“Crisis of Huge Enterprises?” or “Crisis of Society!”

Preparing for my presentation on “dominant logics” (Dominanete Logik) was not the only reason why I made myself familiar with huge enterprises. Enterprises, their histories, their changes and their development are something that interests me. As a result, here is a list of some rather provocative theses:

  • Some huge leading companies control the world and have been building up a particularly privileged status over the decades or even centuries.
  • During the last few years, they have been using this position more and more often in a dominant way in order to increase their shareholder value. By now, they are absolutely oriented towards maximizing their profit and the value increase of their stock. This was not always their priority. I just heard of an enterprise that managed an EBIT-DA of a little more than 13 billion USD after a turnout of a little less than 36 billion USD (AE-InBev). As director of a medium-size company, this arouses my interest. Taking the same relation, we – with 12 million turnout – would have to present a result of 4.3 million; our customers would (justifiably) beat us.
  • Huge concerns seem to be more powerful than ever. Their power is caused by their international market position and helped along by strong logos. It is also assisted by them buying out the competition, investing massively in marketing and influencing all levels of the economical and political life through aggressive lobbyism.
  • They sacrificed traditional values for the goal “maximization of the shareholder value at any cost”.
  • In order to realize extremely good results, global enterprises minimize all and especially the labour costs by all means. As a reason, they state: this is the only way to survive on the global market. The consequences of this attitude can now also be seen in Germany.
  • In huge enterprises, I often detect a high measure of stubbornness caused by excessive process concepts. Bureaucracy increases, staff units mushroom, administration moves beyond control, and “legal services” dominate.
  • Planning plays the central role (on the way to VEB and Stamokap?). Everyone tries to reinforce the planning by target agreements.
  • The underlying theory is that people can best or exclusively be motivated by material re-imbursement. What a concept of human nature!
  • They are subjected to more and more general criticism and try to defend their market position, no matter how.
  • Regardless of a public and internally loud propagation that they are always acting in accordance with rules and regulations (compliance), unethical behaviour on a high level is on the incline.
  • Operationally spoken, the goals are reached by “quarter concepts”, which is not necessarily a good thing in terms of enterprise sustainability.
  • The huge enterprises are probably not doing themselves a favour.

The (for me central) question of the economical usefulness an enterprise has for the concerned economy and nations is no longer relevant. Some enterprises have even made earning money their exclusive end in itself.
Is it possible that the huge enterprises are now busy destroying themselves and sawing away the (capitalism) branch they sit on?

Well, we all, and our entire economy, live from those huge conglomerates. Are we caught in a trap? What will the future be? What comes after capitalism?

I get the impression that the huge concerns are only the tip of an iceberg that has been building over many years. In our current business life, this is the application of the “American-European” mentality nothing is impossible, efficiency is all that counts and all that matters is prosperity. Now, this concept is at its height. The “Christian” principle go and make the world your subject (seems to have) won with all the consequences.
The naive wisdom of the Indians or Massai seems to be lost, just like that of the Far East. Instead, the American-European culture of exploitation manifested itself. It is fed by the antiquated Christian self-concept of “Homo Sapiens is the Pride of Creation”. Just like the concept of consumption seems to have conquered (almost) all the world as a new religion, similar to the Cargo-Cult.

What gives me hope is the fact that, regardless of this development, a world-wide value shift seems to happen among the people. Even the Club of Rome recognized it (see my report on the presentation by Martin Lees, the Club of Rome Secretary General).

Resistance amasses in the form of grass roots movements, organizing itself as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO).  In archaically and dogmatically influenced societies, it finds a valve through terror against the West.

We should take this seriously. Yet, we should not fall victim to a corral mentality. The corral would be a new kind of Apartheid, and we all saw what that brought us.

I wish we had more enlightened anthropologists and philosophers, instead of all these responsible and pro-active politicians.

(Translated by EG)

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