If the economy is not in constant struggle anyway, then during Corona times there are increased signs of war effects. Understanding the wider context is important. It takes critical thinking, courage, and a belief in positive change. But how? My repeated lesson is: win self-control instead of economic wars so that everyone benefits.
The virtual realm was slowly but surely occupied, administered and borrowed again by the large technology and telecommunications corporations. Compared with the acquisition of the physical land at that time, the www landowners have now also established themselves. The main shopping streets are no longer in the city center, but on the well-known online markets. With the cell phone in everyone’s pocket, cyber space has become an omnipresent and real shopping, experience, work, and communication space . Despite the predominance of monopolistic Internet providers and platforms, the virtual world was not yet fully conquered. There were also alternatives (such as platform cooperatives [2, 3]) and free web addresses for development. Certain data, the oil of today, were not yet in the hands of the information processors, although these global companies have probably already known more than the respective governments themselves for some time. The race for the few not yet occupied network areas and their positioning was definitely still in full swing.
A lot of money is invested in Silicon Valley, where investors slowly become impatient as new investment gains, e.g. in the area of social media, didn’t realize surely and rapidly enough. In general, the profit-seeking economy was overheating. I feared war because war is profitable at this level . With Corona, a lot is now also going online and the major providers were able to step in quickly. Small and medium-sized businesses, on the other hand, have to close or sell cheaply to investors who then earn double during the rebuilding; this war effect works well with corona measures.
Fortunately, the total mortality does not seem to be any higher this year than in other years, with Corona or not ; The idea of a disease that would “solve” the “problem” of an aging population and thus an unproductive and pension-devouring population would be terrible. Where it is not about the digital economy but about natural resources, we will continue to see traditional wars. In most countries, possibly thanks to measures such as related to Corona and the resulting asset redistribution, these are no longer necessary. There is no need for conventional armies of soldiers today. To dictate the direction of the crowd, digital distraction, incitement, and advertising are also sufficient [6, 7, 8] *. The battle for people’s attention has been very advanced for a long time: Advertisement and monitoring at any online occasion, anywhere, anytime. Technology-related ever shorter attention spans of people only make them more prone to following whoever shouts the loudest (or who can spend the most money on positioning of content).
Hopefully, after the shutting down of the traditional local offline economy in favor of the global online tech world, there will be some calm again, respectively enough capital of the capital holders will have increased and the threads in the puppet play of the global digital economy under control as desired. In that case, if the widening gap between rich and poor [8, 9, 10] does not lead to local unrest, a lot of blood spilling and the environment might have been spared for a moment; apart from technology / energy consumption and psychological factors, which also lead to mortality.
At least, a physical war attack is difficult for the individual ordinary citizen to fend off; However, staying psychologically healthy is always in our individual control given the appropriate knowledge and discipline (11, 12, 13) and depends little on economic factors (14, 15, 16). Perhaps psychology will soon be taught in schools instead of the history of battles and wars . I would still be for such an approach. The way to peace seems to lie in the ability of each individual to self-control and to be moderate through a reorientation towards intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation [18 – 24]. In this sense, the focus would shift from technology and a capitalistic economy back to people [25, 26], and so-called humanitarian crises (crises that are actually economically caused) would be prevented in the long term.
Is there any hope of change? Yes and no. The individual psychological forces to establish and approve systems that disadvantage the general population are very strong. Unfortunately, it is often the particularly disadvantaged who justify authoritarian forces . Whether, despite technology, enough fears can be distributed locally in political and social structures to keep people fearful enough not to wake up, remains questionable. It is to be hoped that the critical thinking, courage and belief in positive changes that are also widespread, can ultimately prevail. It is important to strengthen the self-confidence of each individual; Humanistic, transpersonal psychology, art, and sport are feasible ways to do this, which I also consistently advocate.
* Once more self-serving fake news? Not too credible? Not enough likes? Would you like more information? You are welcome to read the scientific sources and backgrounds in the resources listed below (which is not available even in renowned media). This is important to me, although many readers can no longer muster the attention span even for this length and type of text. I hope you find a lot of exciting things about it, and thank you for your attention. Please share the text if you find this valuable. All the best – Mathias Sager
Summary. This article critically sheds light on current socio-economic challenges for Japan and the need for developing a global mindset for companies in a globalizing world. With little chance for getting a management position before the age of 40 and confronted with dominating domestic demand for a monolingual male workforce, Japan’s youth gets blamed for being ‘insular’ and individually responsible for the lack of global mindsets. To improve global success, Japanese HR practices’ global talent management programs have to address the need for highly skilled and globally minded talents in Japan and their expatriates. Japan-specific, step-by-step, and creative alternative solutions may be required to make it happen.
