Papers

Issues and Themes in Moral Economics

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Issues and Themes in Moral Economics.' , in Economics as a Moral Science, eds. Peter Rona, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2017. (This book may be available at: Springer)

This paper summarizes the main issues and themes in the development of moral economics. Zamagni suggests that we can harness market interactions by re-defining the market in a non-individualistic way, as a network of mutually beneficial relations, along the lines suggested by the civil economy paradigm. Bouckaert underlines that thinking of economics as a relational dynamic opens a space for human creativity without losing the embeddedness in a system of meaning and purpose.

Economic Rationality versus Human Reason

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Economic Rationality versus Human Reason .' , in Economics as a Moral Science, eds. Peter Rona, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2017. (This book may be available at: Springer)

First the paper analyses the rationality assumptions of mainstream economics and shows that they are empirically misleading and normatively inadequate. It argues that the world ruled by self-interest based rationality of economic actors leads to ’unreason’ from a wider ecological and human perspective. The paper illuminates that human reason requires a different way of economic functioning which implies a redefinition of the final goal economizing.

It is argued that the main goal of economic activities should not be profit-making but providing right livelihood for people. Amartya Sen suggests that economic reason can be understood as reasonableness of preferences, choices and actions. Reason requires that economic activities are achieved in ecological, future-respecting and pro-social ways. Intrinsically motivated economic agents who balance their attention and concerns across diverse value-dimensions are able to do this and show the viability of true economic reason under the circumstances of present day “rationally foolish” economic world.

Agenda for Future Research and Action

Peter Rona, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Agenda for Future Research and Action.' , in Economics as a Moral Science, eds. Peter Rona, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2017. (This book may be available at: Springer)

This paper is about the restoration of economics as a moral science. It is argued that economics, unlike the natural sciences, does not have an ontologically objective subject, because economic life, unlike matter, is the product of human intentionality. Economic phenomena are always necessarily incommensurate because they occur in historical time and space.

People make their economic decisions by employing practical knowledge (or wisdom). Practical knowledge is the human capacity for the reflective and critical  evaluation of our reasons for action. It is the totality of our capacities – including feelings, tastes,  experience, impulses and rational reasoning – ordered and filtered to critically evaluate  sources of our lives we engage and deploy in making decisions. Accordingly, economics is a form of practical knowledge or reason.

Gift and gratuitousness are basic facts of human life. Persons, communities and organizations are endowed with natural, social, cultural and spiritual wealth as free gift. In their economic functioning they should acknowledge, preserve and enrich their material and non-material heritage. The adequate response to gratuitous giving is gratefulness and generosity toward those who provided the gift.  

Spirituality-inspired Creativity in Business

Laszlo Zsolnai, & Katalin Illes 'Spirituality-inspired Creativity in Business.' International Journal of Social Economics, 2017, vol.44, no. 2, pp. 195-205

The paper investigates the relation of spirituality and creativity in business context. It  presents practical examples of spiritual-based creative business models in different faith traditions (Hinduism, Christianity and Anthroposophy).  The authors argue that spirituality and a deep sense of connectedness are essential to enhance creativity and care in business. Spirituality creates free space and openness to allow the future to emerge organically. It creates a distance between the self and the pressures of the market and the routines of business and daily life. This distance is a necessary condition for developing creative, ethical and responsible solutions to the complex challenges around us.

The Effect of the Belief in Free Market Ideology on Redressing Corporate Injustice

Peter Kardos, Bernhard Leidner, Laszlo Zsolnai, & Emanuele Castano 'The Effect of the Belief in Free Market Ideology on Redressing Corporate Injustice.' European Journal of Social Psychology, 2016

Many people in the major Western economies (e.g., United States, UK, and Germany) subscribe to free market ideology (FMI),which claims that institutional oversight of the market is unnecessary for public reaction can force corporations to regulate their own behavior. The question then becomes how people’s belief in FMI affects their reactions to corporate transgressions. Given its ingroup-centered values, we hypothesized that FMI beliefs would bias reactions to corporate transgressions. We report results of a pilot study showing that FMI beliefs are predicted by selfishness, tradition, conformity, and lack of universalism. We then report three experiments, which showed that stronger FMI beliefs predict weaker demands to redress corporate injustices committed by ingroup (but not outgroup) corporations (Studies 1–3), especially when victims of corporate wrongdoings belong to an outgroup (rather than the ingroup; Study 3). The findings inform our conceptual understanding of FMI and give insights about its implications for market justice.

