Chapter 8 by Eleanor O’Higgins addresses the question of whether co-operatives present a real alternative business model to traditional capitalist enterprises. After characterizing co-operatives with their benefits and challenges, it compares two case examples from the United Kingdom, the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) and the Co-operative Group. The comparative analysis points to four crucial elements of good governance in co-operatives: member voice, representation, expertise and management. Both successes and failures in these four elements are intertwined. In the case of JLP, this resulted in a virtuous cycle. By contrast, the Co-op Group failed by adopting neither the model of the cooperative nor of the publicly listed corporations. The chapter concludes by stating that a diverse array of co-operatives and other organizational forms will continue to exist side by side as ways to add value to economic activity.
Eleanor O’Higgins and Laszlo Zsolnai
One of the biggest problems of humankind today is the considerable ecological overshoot of its activities which transgresses planetary boundaries and results in serious and mostly irreversible ecological degradation. Based on the principle of responsibility developed by Hans Jonas, calling for actions that foster human life on our planet, the chapter discusses the roles and duties of business leadership in the age of the Anthropocene. We argue that the normative concept of Future Earth, namely, that human activities should serve the survival of life on Earth (including human, non-human, and future life) is central to a moral type of leadership orientation and focus. We maintain that a prime duty of responsible leadership today necessitates going beyond mainstream business practices by creating and implementing progressive business models. This chapter uses the cases of Unilever and Patagonia to illustrate how courageous business leaders with novel vision and moral imagination transform their business organizations to stabilize life conditions on Earth.