Entering a parallel universe – the German view of companies

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I’m in Düsseldorf to talk about the impact of technology and changing work patterns on the route of the board.
My hosts bring together supervisory board members. Fascinating to enter a parallel Governance universe. I’m hearing mayors talk about the many supervisory boards on which they sit. And to hear about the role of the Stiftung- the commercial foundation which exercises ownership on behalf of the family. (And to be hearing mainly from companies that make things.)
Under these arrangements a company stays close to its founders purpose but can it survive the shocks ahead? Some companies say mitbestimmung (employees board involvement) helped them survive the 2008 recession. Others claim employees don’t understand the issues. Or that people who live in a town which has enjoyed the presence of a Mittelstand Company come to expect to be protected and offered employment- an entitlement mentality.
It interests me that no-one is talking about extending ownership to employees to align everyone with the longer term purpose.
In my talk I intend to describe three views of the company. Shareholder primacy; stakeholder theory; and the stewardship perspective of Tomorrow’s Company under which shareholders and stakeholders alike subordinate their demands to the long term success of the company.
The search goes on for an approach that combines long term stability of purpose with necessary entrepreneurial flair and dynamism! Each company needs to find its own answers.