Business leaders need to relearn how to define good corporate performance
The fall-out from the world financial crisis continues unabated. For the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the tenets of western capitalism are being questioned in mainstream debate. Chief among them is our most basic assumption that growth is the primary goal of economic activity.
People in the field of ecological sustainability have been raising this question for a while, but now a number of business thinkers are openly wondering whether this is any longer sustainable. While there remain substantial disagreements about the trade-offs to be made, there does seem to be a general acceptance of the need for corporations to be more responsible as global tenants, to pay more attention to the broader consequences of economic activity and to adopt more sustainable practices.
If nothing else, the credit crunch has proved that industries, markets and society are increasingly interdependent. This interdependency arises from their human nature – our institutions are no more and no less than groups of people continuously interacting with each other, each with its own agenda and intentions.
Such a complex interactive process is inherently uncontrollable. The ever widening and increasing...