The Evolution of Capitalism

Capitalism is in the news a lot these days. Pope Francis made global headlines for his critique of unbridled capitalism. Recently Professor R. Edward Freeman wrote about the future of capitalism in The Guardian, and it was met with vigorous discussion online. It is evident that this topic strikes a nerve with many people in the 21st century.

Even within academia, the Academy of Management’s 2013 Annual Meeting featured the theme of “Capitalism in Question.” Freeman participated on a panel with other distinguished professors, and most thought the world was in trouble because of capitalism.

However, there are several movements afoot in the business community to change the status quo. The Darden School of Business recently hosted Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, to a packed auditorium of students and community members. Robb and his co-CEO John Mackey are a part of Conscious Capitalism, which champions four principles: higher purpose, conscious leadership, stakeholder orientation and conscious culture.

Whole Foods Market co-CEO Walter Robb speaks at the Darden School.

Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb at the Darden School.

In his talk Robb mentioned other similar movements, such as Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson’s Enlightened Capitalism and Bill Gates’ Creative Capitalism. He saw all of these ideas as an “evolution of capitalism” for the greater good.

Throughout history ideas have constantly evolved. Is it time for capitalism to evolve?

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