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Platzhalter Speakers
Charles Handy

Social Philosopher. Former professor at London Business School

Author of «Gods of Management» and «Myself» and
«Other More Important Matters»


Charles Handy

is a writer, broadcaster and lecturer.  He regularly features among the top names in Thinkers Fifty, the list of international management thinkers. His books on the changing shape of work and its effects on our lives and organizations have sold almost two million copies around the world. His most recent book was Myself and Other Important Matters, a memoir.

Currently, he is working with his wife, Elizabeth, developing the Still Life process which seeks to draw out the values and priorities that guide individuals and organizations.  With her, he wrote The New Alchemists, a study of entrepreneurial leaders and The New Philanthropists, a study of innovative philanthropists.

He has, in his career, been an oil executive with Shell, a business economist, a professor at the London Business School, the Warden of St. George’s House in Windsor Castle (a study centre for social and ethical issues) and the Chairman of the Royal Society of Arts in London.   He was appointed a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to the Human Resource profession.   He is also known in Britain for his Thoughts for Today on the BBC radio breakfast show ‘Today’. He is Irish and grew up in Kildare, but now lives in London.


«Is There a Future for Capitalism?»

The short answer is that there has to be, for there is nothing else that works.  But the story of capitalism is one of good ideas ruined by their unforeseen consequences. We must not repeat those mistakes.
In the 1840s two creative pieces of social invention sparked an explosion of capitalist enterprise. Two Acts of Parliament in Britain established the legality of the joint stock company and of limited liability. These were rapidly copied around the world. What their authors did not realise was that these acts effectively separated ownership from responsibility. We are now living with the consequences. Other good ideas similarly had unforeseen consequences. Even Adam Smith’s self-regulating markets don’t work where the market is in assets.  
What do we do about it? We cannot put the clock back. We could toughen the rules, change the power balance or bear down on the hearts and minds of directors. Probably a mix of al three will be needed for capitalism and democracy are always uneasy bedfellows, unless capitalism is seen to be working to improve the lives of all the people they will rise up against it and throttle it, then we shall all lose.