Society's Expectations of Corporate Performance Today (Some Discussions about a ?Global Performance')

AuthorYvon Pesqueux
PositionProfessor, PhD, Université Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, France
Performance and Risks in the European Economy
Society’s Expectations of Corporate Performance
Today (Some Discussions about a ‘Global Performance’)
Yvon Pesqueux
Abstract: Society’s expectat ions regarding the performance of major corporations could not really have
been examined before now. This is to say that, within the political context of the modern world, society had
no expectations of corporations, which were considered as one social construct among others. From a broad
political perspective, societal expectations could be seen expressed in the exercise of representative
democracy. The political context (t he ‘liberal moment’ herein), which has developed since the early 1980s
actually changed the general perspective. (1
argument) The main consequence is a s hift in the dominant
representation of the corporation, so that it is currently considered a vector of profit rather than a ‘socio-
technical’ system. (2
argument). Of course, the ambiguity of the very notion of performance did make it
possible to integrate expectations b eyond just profits (3
argument); nonetheless, these expecta tions must be
judged both in terms of hope and reality. (Conclusion)
Keywords: performance; major corporations; modern world; profit
JEL Classification: G3; G30
1. The Context of the ‘Liberal Moment’
The liberal moment serves as the bridge between a political concept of ‘living in’ a sovereign state and
the concept of ‘living with’ others. The former relies on a classical Enlightenment perspective seeking
to link democracy and liberty through references to universal law and the people’s sovereignty;
whereas, the latter uses the ‘neo-liberal’ perspective which retrieves liberal ideas of removing the
individual from any form of submission, of merging the universality of the law with the ‘particularity’
of interests, and of conferring a third power on the Judge because of the tension between rights and the
law. The ‘social’ opinion thus fits in with the universal principles (as they are not discussed) and with
the law, which stems from political power. In other words, the reference to opinion brings into play
both civil society and social judgment-elements found at the heart of governance. Governance relies
on the expression of a social judgment, which embraces both the form of governing (container) and
the result of the acts of government (content). Moreover, governance favors judgment on form
(‘quantified or contained’ empirical evidence) over judgment on the content because results of the acts
of government generally take place within a historical context. Indeed, this logic underwrites
expectations of performance by large companies.
The ‘liberal moment’ (Pesqueux, 2007) is characterized by overlaps among:
a traditional political liberalism putting forth the principle of liberty; i.e., the connection between
the universality of laws and the expression of particular interests;
an economic liberalism putting forth freedom of expression of material interests but retains more of
the ‘laisser-faire’ idea;
, Professor, P hD, Université Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, France, Address: 292 Saint Martin St, 7 5 141 Paris
Cédex 03 France, Tel.: +33 (0)6 01 40 27 21 63, Fax: +33 (0)6 0 1 40 27 26 55, Corresponding Author:, Web Site:

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