Monday, January 2, 2012

From materialism to non-materialism

At the end of 2011, many people may question the deeper causes of the financial crisis and the possible ways out. Damianos I, Abbott of the Greek-Orthodox St. Catherine’s Monastery and Archbishop of Sinai, (NZZ am Sonntag, p. 73, 25. Dec. 2011) made in my opinion a very convincing statement in this regard: "For me it is clearly not so much about a financial crisis but a spiritual crisis. There has always been materialism. Money has always been important. But today materialism is no longer merely tolerated as a human weakness. Having many things, being wealthy, are ideals today. The human need and desire for meaning is as big as it always was. But most people are seeking in the wrong places. However as in every crises this one also offers the opportunity of finding the right path."  

Therefore if we want to embark on a new path in 2012, then according to these wise words nonmaterial values need to be given special attention. We need to consider that we do not only “possess” material goods but that we also have knowledge and experience at our disposal, which in today’s knowledge based society are as relevant as material goods. The essential innovations of our society did not come only  about on the basis of financial ownership but through knowledge, ideas and the engagement of human beings in human enterprises. These contributions create property rights of all kinds (e.g. intellectual, organizational, financial etc.) for the firm. Therefore stakeholders (e.g. employees, customers, suppliers) with their broad range of skills become key actors in value creation. Due to their contribution in the value creation process, they create and enhance property rights for the firm as well as for themselves. In reality a broad range of stakeholders are normally indispensable for corporate operations aside from the investors. This has in fact important implications not only for value creation, but also for value distribution. Both are not exclusively of a financial nature but consist of different kinds of values (see chapter 4, Sachs, Rühli, 2011).

Property rights have to therefore be understood in an extended way: materially and non-materially. This broad understanding of property also motivates people to engage themselves in society instead of only concentrating on enriching themselves financially. The resolution for 2012 for the “right path”, also in the spirit of Damianos I, is to engage ourselves more with and for nonmaterial values.

Sybille Sachs


  1. Thank you for this remarkable blog.It remembers me to an article, which ended up with the same conclusion, but was written in March 2007, that means long before the financial crisis became a common term:

  2. Reading this post is really awesome experience. i gain really informative information. really appreciate this blogger..

    Human Resource Management