Towards a Society-Oriented Capitalism: Do Cooperatives and Mutuals Match Particularly Well from a Corporate Law Perspective?

Michael Lanser, Senior Legal Counsel, Skandia Mutual Life Insurance Company, Sweden

The modern free-market capitalism was born with the Industrial Revolution. Resting on exploiting individuals’ self-interest, capitalism evolved into a powerful and dynamic system that raised our productive capacity and living standards significantly. But, as is commonly argued, the system has also contributed to inequality and environmental degradation. The idea that the sole purpose of business is to make profits for owners of the firm and that everything else is a means to that end remains the dominant mental model for business. By acknowledging the interdependent nature of life and the human foundations of business, arguments have been made that business needs to consciously create value with and for all its stakeholders (owners, customers, employees, suppliers, investors, communities, the environment, etc.). That is, business should have a higher purpose that transcends an existence of just generating profits for one of its stakeholders, and thus find ways to exploit the potential of business in support of a broader society-oriented capitalism. Cooperatives and mutuals play an important role in the global economy and society, representing enterprises across all business sectors. These corporations are member-user driven enterprises. This paper discusses whether its form of ownership should in itself be understood as representing a stakeholder-oriented model aimed at contributing to a broader society-oriented capitalism. Keywords: cooperatives, mutuals, people-centred enterprises, society-oriented capitalism, stakeholder(s)

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Sweden Insurance Insurance September 2020 Vol.13, No. 52, Summer 2020

Michael Lanser

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Michael Lanser holds a degree of Master of Laws from Stockholm University, Sweden, and a postgraduate Master of Laws degree in Comparative Law, Economics and Finance (LL.M. CLEF) from the International University College of Turin jointly with the University of Turin, Italy. At present Michael Lanser works as a senior legal counsel at Skandia Mutual Life Insurance Company in Sweden. Additionally, Michael Lanser serves as member of the board of directors of two Swedish limited liability companies that offer administration services relating to pensions and other employment benefits, and has served as a board member of a Swedish asset management company and of an alternative investment fund company domiciled in Luxembourg.

Skandia Mutual Life Insurance Company

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Skandia Mutual Life Insurance Company is a mutual insurance company incorporated and registered in Sweden, and the parent company within the Skandia Group. The Skandia Group is one of the largest independent providers of products for long-term savings and investments in Sweden. The Skandia Group originally started out its Swedish insurance business in 1855. Skandia offers products and services that cater for various financial needs and security. Its operations are based on a combination of savings, insurance, advice and administration. The number of employees in the Skandia Group is around 2,000 and the group has about 1.8 million customers.

Sweden Insurance Insurance September 2020 Vol.13, No. 52, Summer 2020
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