Japan’s current unclear development of its role in global economy comes from various challenges such as two decades lasting economic stagnation  and increased competition from China and India . Salary men sweat devotedly for the big companies and government agencies for the return of stable careers, while their wives take care of raising the next generation guaranteeing the continuation of the system that has become antithetical to fast-paced global changes . A global mindset is needed for many Japanese organization, and there are calls for a related shift in education (; ). However, most Japanese companies favor domestic monolingual male workforce , which informs higher education in the way that fewer and fewer students in Japan envision to study abroad . The collectivist Japanese culture might emphasize that trend as the unity of family raises expectations for children not to stay away from their family and take care of their parents .
Japanese see the development of a global mindset as an individual rather than an organizational burden. Due to seniority-based promotion systems, only 9% of Japanese managers are below the age of 40, compared to 62% in India and 76% in China . Ironically, the lack of talents with global mindsets has not been associated with strict hiring practices, bigoted immigration policies, or with conservative firm cultures but instead the ‘insular’ young people, the so-called ‘uchimuki,’ are blamed for keeping the island inwardly retreated .
Japanese HRM practices’ global talent management initiatives have been reported to not being suitable to attract sufficient talent with a global mindset for multinational enterprises . English in Japan is still treated as belonging to the US or UK rather than being a global language . HR brokers until today have mostly focused on low-skilled short-term immigration . Therefore, not surprisingly, Japan ranks last behind all major industrialized nations regarding the percentage of foreign academics and engineers employed .
A trend of an increasing number of Japanese self-initiated expatriate entrepreneurs to developing countries in Asia indicates the presence of not only entrepreneurial but also global mindsets as related to social and sustainability missions . Japanese multinationals, however, comparatively have difficulties to go international with their often highly successful local businesses in which the home-country expatriates obviously need to re-assess their globalization abilities . For example, Japanese business men are used to relationship-based marketing  and would need to adapt to a more need-based style when selling abroad . Maybe hybrid forms of globalization activities, developed through Japan-based HR training can advance the integration of cultural differences to promote global success . Anti-globalization sentiments after the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima in 2011 and perceptions of unfairly exploitative global businesses may require an alternative kind of globalization as happening in the arts that, e.g., builds on alternative smaller destinations . Step-by-step quick wins could increase confidence in more long-term investment into global mindsets to improve results from globalization .
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(1) Distinct Co-operative Governance Challenges, (2) Distributed Leadership (DL), Self-awareness, Servant Leadership, and Safe Learning Spaces, (3) Empowerment for Service, Democracy, and Value-based Management, (4) Accountability for Strategic Leadership Processes: “Leading is a function, not a status.”
Distinct Co-operative Governance Challenges
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Co-operatives that are run according to cooperative principles, face distinct challenges compared to governments or for-profit organizations. About 90 percent of contemporary leadership research is not directly relevant for the NGO context. . Furthermore, the available approaches to co-operative leadership need to be tailored according to organizational structure and maturity, economic sector, and membership size .
In a time of mystification and celebration of top-down leadership , capitalist shareholder dominance, and the absence of teaching foundations of cooperative democratic principles in schools, NGOs and Co-ops nevertheless continue to prioritize cooperation, especially by democratic and participatory principles that foster the inclusive membership’s well-being beyond pure business goals (Pinto, 2011). The cooperative governance model developed over decades by the CDS Consulting Co-op  has proven to provide leadership guidance to meet these unique needs by structuring governance elements into the four pillars of (1) teaming, (2) accountable empowerment, (3) democracy, and (4) strategic leadership. The following selected possible leadership program aspects are recommended to address the governance challenges of early-stage, still small cooperative organizations with a diverse and growing volunteering membership base.
