A discussion yesterday afternoon got me thinking. The origination of the discussion was some comments around Google’s corporate motto “don’t be evil”.
In the “old economy”, business took a relatively long time to achieve scale. This time enabled them to learn some business ethical norms that resulted in them being “good corporate citizens” once fully grown.
The paradigm has changed and we have businesses achieving top-of-the-pyramid scale a mere handful of years into their operation. This fact results in something of a disconnect.
If it took many decades for an organisation of old to reach this scale and influence, they would, as a matter of course, have encountered many ethically challenging situations, and have developed robust processes for dealing with those ethical issues.
The supersonic growth companies of today do not have this learning curve and are therefore thrust into positions of huge power, potentially without the corporate maturity to deal with it.
I have no answer, and am sure someone will bring up Enron as an example that old economy businesses weren’t always lily white – however it’s an interesting area and one that is perhaps worthy of more thought and comment….