Actics: Evaluating the ethical standards of companies

By MichelBauwens, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 12 years 21 weeks ago.

One of the people I really admire for his insights into the new economy is Adam Arviddson of the Actics blog at, who we recently quoted on the Ethical Economy.

One of the key stresspoints of the analysis is that production is now essentially a social process of cooperation, which companies can only nurture and capture 'after the fact':

Arvidsson writes: "“Informational capitalism is characterized by a growing separation between production and valorization. The production of immaterial values like knowledge, affect and sociality increasingly takes place in autonomous processes of technologically empowered communication that unfolds among users themselves. Their valorization occurs through the ability to appropriate a share of the global surplus, which is distributed on financial markets. The ability to accumulate an ethical surplus therefore becomes a necessary condition for the ability to appropriate surplus value. Therefore recent forms of brand management, that intervene directly on social communication without relying primarily on advertising and other forms of propaganda are becoming a central managerial technique for the information economy in general.”

These insights are not just theory, but very much applicable to judge the chances of success of companies. For example, Adam recently pointed out that it is no longer enough for a company to be cool through its design, of which Apple is the paradigmatic example, recently seen with the success of the iPod, but that companies must pay attention to their ethical stance and the social processes in which they are embedded.

As Adam Arvidsson puts it in his recent analysis predicting future trouble for Apple, in relation to its use of underpaid Chinese labour: prosumers “will demand BOTH design AND social responsibility as entry point qualities of major brands.”

Now, what is such an ethically challenged company to do? Here’s where Actics beta version of a new tool for ethical evaluation of companies kicks in. The innovation of Actics is that ethics are not just objectively evaluated, as if there were some universal kind of ethics about which everyone agrees, but it let’s users first of all identify their core values themselves, and only once this is done, is the process of evaluation started.

Have a look here at