In April 2016 we celebrated the 80th anniversary of Peter Pruzan, Professor Emeritus at Copenhagen Business School and Visiting Professor at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learningin India. Peter Pruzan made important contributions to systems science, management, and business ethics. He is a leading scholar in spiritually-based leadership and one of the initiators of the Europe-India dialogue on spirituality and management. This occasion I recall my most important encounters with Peter Pruzan during the last 25 years. The story reveals Peter Pruzan’s personal and academic profile.
In their book “Phishing for Pools. The Economics of Manipulation and Deception” Nobel-prize-winning economists George Akerlof and Robert Schiller argue that in a free economy when opportunities appear, phishers are always there to manipulate and deceive customers. The book engagingly documents this phenomenon in the markets for alcohol, tobacco, gambling, food, houses, cars, pharmaceuticals, and on the financial markets.
Angels are non-physical beings who perform benevolent acts as intermediaries between God (or Heaven) and Earth. The role of angels includes protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God’s tasks.
What is remarkably about angels is the fact that they do good things without consuming physical matter or energy and hence they do not make any negative impact on the geochemistry of the Earth. The ecological footprint of angels is zero but their overall impact on socio-ecological well-being is highly positive. This kind of beings are needed for restoring the economy of the Earth.
Teaching sustainability requires taking a truly holistic and deeply personal approach. To address issues of sustainability in business I suggest to use the four-dimensional framework developed by Ian Mitroff atUSC in Los Angeles. It says that every important problem has four irreducible aspects: scientific/technical, interpersonal/social, systemic, and existential.
Loy observes that for many modern Buddhists „the path is sometimes understood as a program of psychological development to help us let go of afflictive emotions and resolve personal problems.” But he adds „there is a difficulty if one believes that all problems are due to the way the mind works; the solution, then, is simply to change the mind rather than change the system.”
In early November 2015 President Obama vetoed the Canadian-USA oil pipeline project called Keystone XL. It is a great victory of economic, social and environmental reason. I am especially happy about this decision because in March 2013 in my class in the University of Richmond, Virginia I analyzed the project with American students and we reached a similar negative conclusion.
Stakeholder theory represented by Edward Freeman and others says that business should consider the interests and claims of the stakeholders and manage its activities accordingly. In this view the effective management of stakeholders is a strategic activity that is necessary for business success as it adds value to shareholders and ensures the long-term survival and sustainability of the firm. Ignoring stakeholders is dangerous, not just because it is morally inappropriate, but also because it does not make economic sense.
We see two interrelated problems with this approach. (i) the narrow conception of stakeholders, and (ii) the fallibility of the stakeholders concerning their own well-being.
The current unsustainable state of the Earth is largely caused by business so reconsidering the role of business in society-and-nature is crucial. Without transforming business into a progressive social institution which respects nature, future generations and the common good of society there is no chance for achieving a Sustainable Earth.
Social innovation has a vital role in the sustainability transformation of business and society. Environmentally non-harming and regenerative business solutions can be developed in close collaboration with local societies and societal organizations where the bottom line is value creation for all the stakeholders. Democratic participation in creating new, community-oriented governance mechanisms may foster the required value-shift in business, policy and technology development.
In his article “From Western Marxism to Western Buddhism” philosopher Slavoj Žižek argues that “although Western Buddhism presents itself as the remedy against the stressful tension of capitalist dynamics, allowing us to uncouple and retain inner peace and Gelassenheit, it actually functions as its perfect ideological supplement.” He adds that “one should (...) ‘let oneself go,’ drift along, while retaining an inner distance and indifference toward the mad dance of accelerated process, a distance based on the insight that all this social and technological upheaval is ultimately just a non-substantial proliferation of semblances that do not really concern the innermost kernel of our being.
In 2014 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Karl Polanyi’s death. The Hungarian-born Polanyi -who was professor at Columbia University in New York – was the founder of what he called „universal economic history”. He became famous by his book „The Great Transformation” in which he describes the process by which market takes over society and colonizes every segment of the life-world of people. However, he developed economic ideas which are even more important than this.