Stakeholding: the concept on very few people's lips

March 7, 1997

Will Hutton's stakeholding society would be one in which everyone had a stake, not just the top 40 per cent. "It's about being nice to people," says Hutton.

Firms would be made more accountable to their workforce with compulsory worker directors and comprehensive employment rights, class privilege would be undermined, the rich would face higher taxes. A national investment bank would ensure longer term investment. A "republican" constitution would devolve more power to the regions. It's about social inclusiveness. A bit vague perhaps, but the quotes that follow point in the general direction: "The firm is not only at the heart of the economy, it is at the heart of society. It is where people work and define their lives. New right economics admits none of this ... The firm is a law unto itself. Its only job is to succeed in the marketplace. The key to success is too frequently seen as the capacity to exploit labour, or filla temporary market niche. Britishcompanies need a fundamental change in culture andorganisation."

Will Hutton, The State We're In, 1995 "It is surely time to shift the emphasis in corporate ethos - from the company being a mere vehicle for the capital market towards a vision of the company as a community of partnership in which each employee has a stake, and where a company's responsibilities are more clearly delineated."

Tony Blair, 1996.

"The idea that the firm is a more complex social entity, and that it should not just be running for the interest of the shareholders has made a great impression. I look forward to some new research projects."

Peter Swann,director of research, Manchester Business School, 1997.

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