Michel de Virville, Honorary Director of the Collège des Bernardins, analyzes the 2019 Materiality Observatory study
Companies need to measure how different their future will be from a recent past. Now they need to think about what they can do. I am convinced that the alliance of the Public and the Private, the service of the common good and the entrepreneurial spirit is today one of the keys to moving forward, to overcoming resistance and to facing the challenges that are so new in this time of change.
Why would the public/private alliance be relevant? We wanted and organized globalization, it preceded us and perhaps sometimes escaped us… giving others the opportunity to develop. It is a hope for the world, but it has also reversed the political and social balance of our Western nations, exacerbated the inequalities between us, even upset our national imaginations. There is no point in trying to re-establish the previous balance, claiming to reform borders, or prohibiting migration.
Governments can no longer rule as masters as they did yesterday, imposing trajectories, they must use the strength of business to nurture social development, they must channel market forces for the common good. But conversely, corporations are increasingly being called upon to abandon a simplistic division of labour where they could ignore the general interest and content themselves with intelligently serving their particular interest. How can we believe that the market can communicate its irreplaceable dynamism to society if it does not dedicate part of its resources to maintaining the social cohesion it so urgently needs?
I am deeply rooted in the French county of La Manche, a land of farmers and sailors between land and sea: yesterday’s world reminds me of the land where everyone can hope to chart their own course; today’s world seems to me to be more like the sea, where everyone has to deal with the forces of winds and currents that are beyond their control, which impose themselves on them, in order to try to reach their goal.
But another aspect of globalization is that we have to lead this co-construction with people who are increasingly diverse and different from us. I am happy to think of our experience of the Renault/Nissan Alliance, of its fruitfulness, but also of the distance between our cultures, of which we have probably only crossed a small part. The entrepreneurial spirit is the conviction that respect for diversity, combined with the difficult pursuit of cohesion, produces something new and generates solidarity. There can be no true entrepreneurial spirit without a rejection of exclusion and without attention to situations of fragility. Globalization requires us to respect these diverse energies; this is true for nations, for religions, for parties. We must work with those who are not like us.
Michel de Virville, Honorary Director of the Collège des Bernardins and Honorary Master Counselor