Managing for the common good: The case of Soplicex

Aleksander Chrostowski, Monika Kostera


The aim of this paper is to point to the potential value of an approach to management based on the idea of the common good, as opposed to classical capitalism based on private ownership. Such an approach makes it possible to resist a pursuit of short term oriented gains and a maximization of narrowly defined profits, and, instead, to focus on humanistic values, as to adopt a long term perspective. The much cited notion of the “tragedy of the commons” was based on deficient material and argumentation, but, most of all, it completely disregards of the issue of management. Using a case study developed through a longitudinal action research project in a big service enterprise we call “Soplicex”, we present the strategic process grounded in learning, as well as the building of a strong structure centred on teams. The engagement of the employees was, originally, strongly oriented towards the idea of the common good. The consultants and researchers adopted this principle as the guiding rule in their work with the organization. Even though the process was interrupted by the takeover by a foreign investor, we show how the findings of the study remain relevant for alternative organizing and managing today and in the future. The conclusions of this paper reach further than just being reflections on a historical case study: a model of management is presented, concerned with the care and protection of the common good.


common good; action research; Poland

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