Distributed Leadership (DL), Self-awareness, Servant Leadership, and Safe Learning Spaces
Protagonist leaders not sharing appropriately information are roadblocks to the active participation of co-leaders (e.g., other board members) and other members as everyone is supposed to participate in the democratic process . Mutually owned solution development involving all stakeholders (i.e., diverse member categories and other stakeholders in a multi-stakeholder cooperative) cultivate creativity . The risk of stakeholders pursuing their individual career goals at the cost of enhanced social networks and shared knowledge has to be prevented . Cooperative enterprises require concerted collective action . Such a collective capacity  is necessary to sustainably pool resources and know-how and can be addressed by the distributed leadership (DL) paradigm . Co-ops may foresee to offer leadership education that is addressing the dimensions of DL, which are “bounded empowerment, developing leadership, shared decision and collective engagement” (, p. 693).
A higher self-awareness may be needed for individuals to make sense of the broader cooperative perspective . DL suggests a culture of intensified inquiry among individuals  that can be positively influenced by increased self-efficacy, job satisfaction, and creative behavior among the members. A co-op can consider administering the validated DL instrument as the basis for its leadership development . Especially at early stages of forming an organization, group coaching as proposed by Fusco, O’Riordan, and Palmer (2015)  to develop authentic self-leadership within the team can be an appropriate activity as well. Servant leadership characteristics showed global validity and could inform the coaching approach and the creation of safe learning spaces for experimentation , which can be of high value especially in multi-cultural and human-oriented communities .
Empowerment for Service, Democracy, and Value-based Management
It was a misbelief that paid Board members would remain solidary to volunteer work . Rather, a study with students found that independent commitment to service provides for meaningful learning experiences and collaborative capacity building . Democracy offers a meaningful collective leadership approach  that can enhance innovative behavior and commitment among the members who have the possibility for representation in the governance of the organization .
The members need to be offered the potential for own socio-economic success as a result from collective operation , best based on a stakeholder analysis allowing for alignment of different members’ incentives . Engagement comes from understanding the purpose, vision, and values of the organization . Indeed, value-based management helps to create a shared sense of belonging to all stakeholders , which is vital team-building success. More specifically, a formal value statement can help keeping up values required for shared leadership development. A clear positioning against external competition might eliminate internal competition , which can be achieved by training . Another proposition is journaling to analyze how members experience their service contributions, a measure that has been able to confirmed the joy of service .
Accountability for Strategic Leadership Processes: “Leading is a function, not a status.”
Every minute of volunteering should be appreciated, and different levels of engagement between and within members over time accepted. Therefore, rather than defining and assigning roles and responsibilities to which it could be challenging to adhere to, accountability should be promoted. That way leaders can freely emerge without conflicts with non-matching role descriptions . As Cannell (2018)  puts it aptly, “leading is a function, not a status.” Any, and especially also young members should be encouraged to self-nominate for leadership and management roles . Technology can support strategy processes, planning, budgeting, member and associate management, as well as communication and media . The Social Change Model of Leadership offers a framework on which leadership development programs could be built on to facilitate value-based collaborative group processes for social change  and the encouragement of new leaders .
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When presenting Platform Cooperativism as a fairer user-/worker-owned model of running online platforms, I often hear answers like “that’s a great idea, but it’s too difficult to realize.” However, technology to implement the co-operative digital economy is emerging. Solutions become available to sustainably crowd-source, share value, and govern democratically. Hexalina.io is one such example.
It is now generally admitted that income inequality is one of the biggest problems of our world and a peril to the fabric of our society. A few years ago, the rise of the “sharing economy” gave great hopes to change this: soon everybody would be self-employed, and benefit from the new opportunities unlocked by the internet, technology and platforms.
Today, unfortunately, the reality is bleaker: millions of people have indeed become self-employed and provide the services that increase –sometimes dramatically- the value of these platforms thanks to the network effect they create and the customer adoption they generate.
However, neither the contributors, nor the customers of the platforms have the opportunity to own a share of the value they create.
A lot of people realize this is counterproductive and eventually unsustainable. However, there seems to be no easy solution that can address the problem and scale to match its rate of expansion.
What we propose is a technology that can be integrated into platforms, allowing them to adopt a more collaborative approach where interests of owners, customers and contributors are aligned, because a fraction of the created value is shared fairly between them.
Think of it as the “Fairtrade” label for a platform. We call it the “sustainable network effect”.
Industry adaption of Platform Cooperativism is the goal of the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium. Although awareness and motivation for the co-operative way is crucial, if there is no easy way to act upon, good intentions don’t get realized. That’s where technology solutions come into play.
