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Culture of enterprise in times of crisis

In times of crisis, even the culture of enterprise changes. The fundamentals may not change, but certainly the entrepreneurial approach to the marketplace and the structure of the enterprise created as a consequence will change in response to changes in the economy and in the competitive landscape. To better understand this, we need to put general impressions into more concrete numbers, which is why works such as “Il valore delle competenze, nuove opportunità per rimettere in moto il lavoro” (The value of skills. New opportunities to jumpstart employment), conducted by CENSIS and presented in Rome at the end of February, are important in helping to understand how Italian businesses are reacting to the crisis. What we see is movement, the actions of enterprises not wanting to stand still in the face of challenges.

Yes, only about 16% of all businesses are growing, and employment numbers are definitely not good, but, according to CENSIS, we are beginning to see a sort of “hidden reorganisation”, with very few businesses actually at a standstill. Indeed, many have chosen to react to the crisis by focusing on skills, not just on the traditional, more technological tools of change. In other words, innovation in organisation and processes (which is being pursued by the vast majority of Italian enterprises) is being followed by the search for new talent and new types of employees and managers, and a great deal is being done to further develop existing personnel in an attempt to integrate the old with the new.

However, what is taking place in Italian businesses and in their cultural approach to the crisis is even more complex. The CENSIS report says that the hiring of new people to replace existing employees or the use of outside specialists is being accompanied by efforts to optimise the organisation, including re-engineering business processes (38%), reorganising working groups (31.7%), adjusting working schedules and shift work (26.5%), and redefining employee assessment and reward systems (28%). The report further states that employee resistance has adversely affected the launch of new processes in many cases (54%).

So is Italian enterprise and culture of enterprise changing? For the most part, it probably is, and CENSIS has pointed to the toils of change, the drive towards that which is new, resistance of the old, and the will for the culture of enterprise to improve and to become more modern, all without forgetting that the old often also has many good points. It may be a burden, but its presence is still certainly felt. CENSIS makes another important observation about Italy’s industrial reorganisation, that it would appear to have three sides: one defensive, one expansionary, and one international.

Dal valore delle competenze, nuove opportunità per rimettere in moto il lavoro.  

Final Report CENSIS, February 2014