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Socioeconomic Triple-Spiral-Helix Response to Socially Irresponsible Capitalism

The Emerald Handbook of Management and Organization Inquiry

ISBN: 978-1-78714-552-8, eISBN: 978-1-78714-551-1

Publication date: 6 June 2019


The evolution of capitalism has gone through four major epochs, from the first tangible exchanges of goods and resources, to the generation of wealth by entrepreneurs held personally accountable for their actions, to cost-cutting measures for increasing efficiencies and maximizing wealth for the few, and finally to a socially irresponsible form. The fourth epoch dispatched the last remaining shards of capitalist responsibility to anyone but investors, as the basis of wealth appropriation shifted to manipulating the speculative future worth of intangible or fictitious capital. This evolution through four epochs has sadly been a process of diminishing value creation (Boje et al., 2017).

We are trapped in an era of socially irresponsible capitalism with little respect for humankind. But, it was not always this way. The earliest references to entrepreneurial behavior emerged in the east during the Han Dynasty and in the west in the eighteenth century. Somewhat like the fourth epoch of the twenty-first century, these global beginnings of early capitalism were also directed by opportunistic desires to pursue wealth generation by taking advantage of people’s needs and wants. Although capitalists have consistently been the prime directors of resources and the distributors of wealth, in the early epochs of capitalism they were different. The early epoch entrepreneurs bore personal risks of business failure, consequences that might impact them for a lifetime.

The antenarrative generative mechanisms, or spirals, help us understand the interconnectivities of “real” and “actual” domains of reality (Bhaskar, 1975; Boje, 2016). Socially irresponsible capitalism is pulling global societies into a downward spiral toward an addiction of speculative destruction and dehumanization, transforming “real” into “actual” realities. We need a force to pull us back up toward a revitalized form of socially responsible capitalism. This force is called the socio-economic approach to management (SEAM), and in the responsible entrepreneurial spirit of earlier epochs, the path to recovery can be accomplished by accountably working with one organization or entity at a time.

This chapter first investigates the historical double-spiral-helix footsteps of socially irresponsible capitalism in the making. Then through a SEAM project example, we discuss how the micro-societal perspective of an organization places it at a deeper level of reality, deeper within the double-spiral-helix meta-reality of macro-societal capitalism. Finally, we demonstrate how the socioeconomic approach can help diagnose the deeper realities with an organization, beyond the evident narratives, to reveal the third spiral of deficiencies. This third spiral disenables the organization’s ability to activate the micro forces of socially responsible capitalism.



Hillon, Y.C. and Boje, D.M. (2019), "Socioeconomic Triple-Spiral-Helix Response to Socially Irresponsible Capitalism", Boje, D.M. and Sanchez, M. (Ed.) The Emerald Handbook of Management and Organization Inquiry, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 89-102.



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