The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.
The percentage of employees employed by small and medium enterprises (SME’s) decreased from 80% to 70% in the last 20 years. Issues regarding the ownership succession of businesses are essential in the light of an aging society and the need for sustainable socio-economic development. The SME Cooperative Act of 1949 is for small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The creation of a worker co-operative law would allow the further formalization of the opportunity of business conversions into worker cooperatives in any business sector. Business successions to employees would create a fairer economy where the trinity of ownership (investors), management (managers), and value creation/utilization (workers, users) is balanced for the benefits of its active membership.
Number of SME’s in Japan has fallen by 1 million during the last 20 years
It would be great if we could already discuss co-operative ownership succession of large organizations. However, I’m not aware of a “buy-twitter-initiative” in Japan so far. So, the more immediate opportunity for Platform Cooperativism may lie with small and medium businesses. Over the past 20 years, the number of SMEs in Japan has fallen by about 1 million and the number of SME employees decreased from 80% to 70% percent of overall employment (White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan 2016). I am not sure how much the demographic challenges of the aging society would be the cause of such a decline in the digital sector especially, as increasing eliminatory market dominance of the big corporations is an inherent feature of many digital platforms.
Opportunity for ownership succession to employees
I experience that Japanese observers are regretting the disappearing of SME’s due to a lack of successful succession management. A similar issue represents the continuing rural exodus. There is mentioning of that when the business successions among SMEs are becoming issues, business successions to non-family persons, such as employees, are increasing (Kubota, 2010). So, I feel there are lots of opportunities to promote the co-operative way, although the predominant family business succession models are to the family or third parties other than employees and are separating ownership and management. Japan is currently still one of the few developed countries without a worker coop law, which is certainly not helpful.
For example, in agriculture, the succession and inheritance aspect is (globally) less researched because there is a view that family farming is heading towards extinction anyway. However, as still many farms are owned and managed by families, there may be renewed interest in intergenerational and intra- and inter-family cooperative solutions such as worker co-operatives.
Japanese business cooperation
Japanese small businesses are typically strongly cooperating and sub-contracting between companies, also for the rehabilitation of (struggling) small enterprises. There is a system of Small and Medium Enterprise Cooperatives based on the SME Cooperative Act from 1949, facilitating small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The joint business cooperatives are, e.g., joint store associations, chain business associations, joint investing companies and voluntary groups.
The Japanese business system, also described as “co-opetition”, a mix of severe competition and collectivist Japanese culture, may be a fertile ground for #platformcoopjp. On the other hand, tendencies of specializing employees to contribute to a collective raise the question of how easily employees can assume initiative and more active (intrapreneurship) roles in case of becoming part of an employee-owned/managed organization.
The Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium is continuing to collaborate and research for the exploration of opportunities in applying co-operative (platform) solutions to business successions and share the lessons learned also outside of Japan.
The king has, in the struggle of defending his crown, given the virtual land to the landlords. Now the peasants pay the tolls to the privileged class who rules the online territory for the maximization of its own financial profits and influence. How will the insurgency look like? Time for (re-) new(-ed) alliances for effective and hopefully non-violent rebellion.
Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) connects key stakeholders of the emerging platform economy ecosystem to create synergies in the pursuit of increased shared value, ownership, and governance. The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.
Inspiration from the History of Switzerland:
The Old Swiss Confederacy began as a late medieval alliance between the communities of the valleys in the Central Alps, at the time part of the Holy Roman Empire, to facilitate the management of common interests such as free trade and to ensure the peace along the important trade routes through the mountains. With the rise of the Habsburg dynasty, the kings and dukes of Habsburg sought to extend their influence over this region and to bring it under their rule. The foreign landlords collected tolls from bridges. Anti-Habsburg insurgences sprung up, but were quashed quickly. This time of turmoil prompted the Waldstätten to cooperate more closely, trying to preserve or regain their Reichsfreiheit. On August 1, 1291, an Everlasting League was made between the Forest Communities for mutual defense against a common enemy. The three founding cantons of the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, as the confederacy was called, managed to defeat Habsburg armies on several occasion, and ensured a de facto independence from the empire. The Freibrief, or freedom charter, to “the people of the valleys,” recognized and formalized in law the independence from the Habsburg that they had gradually won in fact.