The names of Italian capitalism are always the same, and the same headlines are always published in the newspapers, especially in times of new appointments and renewals. There are tales of battles that are sometimes incomprehensible for a person from abroad who witnesses how publicly-traded companies are characterized by a governance not exactly in line with that of a Public Company and by amusing surprises that destroy the share value and the reputation of shareholders.
However, all this seems to depict a parallel universe, in which one can afford to move huge amounts of money to satisfy his/her whimsical wishes. A universe in which collectivity and people have no value, only reinforcing the capitalist myth of the man alone in command, the master of once-upon-a-time and the heroic sacrifice that makes business deals happen.
Mythology, as Jung teaches, refers to the fable-like tales of the qualities and deeds of beings conceived as divine, or more than human. The first to use this wording was Plato, famous, among other things, for the myth of the cave. Mythology opens the way to the Jungian theory of libido, to the theory of the collective unconscious, to the theory of psychic energy. And so are our Italian mythological capitalists: full of energy, of imagination, of relentless impulses that often lead to irrational personal behavior, given that that mythological theory is primitive. However, they must, in the real world, face the efficiency and effectiveness of a rational culture, a culture based on signs and symbols with numerical meaning – a managerial tool par excellence. Nothing more distant. The manager quickly grasps the integration of different numbers, market prospects, organizational structures and evolutionary, adaptive, transformative dynamics necessary for down-to-earth, pragmatic, concrete success. In short, a diametrically opposite world which, if I may say, only in rare cases can integrate itself and express its full potential. This polarization also generates some formal perplexity. In times when purchases of company equity stakes, new lists for the board of directors and perhaps even old shareholders’ agreements become delicate for freedom of action, seeing the headlines of the major national newspapers speak of shareholders’ alliances or agreements made against one manager or another, is indeed strange. At least to those who belong to the culture based on signs and symbols: the market! Year after year, triennium after triennium, mandate after mandate (or almost), the Ring Around the Rosie starts again. I have the feeling, that this time around, Covid makes the repetition of history a less likely scenario, and I would not, as the nursery rhyme goes, want that at the next shareholders meeting we are all on the ground.
I am a Board Advisor for several boards of directors of listed and unlisted companies, and act as a governance advisor and executive coach to leading CEOs and Executive