ADVISORY BOARD PERSPECTIVES: STAKEHOLDER STRATEGY
When Paris sneezes, Europe catches cold.
-- Clement Metternich, Austrian Diplomat and Chancellor, 1830
"When corporations sneeze, societies catch cold," modernizes Metternich's metaphor. It acknowledges both acute and chronic consequences of corporate conduct, although it may stretch the analogy a bit. Numerous parties may be impacted, prey to, or beneficiaries of resultant external forces over which they have no control. External advisors can offer valuable perspectives on value-laden issues that arise among various constituencies.
Components of our societies are increasingly interdependent. For example, the domino effect on the world's bourses after the October 19, 1987, Wall Street plunge commanded headlines because of worldwide reactions to potential business repercussions. Shares of six companies accounted for more than 50 percent of the $60 billion volume on the small Dublin Stock Exchange in 1987. Eight months after Black Monday's plunge, the Dublin Exchange was still more than 30 percent below its peak reached just prior to Black Monday's shock wave. The reason: each of the six companies depends on the international market for much of its profit. Each expanded abroad rather than rely on the stagnant debt-laden domestic economy for growth.
Corporate affairs are interwoven in our societies and sometimes reveal the most unlikely people in bed together. In mid-1987, the Communist party in Finland invested almost all its assets in shares of