I am hoping that our readers can help me through a dilemma that I am struggling with by giving me their views and suggestions about the question I will try to explore in this blog.
What is the role of the publicly owned multinational company in our societies?
There is little doubt that the model has brought many benefits. Access to finance and operation at scale allows large companies to do many things that others would be unable to do. Developing and building large aircraft, researching, developing and commercialising life-improving or life-saving medicines, connecting many of us all across the world.
All these things and many others would likely not be possible or viable except for the publicly owned, limited liability, multinational model.
We also, by and large, are all somewhat dependent on these companies’ successes to guarantee things like our pensions that are invested in publicly owned stock.
Yet, showcases of globalisation, many multinational companies also have corrosive effects. Tax arbitrage, using competition between countries to drive down regulatory standards, the transfer of wealth to small groups shareholders, commercial success that is substantially dependent on externalities such as environmental damage, a total lack of any kind of loyalty to place resulting in rapid shift of investments with consequent social destabilisation in abandoned areas – the ultimate ‘citizens of nowhere’.
My question here is not to attempt to come to some kind of simplistic conclusion as to whether the publicly owned multinational model is “good” or “bad”. Clearly it has both characteristics. The question is – what ways are open to us to maximise the good while minimising the bad?
Any thoughts or suggestions welcome…