Mutuality: Define, study, teach

In June of this year, Mars Catalyst and Oxford University's Said Business School entered into a multi-year partnership to explore the concept of mutuality in business and how to enact it.  The collaborative research program will build on the long experience of Mars, Incorporated, which has Mutuality as a core principle alongside Quality, Responsibility, Efficiency and Freedom.  It will also build on the breakthrough work of the company’s corporate think tank — Catalyst — in designing and testing new non-monetized metrics to help the business move from a profit maximization model to a holistic value optimization approach across People / Planet / Performance that could one day help Mars become the most mutual company in terms of fairness and shared benefits.  

Mutuality as a business concept is rapidly gaining support since the global economic crisis of 2008 and as consumers demand more demonstrated ‘values’  behind the value that they seek with their buying habits.  It is not enough, therefore, for one company to become more mutual in its business practices, as one cannot be mutual in a vacuum.  The Mars/Catalyst-Oxford/Said partnership, therefore, is about spreading the word to the next generation of MBAs and to rising business managers through executive education.

Specifically, the partnership will:

  1. Help define mutuality generically and develop a broad understanding of the values and principles of mutuality and their application in different business and economic contexts;
  2. Identify the management practices that can enact mutuality in different ways;
  3. Develop a business management theory based on mutuality; and
  4. Co-create MBA and executive management training curricula that will position ‘mutuality’ as a viable business model alternative to the current dominant Chicago School of Business Financial Capitalism approach.

Former Oxford Said Dean Colin Mayer is leading the Oxford side of the partnership with Mars/Catalyst along with former Harvard Business School Professor and current Said Dean Peter Tufano.  Prof. Mayer's essay on Mutuality and Morality in Business appeared in the January edition of The Brewery, a trade publication that featured writings on mutuality from Mars Chairman Stephen Badger, CEO Paul Michaels, Bruno Roche and myself from Catalyst, and other leaders from global businesses and government.

This partnership is the start of an exciting journey, whereby the world can become a better place through more mutual business practices.  Stay tuned!

--Jay Jakub


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