Democracy is dead…..
…..long live democracy!
You would have had to have been living on another planet not to realise that there is a rather significant election happening as we go to press — one that is arguably going to be the most important election for many decades. I’ve sometimes joked that, given the impact it has on the entire world, US Presidential elections are far too important to be left to Americans alone. Perhaps the rest of the world should each get a partial vote or some kind of say in who the country picks. I mean, couldn’t we at least have the right of veto?
My tongue is only partially in my cheek when I say this, because the democratic processes in the world’s largest free democracy are anything but democratic. Due to a clunky and outdated electoral college system, a President who lost the popular vote by 2 ½ million has been able to appoint three Supreme Court judges during his first term. Commentators believe that this could help to embed a conservative bias for at least a generation if not more. Indeed, if you want to know just what a small percentage of the US electorate actually have an influence on the outcome, watch this informative video and I challenge you not to gasp out loud. There are about 5.5million voters in battleground states, less than 2% of the population, whose votes will actually influence the outcome. A more detailed critique of the current election and what it means is contained in this very eloquent Op-ed by Otto Scharmer of MIT which I would encourage you to take the time to read.
The Bullog aspires to be fairly a-political (well, most of the time) and I’m much more interested in what the implications are for business. Regular Bullogers (both of you) will recall that I touched on my favourite theme of how we might democratize the corporation in the October Bullog. It turns out I’m not alone in this thinking. I was contacted by Jerry Davies of the University of Michigan who has written a very eloquent piece for the next edition of the Journal of Management Studies on the fact that corporate purpose will always be trumped by the profit motive until we have more democratic decision-making within corporations. He also told me about an interesting movement started by some Harvard academics called #democratizingwork which you can sign-up to support here. I certainly did and am intrigued to see where the movement goes.
Whatever the outcome of the US Presidential Election, I will continue to believe that the mechanisms, methods and institutions that support democracy need to be fundamentally over-hauled, not only in the US, but across much of the developed world. Yet transforming the governance structures of the least democratic and arguably most powerful institutions we call multinational corporations, could actually be an even better place to start.
This article is an extract from the November edition of The Bullog*, my monthly blog. To read the full blog or to sign up to receive The Bullog directly each month visit………www.gibbulloch.com/bullog
* The Bullog = Bulloch + Blog
Make sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.