'We have to develop the character of capitalism as we go along'

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The Independent Online

To Jonas Ridderstråle, citizenship is a "critically important" part of the school curriculum. The author, with fellow Swedish academic Kjell Nordström of the book Funky Business, explains that it is one of the means of adding the character and compassion that capitalism needs to be sustainable.

To Jonas Ridderstråle, citizenship is a "critically important" part of the school curriculum. The author, with fellow Swedish academic Kjell Nordström of the book Funky Business, explains that it is one of the means of adding the character and compassion that capitalism needs to be sustainable.

"Capitalism, like communism, comes at a cost," he says. "Without sympathy or empathy to complement efficiency, the invisible hand that Adam Smith once wrote about quickly turns into a very visible fist coming down on those who lack competence and cash."

To Jonas Ridderstråle, citizenship is a "critically important" part of the school curriculum. The author, with fellow Swedish academic Kjell Nordström of the book Funky Business, explains that it is one of the means of adding the character and compassion that capitalism needs to be sustainable.

Ridderstråle and Nordström's contribution to this is to preach in their book that there is no longer room for business as usual. Instead, it is "business as unusual", not least because it needs to appeal to a new generation of school leavers who are less inclined to work out of moral obligations.

Ridderstråle adds that the most talented of these will have limitless opportunities. This "Generation I" – whose members have global passports and are free to know, do and be whoever they want to be – will be "international, informed, informal, impatient and extremely individualistic".

Persuading such people to work for them will be a great challenge to organisations – and so they must adapt themselves to become more attractive. Firms will put to their advantage the fact that even individualistic types want to belong and so will "build an organisational tribe or community where people share common traits or interests – may it be rewards, ownership, language, culture or attitude".

The important thing to remember is that global market capitalism is not a political ideology. Rather, it is a machine, sorting the efficient from the inefficient. But, adds Ridderstråle, a machine does not have a soul. "We have to develop the character of capitalism as we go along. Otherwise, we may very well wake up one morning realising that, although we went to bed with a beast, we woke up beside a beast."

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