how decisions are based on identities and values, on how companies should have what specific place in society, the role of governments in the way capitalism should act or enact and basically we both came to the same conclusion or at least we could agree to the same principle: that we are driven by ideas, that people are driven by values and that a system can never be just a system but is consisting of people. People grown up believing in principles and values.
Values they have inherited, they have learned. That our culture (see Hofstede) is telling us are worth to believe in.
Cultures, civilizations. Hofstede, Huntington.
In my opinion we need a change in present capitalistic thinking. Towards Stakeholder Value! A company cannot push away its responsibility towards society, government, competition, shareholders, employees, customers and suppliers. There is more to a company than pure concentration on the stockmarket. And I hope people in responsible positions will learn to base their decisions upon that.