Buddhism and Economic Development

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Buddhism and Economic Development.' , in Teaching Buddhism, eds. Todd Lewis, and Gary DeAngelis, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016.

Buddhist Economics is not the same as Economics of Buddhism. The former is a modern discourse that utilizes elements of Buddhist thought to construct an alternative model of the economy and the latter is a study of how Buddhists organize their econimic life in real-world social settings, past or present. Buddhist Economics is essentially a normative enterprise while Economics of Buddhism is a descriptive endeavor.

Moral Disengagement: How People Do Harm and Live with Themselves by Albert Bandura

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Moral Disengagement: How People Do Harm and Live with Themselves by Albert Bandura.' Business Ethics Quarterly, 2016

Bandura discovered a number of psycho-social mechanisms by which moral control can be selectively disengaged from detrimental conduct. These mechanisms of moral disengagement enable otherwise considerate people to commit transgressive acts without experiencing personal distress and guilt. People “fool themselves” in order to “fool others”. In his book Bandura extensively documents how moral disengagement mechanisms are at work in major spheres of life in the USA and beyond: gun manufacturers, the entertainment industry, tobacco companies, finance and banking, terrorism, climate science and more. The large body of evidence presented by Bandura has important implications for the naive belief that the market will provide sufficient incentives to encourage morally responsible conduct.

Questions and Themes in Ethics and Leadership

Madhumita Chatterji, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Questions and Themes in Ethics and Leadership.' , in Ethical Leadership. Indian and European Spiritual Approaches., eds. Madhumita Chatterji, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016.

The exchange of ideas between India and Europe about economics and politics dates back centuries. The most important figures in this regard include John Ruskin, Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore and M.K. Gandhi. However, the modern India-Europe dialogue on the spiritual and ethical basis of management and leadership started in the late 20th century. 

The authors firmly believe that, without deep spiritual reflection, business leaders will not be able to contribute to restoring the endangered ecosystems of the Earth, or to providing decent livelihoods for present and future generations. The good news is that there are vast resources of long-accumulated, Indian and European spiritual wealth and wisdom which are available for immediate use in this urgent task of transformation.

Responsible Leadership and Reasonable Action

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Responsible Leadership and Reasonable Action.' , in Ethical Leadership. Indian and European Spiritual Approaches , eds. Madhumita Chatterji, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016.

Responsible leadership is a scarce resource in business and public administration today. Trust in leaders worldwide is dramatically decreasing as they are not able to prove that they are serving the common good. Rather, they are perceived by the public to be pursuing their own selfish goals and those of their organizations. The mainstream leadership model of business and public organizations should be renewed to reestablish the trust of the public and to ensure these entities succeed in tandem with their stakeholders.

Lessons for the Future for India and Europe

Laszlo Zsolnai, & Madhumita Chatterji 'Lessons for the Future for India and Europe .' , in Ethical Leadership. Indian and European Spiritual Approaches, eds. Madhumita Chatterji, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016.

The authors are convinced that spirituality is not incompatible with rationality or real-world economic, social and environmental analysis. Ethical leaders can employ the best available scientific knowledge to execute their own spiritual-based plans and policies. India and Europe should embrace their own noble traditions and seek to cross-fertilize one another to foster a state of sustainability, peace and well-being. The key is to overcome the pre-existing dominantly materialistic value orientation of society and the ego-centeredness of individuals and thereby come closer to a state of transcendence and oneness. Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer have shown the way.