Reading the news this morning, I came upon an article that sparked my interest. It was entitled: “No more business as usual: in ‘The Great Reset’ business schools must lead the way”. Following my curiosity, read through the article attentively (you can also read it here), and skepticism took over my mind. In the article, the two authors propose that,
Business schools need to become fully and authentically committed to resolving problems affecting not just business, but humanity as a whole. Central to their agendas should be applying all their knowledge and skills to dealing with wicked problems such as climate change, ethics and fairness, and disruption by digital technologies and artificial intelligence.
They further say,
The mission of business schools has evolved. Today their horizons have expanded towards improving well-being in society. Their stakeholders extend beyond students and businesses to include governments and not-for-profits.
Considering that fact that business schools, who single-mindedly promote a system that is rapidly destroying the planet and killing off its inhabitants, are going to be able to change the world before they change their mindset is absurd. In their obsession with the bottom line (nowadays there’s talk about triple and quadruple bottom lines), businesses lose sight of the real world. Economics has become no more than intellectual extravaganza, especially in the financial sector, with little to no connection to the real world. This is exemplified by the quote above.
In a globalized world, we are all stakeholders. We cannot circumscribe the impact of an action taken by a company embedded into the worldwide network of endless supply chains to a single community, region or country. Recognizing that fact is a positive thing, but it’s not enough. The world, as it is, has become too complex to manage. Businesses cannot claim to be able to solve the world’s problems when they are operating on a global scale, due to the simple fact that they don’t understand those problems. And this is key. Solutions coming from the top privileged class are bound to ignore the needs of the people, especially when seen from a panoramic, global perspective. This kind of “business positivism” is naive at best and deceitful at worst. There needs to be a paradigm shift in how we think of business and economics in general.
We need to invert the logic of how we operate. Globalization can be advantageous in many ways, but it needs to be reformed and come from the bottom up. Because true sustainability comes from guaranteeing that real needs are met utilizing the minimum resources available. That cannot be achieved in the immense complexity of such an interconnected world. Economic thinking will have to become more pragmatic if it wants to solve the problems of the people. Businesses will have to change too. When localized and owned by the workers that have not only stakes but also a deep understanding of the issues in their area, businesses can foster socially fair and economically resilient regions. These in turn will, by the impetus of their surplus goods, establish commercial relations with others who feel the same need to expand. Any other arrangement soon becomes economic exploitation and people suffer as we’ve seen over and over again, all over the world.