Ad Fontes: to the sources

The origin of the values of Frits Goldschmeding

Frits Goldschmeding personally formulated the core values of the Randstad Group, ‘to know, to serve and to trust’ people, in the annual reports of the period 1978-1984. These basic principles determined his vision on people, work and economy, the three research domains to which the Goldschmeding Foundation for People, Work and Economy will contribute. Later Goldschmeding added that ideally people, their work and the economy would be driven by love. Love (caritas, agapè) is not only the basis of the core values, it is also intertwined with them.

To clarify how his vision on people, work and economy is determined by the above mentioned values, it is necessary to take into consideration the sources that the founder of the Goldschmeding Foundation has referred to during his search for who we are, what work entails and what a good economy would look like and how it could come to exist.

 

jaarverslagen randstad

 

Goldschmeding owes many of his ideas about how a social enterprise should function to the Christian tradition in general and to the Professors H. Dooyeweerd and T.P. van der Kooy in particular. The leading thought in the teachings of Dooyeweerd is that there are many aspects to distinguish in an individual or a society. The economic aspect is among many others, merely one aspect of the reality of an individual or a society. Knowledge of the aspects doctrine as interpreted by Van der Kooy, kept him from, based on a limited reference framework, making the mistake of limiting himself to only one aspect of reality and seeing this aspect as unrelated to the other aspects which are inherent to being human. This insight confirmed his belief that ‘the economy’ should never be seen as a monolithic block.

The economic aspect is merely one aspect of the reality of an individual or society

The insight that a vison on the economy would be enriched by questions and input from other disciplines, imprinted on Goldschmeding the thought that in an enterprise, various aspects that are at the basis of both the individual and the enterprise should be recognised and acknowledged. If an enterprise simultaneously fulfils multiple interests of both directly and indirectly involved parties, it is not desirable that only economic aspects are taken into account. Other aspects such as the social, psychological and ethical aspects should be taken into account in simultaneous advocacy.

In simultaneous advocacy, ‘to know, to serve and to trust’ can be imperative as the elaboration of the ethical aspect of things. Golschmeding did not hesitate to bring to attention that love needs to play a role in this aspect. Augustinus’ vision of caritas taught him that this power allows people to strive for perfection, despite their imperfection. Therefore the main task of a company is to maintain the caritas, so that knowing, serving and trusting each other can be sincere and fruitful.

To the sources of the Goldschmeding Foundation

To know, to serve and to trust (in Dutch)

1. Dooyeweerd

Goldschmeding’s view on how a social enterprise should function is based on the aspects doctrine of Dooyeweerd. The guiding thought in this doctrine is that many aspects may be distinguished in every individual or society. The economic aspect for example is, among others, merely one aspect of the reality of an individual or society.

2. Van der Kooy

Knowledge of the aspects doctrine as interpreted by Van der Kooy, has urged Goldschmeding not to see only one aspect of reality, but instead all aspects inherent to being human and that belong in a vision of managing a company. Simultaneous advocacy of all those directly and indirectly involved is reflected in this.

3. Augustine

The concept of love according to Augustine makes clear that pure love exists by the virtue of benevolence, the focus on self-accomplishment and on the advancement of the other. The sharing of joy and sorrow, of wellbeing and poverty. The mutual use of each other’s services and the sharing of profits and losses pursues the Augustinian conception of love.

4. Matthew

The commandment of love of Matthew is timeless. The relationship between people is more fulfilling if love is a binding force; people are more complete when they are loved. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets’ (Matthew 22: 37-40).

We want to enable people to develop a better economy by means of meaningful work in which love and happiness are not to be separated

 

Goldschmeding’s view on people, their work and the economy will be assessed by placing it in the light of the sources. It will repeatedly become clear that the singularity of Goldschmeding’s view on these matters are determined by his schooling. An interdisciplinary approach was pursued, even before the word was invented. This approach paid off because people, their work and the economy were never seen independently from the overall well-being of people, the organisation, company or society as a whole.

 

Simultane belangenbehartiging
‘Simultaneous advocacy’: beavers and bees (Annual report of Randstad 1978)

 

With the help of the Goldschmeding Foundation for People, Work and Economy, the principles that resonate in the image of man and the view on work and the economy will be further reflected upon. As such it forms a benchmark for further research but also a prelude to further questions. Still the saying of poet (and psychiatrist) Rutger Kopland applies: ‘whoever has found an answer, has not asked the right question.’ And ever the adage of Augustine: ‘Mihi magna quaestio factus sum’: ‘I have become to myself a great question.’ Contemplating his life, his love, his cognition, his faith in humanity, as well as the way in which he and others had served himself, he could not help but sigh this.

In the programme ‘Ad fontes: to the sources’, two studies will be conducted. The first is entitled ‘The fall of the economy’ led by Dr. Joost Hengstmengel examining how the idea of self-serving has made its way into the economic discourse and what alternative has consequently disappeared from the view. The second study, led by Dr. Roshnee Ossewaarde-Lowtoo is titled: ‘The creative power of love: the creation of reliable economic and political actors.’ The starting point of this research is that the reliability on which our economic and political institutions are based, can only be restored when major economic and political players become trustworthy. Therefore, the study discusses the relationship between the impartial and selfless love and those aspects that make people trustworthy, such as prudence, fidelity, abnegation and justice.

 

Paul van Geest
Prof. dr. Paul van Geest Professor in Church History, Tilburg School of Catholic Theology