Social Capital, Sustainable Development, and the Corporation
Stakeholder politics are strongly affected by long-term values shifts. The most significant values conflicts at the global level are between affluent societies with postmodern values and less affluent societies with traditional or modern values.
Modernization is the shift from traditional to modern values, like ‘progress’ and material acquisition. Postmodernization is the shift from modern values to self-expressive values concerning identity, rights, diversity, and the questionning of social standards. The shift from postmodernism to a quest for social cohesion and shared purpose is neo-tribalization. It is a retreat from reason and debate that leads to a new traditionalism.
International organizations like corporations often face stakeholders from societies in different phases of this cycle. For example, on issues related to environmental sustainability, various stakeholders hold divergent views like the following:1
Traditional values: Subsistence, living off the land requires local conservation
Modern values: Progress requires restricting the natural environment to parks and preserves
Post-modern values: Saving the planet requires governing the planet
1 For details see:
Boutilier,R.G. 2005. Views of sustainable development: A typology of stakeholders’ conflicting perspectives In M.Starik, S.Sharma, C.P.Egri & R.Bunch, (Eds.), New horizons in research on sustainable organizations: Emerging ideas, approaches, and tools for practitioners and researchers: 19-37. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf.