Is John Lewis Partnership an example of Conscious Capitalism?
“This is what we know to be true: business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity.”
- John E. Mackey -
Business Strategy and Sustainable Development SOE 10103
Matriculation Number: 09005374 Module Leader: Dr. Hock Tan Submission Date: 05/03/2015
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2
2. Background of the John Lewis Partnership 3
3. Linking sustainable development and the concept of Conscious Capitalism 4
4. Is John Lewis Partnership an example of conscious capitalism? 5
4.1 Higher Purpose 5
4.2 Stakeholders Integration 6
4.3 Conscious leadership 8
4.4 Conscious culture and management 10
5. The difference between CSR and Conscious Capitalism 11
6. Summary and conclusion 11
Word count: 3487
The term ‘capitalism’ is often quite justly associated with environmental degradation, exploitation of resources and unequal distribution of wealth (Elkington, 2002, Dasgupta, 2010). On the other hand, many contemporary studies have postulated that capitalism is in the forefront of human progress that spawned, among other things, health conditions improvement, technological and scientific advancements, greater social equality and economic freedom (Baumol, 2007; Mackey & Sisodia, 2014; Rull, 2011).
Capitalism has surely come a long way in its transformation from the basic notion of free-enterprise, which regularly viewed natural resources and the environment as an inexhaustible asset; to more advanced form that incorporates variables that have been primordially disregarded (Cohen & Winn, 2007; Dasgupta, 2010). This shift can be attributed to several factors at once among which the most prevalent are the raising collective demand for more responsible corporate behaviour and sustainability-driven development (Rull, 2011). As a result of this, companies around the globe react by adopting a wide range of corporate practices that, albeit ostensibly similar, oftentimes differ substantially in construct (Payne, 2006). One of such practices, or frequently referred to as movement, goes under the heading Conscious Capitalism. It will constitute an integral part of this report of which primary aim is to critically evaluate the statement that John Lewis Partnership is an example of a company that adheres to the principles this practice.
In order to conduct a thorough and relevant evaluation, the report will opt to use the most up-to-date literature. Firstly, the background to the John Lewis Partnership will be outlined. Secondly, it will move on to critically evaluate the new movement of Conscious Capitalism from the standpoint of sustainable development. The individual principles of John Lewis Partnership will be comparatively analysed in the main section along with principles inherent to Conscious Capitalism. The following conclusion will be then unfolded on this basis.
2. Background of the John Lewis Partnership
The John Lewis Partnership (hereafter JLP) was formed by John Spedan Lewis in 1929 after he assumed a full control of his father’s department store, operating in Oxford Street, London since 1864 (John Lewis Partnership, 2014). It is now the UK’s largest example of employee co-ownership, where every employee is known as a partner and where profit is shared in form of bonuses on annual basis. The organizational activities are governed by a principles-based Constitution that forms the cornerstone of the Partnership. These principles are: purpose, power, profit and members.
The JLP consists of two trading divisions with a chain