Brief note on the trusteeship approach as proposed by Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi proposed the trusteeship approach. A trustee is one who holds property in trust for another/others. For Gandhi, trusteeship is the application of the law of God to human society and human institutions.

Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu | Great ...

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It becomes trusteeship when a company accepts its total responsibility and when management’s role becomes that of balancing all the claims upon the company on the basis of seeking justice as the aim of business…. A company is not a human person, therefore, it cannot have a human soul. What it can and should have is a corporate personality which enables its managers and employees to realize that they are serving the community through the company.

The principle of Trusteeship expresses the inherent responsibility of a business enterprise to its consumers, workers, shareholders, and the community and the mutual responsibilities of these to one another (Goyder 1980).


The concept of trusteeship implies stewardship without ownership. Such stewardship is not for private profit, but for the greatest good of all. Gandhi believed that people should keep the minimum of wealth for themselves to be able to lead a life that millions lead and give up the rest to be held in trust for the greatest good of all.

In Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship these are not supposed to be any possible abuses of private and public property, capitalism, or socialism. But it is an idea, and an ideal, that is still evolving and is not sufficiently crystallized for implementation in letter and spirit.

Whatever the perspective, conflict is inherent in industrial relations due to tensions of command and subordination, competitiveness, exploitation, physical deprivation at work, and economic security. Conflict may arise due to:

I. Wage-work bargain,


II. Managerial system of work governance, or

III. Fundamental divisions and differing values in society.

The interests of groups can be negotiated through collective bargaining. But rights and values are often not amenable or appropriate to bargaining. Conflict manifests itself in one or more of the following forms:

I. Relatively hidden and unorganized individual ways, such as, low employee morale, high labour turnover, absenteeism, accidents, etc.


II. Grievances, indiscipline, etc.

III. Strikes or other forms of industrial action, overt (strike/lockout) or covert (work-to-rule, go-slow, gherao, etc.)

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