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Young Business Leaders

Between Utility and Utopia

Mette Zolner

In a world of sweeping economic, political and social changes, what happens to our values, norms and identities? In particular, what happens to the identities of those actors who are exposed to the forces of globalisation? How do they make sense of their personal and professional lives when they must think globally and act locally?
This book investigates these questions through an empirical analysis of the identities and lives of young business leaders in a France that has undergone considerable institutional changes over the last 70 years. The analysis offers an original perspective by investigating a case of puzzling robustness, namely the identity carried by a particular group of young business leaders, Centre des jeunes dirigeants d’entreprise. Since its founding in 1938, this organisation has put forward the ideal that businesses should go beyond furthering the particular interests of their owners and aspire to work for the common good of society. For the individual business leader, this implies a need to reconcile two objectives: contributing towards making society a better place – creating utopia – and ensuring that his/her business is viable – ensuring utility.
On the basis of a thorough historical and sociological analysis, this book sheds light on how to understand robustness in values and identities in a world of sweeping changes. Moreover, it takes the reader on a fascinating journey into a sector that is largely outside the attention of both the media and scholarly literature: the life-worlds of young leaders of small- and medium-sized companies in France.
Contents: Organisational Narratives of the Centre des jeunes dirigeants d’entreprise – Making Sense in a Changing Institutional Context – Influence within the Organisational Landscape – Organisational Structures and Socialisation – CJD Members: Their Concerns and Their Activism – Between the Local and the Global: Awareness of a French Touch.