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Greed, Poverty, the human brain, and the value of a different way – a case study on the Power Group of Companies. Dr. Dion Forster

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Presentation on theme: "Greed, Poverty, the human brain, and the value of a different way – a case study on the Power Group of Companies. Dr. Dion Forster"— Presentation transcript:

1 Greed, Poverty, the human brain, and the value of a different way – a case study on the Power Group of Companies. Dr. Dion Forster

2 Prolegomenon: A few facts about poverty and Greed in South Africa and the world.

3 What is greed? · “..excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves “

4 South Africa – an upper-middle income country… Julian May (2002:2) states, “South Africa is an upper-middle-income country with a per capita income similar to that of Botswana, Brazil, Malaysia or Mauritius. Despite this relative wealth, the experience of the majority of South African households is either one of outright poverty, or of continued vulnerability to becoming poor. Furthermore, the distribution of income and wealth in South Africa may be the most unequal in the world.”

5 The strongest economies on the continent… (Gauteng is bigger than Morocco!) KZN is bigger than Sudan and Tunisia…) 23 rd strongest in the world!

6 BUT! “…Poverty, unemployment, housing shortages, inadequate education and training, illiteracy, health needs and numerous other problems still stand in the way of progress and prosperity and improved quality of life…”(FW de Klerk in Webb 1994: 120)

7 Why? The difference between development and growth… GREED!

8 Consider this!

9 What about the rest of the world? Brown, Lester 2008 (Plan B 3.0 – Mobilizing to save civilization)

10 What about the rest of the world? Brown, Lester 2008 (Plan B 3.0 – Mobilizing to save civilization)

11 What about the rest of the world? Brown, Lester 2008 (Plan B 3.0 – Mobilizing to save civilization)

12 All this to illustrate… Greed is a problem that leads to poverty. It can be changed…

13 Two basic thesis: Thesis 1: Greed is part of human nature (it is ‘hard wired’)…

14 A few basic facts about GREED and the Brain. Greed is ultimately part of human nature… Max Otte supports his statements with some scientific studies, as expected from a professor. Among others he describes an experiment where students were asked questions concerning financial investments while having their heads in a MRI scanner. One of the questions was whether they wanted 100 dollars now or rather 110 dollars in 4 months. The MRI scanner then showed which parts of the brain were especially active during the answering of the questions. Every time, the test subject was “greedy”, i.e. wanted the 100 dollars immediately, the cerebellum exhibited a high level of activity. In the history of evolution the cerebellum is a very old part of the brain which is also found in reptiles—one could say it contains our primary rudimentary instinct. However, those test subjects who decided for the 110 dollars in 4 months exhibited a high level of activity in the cerebrum that is used for conscious thinking.

15 The ‘old brain’

16 The 3 basic questions of every ‘old brain’ Survival is key… – Can I eat it? Will it eat me? – Can I mate with it? Will it mate with me? – Can I recognise it? (recursive loop)… BUT, not only survival, but efficiency! However, it is clear that there are some individuals and systems that change this cycle…

17 Thesis 2: Because of survival and energy efficiency there MUST be a value transaction to change behaviour. The question is… What is the VALUE? Can ‘healthier’ values be facilitated or taught?

18 A case study: Graham Power and the Power Group of Companies.

19 The company Started in 1983 Currently the largest privately owned construction and development company in South Africa. Annual turnover of 1.4 Billion rand 1500 employees.

20 This shifts in Graham’s life: A conversion to the Christian faith in 1999 Wealth and money in 2000 / 2001  Graham Power Charitable Trust. The formation of the Power Group Charitable Trust Fund

21 Some implications: Personally no longer motivated by greed: – Wealth is capped – Has entered into a ‘higher’ value proposition  obedience to the principles of the Christian faith. – Examples: Gives away 51% of personal income Chose not to list the Power Group The company can make decisions based on a bigger value transaction. – The 100 year dream – The Group’s purpose ‘To improve the lives of people in Africa through infrastructure development’

22 In conclusion… There should be enough resources to heal and sustain the earth Greed is part of human nature (because of our makeup)… But it is not an economic proposition, it is a value transaction There is another way…

23 The question is…. Can the third way be ‘taught’ or ‘learnt’..


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