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From crisis comes a new kind of company

New research clearly shows the characteristics of companies that take shape in times of crisis

Economic crisis can bring to life new organizational models of production. This hypothesis is not new, but it must be verified each time: there are sometimes too many variables affecting the direction. It is however worth attempting to define a theoretical model of the change that companies undergo due to the stress in times of crisis. This is what Patrizia Cappelletti, a researcher at the ARC, the Contemporary Change Research Centre at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, tried to do with the research “Organizzazioni generative e nuove filiere del valore” (Generative organizations and new value chains).

Cappelletti’s work (which is part of the national project “GeniusLoci. The Archive of Italian Generativity”) starts from the observation that the 2008 crisis could establish a real turning point in the relationship between economy and society. The underlying theme, for Cappelletti, is that this crisis has “made clear the unsustainability of a socio-economic model founded on a concept of growth like that of limitless expansion; the crisis seems to have initiated a transition through which a reconnection between economic and social objectives is possible.”

It is from here that the researcher begins her contemplation by looking above all at the organizational and managerial aspects. “If there is no doubt that the difficult socio-economic situation forces many organizations to think in terms of pure survival, the hypothesis,” Cappelletti writes, “is that from this scenario new and more dynamic models can emerge.” What emerges is a new organizational model that Cappelletti explains as oriented “to the production of contextual and multi-stakeholder value”. A model that focuses once more on “producing” (albeit in new ways, that is, in the sense of “generating”), instead of just “consuming”. “Generative organizations” effectively try to re-link economy and society, individual and group, “action and structure, functions and meaning”. Cappelletti is clearly outlining a new business culture (more mature and aware) by first explaining what she means by “generativity” and then illustrating the method of research conducted on about 80 companies to finally define some benchmarks: the generation of economic and social value, attention to quality and beauty, inclusive strategy, the local and global nature of action, the idea of growth and attention to the individual. To better understand the theoretical approach that derives from field research, Cappelletti cites the examples of the Zambon Group, a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, and of Berbrand, a Brescia-based manufacturer of mother-of-pearl buttons.

The researcher writes in her conclusion: “It is likely that the collective attention will be increasingly directed towards companies as guarantors of quality, ethics and sustainability of the value created, in a significant reconnection between function and meaning, efficiency and sustainability, safekeeping and innovation. It is therefore a question of rethinking supply chains, but also the system of internal and external relations, the vision, cultural references and the story of the company, within a broad, intergenerational and glocal perspective.”

 

Organizzazioni generative e nuove filiere del valore
Patrizia Cappelletti
Development and Organization

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