Postconventional capitalism, time to transcend and include!

We grow and develop, at the same time we are part of bigger systems that grow and develop. While interchanging a part of our identity for the identity of the bigger organisms like companies, institutions, cities, nations. Branded like cattle with ideas and beliefs. Are these so-called organisms also prone to similar development as we are, since we are the cells creating them?

How would these organisms look like if they would have to follow these work guidelines :

  1. Include people with healthy postconventional stages of ego development to have a say in the organisms – to give more perspectives and more cognitive abilities to make better predictions and solve complex problems
  2. Include people with healthy postconventional levels of moral development to have a say in the organisms to uphold higher norms and ethics
  3. Follow all 5 rules of succesfull multigenerational family companies
  4. Incorporate Antifragile values into the foundation of the identity of the organisms

Lets start with where my uderstanding of the meaning of “postconventional” comes from. I have aslo included the earlier stages/levels for better understanding.

At this point I would like to mention that there are some conflicting opinions between the experts about the question: “If morality is already a part of ego development or can it be considered seperate?”. Why I kept them seperately is to show the importance of both at a postconventional stage. Since one could have a higher center of gravity in his ego development, but his moral development could be at a lower level.

Ego development – Susanne R. Cook-Greuter:

  • THE PRECONVENTIONAL STAGES – The first tier actions logics, Impulsive to Self-protective, represent a child’s normal maturation from birth to about age 12 as well as stages of “arrested” development in adults. Ego development theory further distinguishes among stages in this period. The earliest stage is given here for completeness only because we postulate that all human beings are born undifferentiated and symbiotically merged with their initial caregivers. The toddler or “potty potentate” has already achieved major transformations away from the very earliest helpless days. It is very rarely diagnosed in adults.
  • THE CONVENTIONAL STAGE – This covers the ego stages of most people after about the age of 12. We have found that roughly 80% of adults populate these this stage. In Piagetian terms it represents functioning at the concrete operational level, later uses abstract operations and stage at the end individuals rely on formal operations for their meaning making. People have a linear view of reality: objects are defined as having closed boundaries, causality is seen as linear and variables treated as independent. This is widely considered the adult stage in much of Western culture; and society and institutions support and reward its achievement. It is a necessary precondition for democracy to work since only a citizen capable of rational deliberation and choice based on pertinent criteria (not external features or sameness) can safeguard the whole and at the same time allow changes to be reflected in the laws.
  • THE POSTCONVENTIONAL STAGE adults come to realize that the meaning of things depends on one’s relative position in regard to them, that is, on one’s personal perspective and interpretation of them. Although the objects themselves are seen as permanent, their meaning is seen as constructed. This view of reality is called the systems view because it allows individuals to look and compare systems of thought or organizations with distance. A main concern of postconventional adults is to lay bare underlying assumptions and frameworks. From systematic operations to expanded cognition and metasystematic operations. People are able to integrate different frameworks of the self into a coherent new theory of who they are, that is, into a complex, coherent self-identity.

Moral development – Lawrence Kohlberg described 3 levels of moral development in children:

  • PRECONVENTIONAL – where self interest dominates and “being good” means avoiding punishment. Morality is externally controlled. Rules imposed by authority figures are conformed to in order to avoid punishment or receive rewards. This perspective involves the idea that what is right is what one can get away with or what is personally satisfying.
  • CONVENTIONAL – children come to understand rules and authority as part of a larger framework of social norms. Favor, acceptance, and a sense of order requires adherence to the rules. Conformity to social rules remains important to the individual. However, the emphasis shifts from self-interest to relationships with other people and social systems. The individual strives to support rules that are set forth by others such as parents, peers, and the government in order to win their approval or to maintain social order.
  • POSTCONVENTIONAL – level where they are capable of defining a personal code of conduct that integrates personal autonomy within a wider social order. The individual moves beyond the perspective of his or her own society. Morality is defined in terms of abstract principles and values that apply to all situations and societies. The individual attempts to take the perspective of all individuals.

5 commandmants / rules – research done into family companies, especially the ones that have survived for more than 3 generations and the rules that the majority of them were folowing to become successful:

  • Balance the motive of profit with the desire to help others.
  • Implement long-term planning, for example 25 years in advance and not just for the next month or year.
  • Getting shareholders that are committed and with emotions not like the profit driven crowd that owns today’s multinationals.
  • Introduce the concept of stewardship/guardianship, which is also closely related to family businesses. The trustee is accountable to the family, employees, customers and the community in which he operates. He is not the owner of the money, he is the caretaker of it.
  • Attention should be focused on social capital, which can be expressed not only as charity, but also as the reputation of a family or individual.

Antifragile values

  • Diversity
  • Interdependency
  • Connectivity
  • Adaptability

Ask yourself how would these guidelines change the situation your company/organism is currently operating. Take some time and make an assessment and if you don’t check all the boxes it is definitely time to make some changes. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure, change will come, if you are ready or not.

Before the 1960s, companies were mostly motivated by profits; good behavior was simply to avoid fines. Later, punishment avoidance was replaced by the recognition of the corporation as an agent within a larger economic system with its own accepted order and normative behavior. It wasn’t until the late nineties that corporations began to adopt principles of corporate social responsibility. And not until the beginning of the 21st century did corporate social responsibility start to become a corporate imperative. Hopefully we will see corporations advance to post conventional levels of social and corporate consciousness.

The new role models of the 21 century should be the stewards / trustees that have the capacity to lead the way froward.

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