reframing and political action in business

reframing and political action
This paper has shown how the framing of retail banking can affect what is visible and open to debate.
The point is not to simply replace one frame with another, but to open up alternative ways of
looking at problems and to find points of intervention so that the field of stakeholder interests is
cranked open. The dominant framing of the UK retail banking sector as being insufficiently
competitive clearly points to key features of the market, namely, concentration and the
unwillingness or inability of customers to change their provider. The reframing of retail banking does
not mean that these features are irrelevant; rather it puts them into a context which offers a
different interrogation of the problem. Thus, it is not simply that the UK industry is highly
concentrated. Rather, the monoculture of shareholder-owned banks pursue mimetic behaviours
intended to improve return on equity, but these create the conditions for opacity, mis-selling and a
business model overly-dependent on property lending. Tackling this is likely to require not a more
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competitive market but a different conception of the purpose of banking and of stakeholder
interests; and a willingness to keep a utility service out of the realm of financialization. In this
respect, introducing business model analysis into the debate about banking reform puts into practice
the calls by Willmott (2012) and others for knowledge that can make contributions to debates about
public interest.