How Business Can Respond to Populist Pressures

By Quy Huy – in INSEAD Knowledge

The rise of public-sector power obliges firms to get serious about emotional capital and rely on middle managers.

The pendulum of power has swung dramatically toward the public sector after a lengthy period of relatively unbounded globalisation.
The evidence is plain to see. Companies unlucky enough to elicit Donald Trump’s displeasure might become the subject of the president’s next incensed tweet, watching billions in market value wiped out in 140 characters or less.
During Theresa May’s successful campaign, she declared, “It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re Google, Amazon, or Starbucks…you have a debt to your fellow citizens…It is not anti-business to suggest that big business needs to change.”
But the rebalancing of power did not begin with Trump and Brexit. You could trace its origins to the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis.
The shift had surely commenced in earnest by 3 April 2009, when newly minted President Barack Obama warned 13 CEOs from America’s biggest banks, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” Over the following six years, Big Finance was slapped with a staggering total of more than US$160 billion in fines and penalties.


Povl Tiedemann
March 2017


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