Rethinking the role of institutions

By Javier García Moritán

If we agree that a natural person finds their realization by putting their gifts to service –that is, not when they accumulate or hoard for themselves, but when they seek community with others–why is it strange for us to ask the same of a juridical person? It is undeniable that juridical persons such as companies (as well as public institutions or civil society organizations) achieve a purpose when through their activities they have a positive impact on society. In other words, when they bring value beyond that which is immediately economic.

Similarly, I like to think that every genuine calling must result in a tangible benefit to others. In this sense, there is no calling in earning money, nor in the desire for power or in the cult of the self. Both for persons, as for institutions, money, power or prestige will always be means, even if we tend to confuse them with ends.

From this, we gather that we must incorporate the values of the common good and people’s dignity to our analogy between natural persons and juridical persons –or between personal calling and institutional purpose—as central qualities of a society whose intention it is to be humanitarian.

And it is in this context that it becomes necessary to address the issue of public-private partnership in order to dare rethink the role of institutions in society.

“[…] We must incorporate the values of the common good and people’s dignity to our analogy between natural persons and juridical persons […] as central qualities of a society whose intention it is to be humanitarian.”

This consists in promoting a model of development that questions our preconceptions of the State as the sole guarantor of the public, of companies as generators of wealth and motivators of economy and of civil society as the actor which deals with the causes that neither State nor market can resolve. Otherwise, expectations would center on achieving a harmonious sum of the parts, yet lacking in an integrative perspective.

Having said that, if we take the notion that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, we can resist the mandate that keeps each part to its own, in order to go from the self to the community, from technical knowledge to holistic knowledge, and from a cold, calculating reason to a more “cordial reason.”

From this idea of reciprocal influence, we can envision a sustainable development in which public-private partnership will not merely gather the aseptic contribution of each participant and their specificity, but in which before seeing how or what with I can effect a contribution, I state that I am here.

It follows that we should not only promote multi-sector dialogues, but also participatory processes for the design of public policy as potent instances of interdisciplinary collaboration. How can we not make the most of institutions and people who impact on everyday life by having them contribute to the common good? How can we not acknowledge politics in its noblest expression in order to foster a form of participation that will not leave anyone without a voice?

“Either there is a contribution to the common good or there is no contribution at all”

Those of us involved in institutional representation of any kind must understand that natural persons and juridical persons have much more in common than we think and that if we seek to pin our interpersonal relationships on values such as trust, respect and love, individualistic competition and fragmentation cannot determine our organizational evolution.

“Either there is a contribution to the common good or there is no contribution at all,” we say from Grupo de Fundaciones y Empresas (GDFE – Group of Foundations and Companies), challenging ourselves to raise the qualitative bar of private social investment and interpreting the current discredit of our institutions as an opportunity of refoundation.


javier circle picture

Javier García Moritán

Executive Director

Grupo de Fundaciones y Empresas (GDFE) – Argentina

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