The broader role of companies in our society

In the absence of responsible politics and politicians, companies are coming more and more explicitly forward in their willingness to take up part of the role where the politicians show themselves to be absentee landlords. You can read pretty much any politics related article on this blog to understand how I feel about that lack of responsibility from the side of our politicians.

However, as to corporates filling in that role, I was struck by this article in the Economist which points out some of the risks related to such an approach.

“Over the past 20 years industry and finance have become dominated by large firms, so a small number of unrepresentative business leaders will end up with immense power to set goals for society that range far beyond the immediate interests of their company.”

We may actually already be in such a scenario … when we look at how Facebook, Google and Twitter have behaved in the past. And that brings Neal Stephenson’s concept of a “distributed republic” closer than is good for comfort.

And while I remain firmly committed to the idea of corporate responsibility and – related to that – the ideas behind Frederic Laloux’s teal or liberated enterprises, we will need to think hard about creating a governance framework that ensures these large enterprises do not go out of control as well.