Time to rethink capitalism?

Jan 27 2009 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Have we reached a point at which the total cost of industrial capitalism has outweighed its benefits? As the cost of bailing out the World's financial system reaches trillions of dollars, it is easy to argue that we have.

Even if you don't accept this, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the world needs a new way of doing business, one that redefines the basic purposes and responsibilities of corporations and looks at far more than just the bottom line as a measure of success or failure.

In the first in a series of podcasts, Dawna Jones talks to Jay Bragdon, an investment advisor for high net worth families, author of Profit for Life and an evangelist for a very different way of doing business.

As he explains, two fundamentally different business models of capitalism are operating in the business world today. The industrial model, he argues, is self-destructive and increasingly corrupt. It sees a company solely as a profit-making machine whose growth is driven by nonliving assets. Its effects on nature and society are therefore externalities that divert attention from the simple goal of producing profit.

The other Ė Living Asset Stewardship (LAS) - is emergent, flourishing and inspirational because it is premised on two fundamental truths. First profit can only arise from life. And second, in a healthy world, profit must serve life.

Living Assets Stewardship encourages companies to care about more than just the bottom line and to prioritize the general health of the people, society, markets and the biosphere in which they operate. This means that companies that adhere to the model care about their employees' health and welfare, values and professional growth, trusting that the company's goals will be met if they are treated right.

But here's the kicker. Companies that follow LAS aren't just more stable, better employers, more reliable vendors, better neighbours and better members of the community, they're also better investments, as the Global Living Asset Management Performance (LAMP) Index demonstrates. So maybe there's something too all this, after all...

Whatever your take, this is though-provoking conversation that might just give you some hope for a better future.

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