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Chatting Up A Storm - Claudia Cragg


Feb 13, 2014

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This interview for #KGNU and 'It's The Economy' (a show produced by a team of the station's reporters) is a weekly radio economics and all-things-business program with international reach. This week Claudia Cragg talks to Gayle Avery about 'Honeybees and Locusts' and discusses why all of us in business and the world at large should adopt as many of the traits of the former as possible to discourage the continuing plague of the latter.

In this interview, Avery, who is one of the founders of the instituteforsustainableleadership.com, points out that if only the 23 main principles of SL had been followed into the run up to the Great Crash of 2008, it more than likely could have been avoided or at least significantly minimized. Furthermore, many very successful companies, like BMW for example, purposefully follow SL principles to their very evident and consequent bottom-line corporate advantage. 

The idea is that the honey bee creators, makers and providers lend valuable things for others” to an environment while the locust “takers and predators” are those who, says Avery, “extract value from others without contributing much in return”. The distinction comes from a so-called founding work of modern capitalism, Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees (which first appeared as a poem in 1705).

The implication for those who may still believe that capitalism, as we see it today, is viable in the long term, is that the adoption of these principles encourages bee-like virtues and so discourages the locusts.

But is that what we see today? The nasty little secret of much of C21st business may be that capitalism not only comes with moral hazards (as often required to meet sometimes greedy and ultimately unsustainable $$$ stockholder demands) but may actually depend on that climate for much of its success.