February 04, 2013

The Moral Economy

During the World Economic Forum, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel on “The Moral Economy” with Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, and two outstanding CEOs.  Here are some quick takeaways from the discussion:

Several big themes emerged during the dialogue, including the fact that we have a broken social contract, the need for business to treat each person with respect, and the need to seek out ways to promote the common good through our institutions, including business.

On my part, I asserted that any company that only focuses on creating shareholder value will self-destruct.  General Motors, Kodak, K-Mart, and Sears Roebuck all lost their way.  They didn’t create shared purpose and values.  Leaders cannot run a company just with rules and regulations; instead, they must bring them together around a sense of shared purpose and values.  Then they have to align the incentives to reflect these needs.