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Corporate culture in the third sector

A thesis presented at the Sapienza University of Rome discusses the links between changes in the structure and the market for labour and the social economy

Companies and employment change in line with the transformations in technology which are available to them. This is a fundamental and, in appearance, a basic assumption, although in reality the links between companies, employment and technology hide important problems and also imply an ongoing transformation in the culture of manufacturing. The complexity of the relationships between these elements is enormous. And needs to be investigated with caution and care. And this is what Federico Fiorelli has attempted to do by looking into one aspect of the question, in his research for his doctorate in Sociology and Social Sciences presented to the “La Sapienza” University.

“Verso una nuova economia sociale. Il ruolo del Terzo Settore nel riassorbimento della disoccupazione tecnologica e nella soddisfazione dei nuovi bisogni sociali in Italia” (Towards a new social economy. The role of the Third Sector in the reduction of technological unemployment and in the satisfaction of the new social needs in Italy) is a complex work which seeks to correlate the evolution of the current industrial system with the employment prospects offered by the third sector. In greater detail, Fiorelli explains that the intention is that of “analysing the connection which arises between the evolution of capitalist society, by observing principally the changes in social needs, and the employment effects attributable to technological change”. The change in employment, according to the author, can be contrasted in its negative effects by thinking of a “greater hybridisation between the current structure of the capitalist market (tertiary, global and digital) and the third sector”. Furthermore: the third sector should not be “analysed as a dangerous anomaly of the economic system which occurs in the event that market failures persist”. On the contrary, it is seen “as a possible contribution to the economic structure faced with the emergence of profound social changes. The market and the third sector do not represent two opposing poles but, on the contrary, two phases of the same process which moves from a material dimension to transform itself towards a dimension where production becomes ever more virtual and distribution ever more relational”. Different corporate cultures but nevertheless similar ones, which intersect each other, and which develop complementary functions.

The journey taken by Fiorelli follows a classical route. First of all, a setting showing connections between society’s methods of study and the method of industrial manufacturing; then an investigation into the historical and organisational evolution of manufacturing sites, of technologies and of manufacturing methods; finally an examination of the relationships between the third sector and the employment market.

Towards the end of his thesis Fiorelli writes: “From a global perspective, technological unemployment becomes the effect of a market which is not always able to satisfy the social needs of individuals. Imposing new material needs and having recourse to technologies to reduce the prices of consumer goods, even when the latter represent “the incarnation of the superfluous”, involves continuing and unpredictable changes in the structure of employment”. Fiorelli then concludes by explaining that “the growth of manufacturing units which operate in the social economy determines the possibility of rebuilding a relationship between economic efficiency and social sustainability. Technological change requires a human capital which is better trained compared with the past, in the same way that the change in demand for social needs requires the production of new goods of a relational nature. Responding actively to these changes means recognising the importance of a hybridisation of the market economy”.

In the way it is written by Federico Fiorelli, this is not always an easy approach to the subject, but it makes the reader think and therefore represents a useful read.

Verso una nuova economia sociale. Il ruolo del Terzo Settore nel riassorbimento della disoccupazione tecnologica e nella soddisfazione dei nuovi bisogni sociali in Italia (Towards a new social economy. The role of the Third Sector in the reduction of technological unemployment and in the satisfaction of the new social needs in Italy)

Federico Fiorelli

Doctorate thesis, “La Sapienza” University of Rome Department of social and economic sciences, Doctorate Course in Sociology and Applied Social Sciences (‘SESSA’) XXIX Cycle, 2017

Verso una nuova economia sociale.