Business can be a force for good, creating employment, providing valued products and services, and creating the wealth on which our common life relies. Businesses also recognise, in theory if not always in practice, the importance of relationships for innovation, performance, risk, or leadership. Indeed, the essence of any business is to invite people into relationship as investors, customers, employees, partners or suppliers and to make such relationships more valuable.
Yet too often the relationships are out of kilter. Corporate scandals, executive pay, conditions for employees, reliance on debt-finance or the taxation of global companies are just some of the issues that erode public trust in business.
Ever more regulation will not solve the problem. Relational thinking requires us to consider the ways in which company structure, economic and political institutions, culture and working practices distort the relationships between stakeholders.