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Banks and their world view contexts

Författare Sten Jönsson
Förlag University of Gothenburg
Förlagsort Göteborg
Publiceringsår 2016
Publicerad vid Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Språk en
Länkar hdl.handle.net/2077/44358
Ämnesord banks, world views, ideologies, neoliberalism, scholasticism, mercantilism, history
Ämneskategorier Idé- o lärdomshistoria, Företagsekonomi


It is reasonable to assume that banks, throughout history, will pay attention to what arguments best justify their existence and their maintenance of their “good name”. Most banks have long histories of survival in adverse conditions and of surfing on good tides. At the same time the recent crisis has demonstrated that many banks (and government agencies) failed to see what was coming and take appropriate action. In fact my starting assumption in the work on this essay has been that most failures in this crisis can be labelled managerial failures, ethical as well as instrumental. Over time I grew convinced that it is more complicated than that. It is not that bank managers do not make grave mistakes, they certainly do, but it is also that the contexts in which banks have to find their model of survival and prosperity there are also wills and strategies at play. The context is not a passive generator of data to be used for forecasting, it is rather an active player, who, to the extent that it finds it worthwhile to pay any attention to banks, will assert power to make banks employ a “logic of appropriateness”. That concept (the logic of appropriateness) was introduced by March & Olsen (1984, 2009) into organizational discourse in the form of “new institutionalism” deals with the simple but fundamental question: “What should a person like me do in a situation like this?” That question is not only about “who am I? (a person like me)” but also “what kind of situation is this?” (the context), and “What actions are possible?”(do). The normative factors at play at a given time and place must be discerned and acted upon for the person in question to do the appropriate thing, not only the person’s self-interest but also socially sanctioned values contained in the dominating ideology. Of course the person can rebel, but this is done better with appropriate knowledge of the values that are celebrated here at this time. My project is to lay out some of the major ideologies in history and place some prominent banks along the time line to see if anything can be discovered concerning the interaction between banks and their value contexts. I have chosen Scholasticism (around 400 to 1600 AD), Mercantilism (the 1600s), Liberalism (1700 – 1900), Neoliberalism (1900 until today).

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