The High Engagement Work Culture: A New Perspective for Framing the Debate About Capitalism

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[New Economics]: The High Engagement Work Culture: A New Perspective for Framing the Debate About Capitalism

Coming out of the Great Recession of 2008, what kind of Capitalism do we want to promote and sustain as the economic foundation for the United States.

Definition: Capitalism [as contrasted with Socialism] is a much more vague idea but essentially reverses priorities, putting the predominant role in the hands of private interests such as investors and corporations. State power in a capitalist country usually focuses on the creation of standards, public health, safety, and welfare, such things as regulating the currency, protecting the environment, and assuring the health of the populace.

Too little has been written about the underlying moral deficit that has been exposed–a deficit that is larger, and harder to correct… We have created a society in which materialism overwhelms moral commitment, in which the rapid growth that we have achieved is not sustainable environmentally or socially, in which we do not act together to address our common needs… There has been an erosion of trust — and not just in our financial institutions. It is no too late to close these fissures.

In addressing how this high-engagement work culture improves the bottom line at BMW group, co-authors Bowles and Cooper state:

[N]ot only is [BMW Group] one of the largest and most successful industrial companies in the world, but it has a distinct philosophy that favors its overall workforce, and not just those at the top. It values people, and rewards them based on that value. The benefits of this flowed to BMW after the Crash in spectacular fashion, when the “rebound” effect caused by unprecedented demand from Asia required a level of teamwork that would not have existed at those companies that had ‘slashed and burned’ between 2007 and 2009.

Regrettably, the Left has repeatedly failed to explain how, by restoring the fundamentals of a truly free-market form of Capitalism — one in which the special interests with the most buying power no longer get to game the system to their advantage and everyone else’s detriment — the U.S. economy will return to a more robust pace of growth.

The High Engagement Work Culture perhaps bridges these two extremes, offering a fascinating and important perspective into how organizational and industry cultures can benefit greatly — or, in the case of the Great Recession, bring to its knees — an economic super-power such as the United States. The authors have done an excellent job of laying the foundation for their thesis. There’s much here that can and should be applied to the larger debate about what kind of Capitalism the U.S. should practice in the future.

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