It matters what the public values: companies and public value

Prof Meynhardt discussed public value and why companies lose their legitimation without public value orientation with doctoral students of the ERL program.

Prof. Meynhardt, Dr. Arend Oetker Chair of Business Psychology and Leadership at the HHL Leipzig, gave a talk about “Leadership and Common Good/Pubic value” in course of a jour fixe of the doctoral program “Ethics and Responsible Leadership in Business”. He argued that companies lose their societal legitimation basis if their core business does not contribute to public value. Public value orientation also pays off economically. Meynhardt defines public value as that what the public values. People have a clear conception about what is valuable for the public and who contributes to it according to his research. Four different basic human needs are reflected in all conceptions of public value: the need for orientation and control, for positive relationships, for pleasure and avoidance of displeasure, and for self-worth preservation and growth. The doctoral candidates questioned, for example, whether people really have a clear and correct conception of public value. Should or can scientists and especially ethicists criticize public value conceptions? Does Meynhardt´s definition open manipulation opportunities for companies by deliberately influencing public opinion? Prof Meynhardt empathized that one should trust people´s feelings with regard to the question what is good for the public.