4 min read
Mar 2021

A New Business Model Based on Age-Old Principles

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Published March 2021

A podcast featuring Jay Jakub, Economics of Mutuality Chief Advocacy Officer, has been released by Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, which represents over 1,500 family offices across the globe. The host is Edward Marshall, Global Head of Dentons’ Family Office practice.

Jay and Edward discuss the background of the Economics of Mutuality — a new business model based on age-old principles that emerged from the family-owned Mars, Incorporated.

They compare the Economics of Mutuality to impact investing and other strategies that aim to provide social good while reaching financial goals. The discussion is rounded out by an analysis of how the Economics of Mutuality can be applied to running a successful family office.

A short extract of Jay’s contribution has been transcribed below.


At Mars, Incorporated, about 18 months before the last global financial crisis in 2008, John Mars, who is the leader of one of the 3 branches of the Mars family that owns Mars, Incorporated, asked his CEO at the time a very unusual question to come from a shareholder: What should be the right level of profit?

And I say that this is an unusual question because shareholders would only usually think about it in terms of getting as much profit as one can possibly squeeze out of the value chain. But actually, John was asking a very different question and expecting a different answer. He was thinking about the company only being as strong as the weakest link in the value chain — and that if you end up taking too much profit, you wind up with a squeezing effect. This would then cause a disequilibrium that would disadvantage Mars, Incorporated.

When that question was handed over to the Chief Economist of the company, who was the leader of the internal think-tank at Mars where I worked, we pondered this question. We wondered whether this was a new question or actually a really old question. We were reminded of the wisdom of King Solomon from thousands of years ago when he said ‘A man may give freely and still his wealth will be increased. Another may keep back more than is right and only come to be in need.’ So actually, people have been thinking about this idea of the right level of profit for a long time.

Economics of Mutuality was what we ended up calling it because it was centred on one of the 5 key principles that Mars operates – the Mutuality Principle, defined more as reciprocity than wealth distribution. Reciprocally beneficial relationships create more resilient and performant business activities. I guess you could say the Economics of Mutuality is a new business model based on age-old principles – to codify and action mutuality throughout a business.

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