Papers

Ethics Education of Business Leaders. Emotional Intelligence, Virtues, and Contemplative Learning

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Ethics Education of Business Leaders. Emotional Intelligence, Virtues, and Contemplative Learning.' Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion, 2016

How can business schools educate future business leaders to make ethical decisions? This is really a challenge as business schools focus on one-dimensional rationality and cognitive intelligence. They teach the “Homo oeconomicus” model and related
theories (agency theory, profit, or shareholder maximization) which promote individual, selfinterested behavior. Not unsurprisingly business schools produce graduates who are more selfish and morally disengaged than non-business graduates (Grant 2013). Today, there is a strong imbalance in business education between teaching abstract, rational concepts, and providing opportunities for personal, moral growth.

Art-based Business

Laszlo Zsolnai, & Doirean Wilson 'Art-based Business.' Journal of Cleaner Production, 2016, vol. 135, pp. 1534-1538

The paper argues that with its exclusive focus on profit-making, modern-day businesses tend to violate the integrity and diversity of natural ecosystems, the autonomy and culture of local communities and the chance that future generations will lead a decent life. The core of the metaphysics of modern-day business is what Martin Heidegger calls “calculative thinking”. It is contrasted with poetic thinking represented by genuine art.

To preserve nature and to satisfy human needs, gentle, careful ways of undertaking economic activities are needed. The paper analyses the cases of Illy Café and Brunello Cucinelli as art-based companies to show that art can inspire business to become more aesthetic organization engaged in socio-ecological value creation and the enrichment of  the quality of life.

The Failure of Business Ethics

Zsolt Boda, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Failure of Business Ethics.' Society and Business Review, 2016, vol.11, no. 1, pp. 93-104

This paper investigates the systemic causes of the failure of business ethics (BE) and suggest some possible remedies. The discipline and the movement of BE has at least three decades of history. BE has developed concepts and theories, and provided empirical evidences. However, BE as a movement and as a practice has failed to deliver the expected results. The paper uses results from management ethics, moral psychology and corporate governance to analyze the underlying causes of corporate unethical behavior. It is argued that the failure of BE is deeply rooted in today’s corporation-ruled business world. BE has failed to realize systemic features of modern business and therefore missed its target. The social, ethical and environmental problems caused by corporations may require a different kind of treatment based on law, politics and social institutions. The paper uses models outside ethics to help business organizations to become more ethical in their functioning.

Social Innovation and Social Development in Latin America, Egypt and India

Knut J. Ims, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Social Innovation and Social Development in Latin America, Egypt and India.' , in Ethical Innovation in Business and the Economy, eds. Georges Enderle, and Patrick E. Murphy, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, 2015. (This book may be available at: Edward Elgar)

Exemplary cases of social innovation do not involve profit as the primary goal but emphasize social, spiritual and humanitarian goals such as minimizing suffering and empowering people and communities. The business models of the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) approach receive worldwide recognition today. BoP means developing innovative businesses to serve the largest, but poorest socio-economic group in the world. In global terms, about four billion people live on less than USD 2.50 per day. However, we can predict that the success of BoP businesses will finally be limited because they do not transcend the logic of mainstream, materialistic business. The paper analyses the cases of the Economy of Communion in Latin America and Europe, SEKEM in Egypt and Aravind Eye Care System in India as alternative social innovation models, which show that an ethos for serving the common good appears to be a precondition of successful social innovation.

Product as process — Commodities in mechanic and organic ontology

Knut J. Ims, Ove Jakobsen, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Product as process — Commodities in mechanic and organic ontology.' Ecological Economics, 2015, vol. 110, pp. 11-14

This article explores and interprets the product concept in two different ontologies: mechanistic and organic. A required shift in the ontology for understanding commodities has crucial implications for economic theory and practice. In mainstream economics the product is understood in terms of  mechanistic ontology: as a fixed and atomized commodity, to be exhibited in the shelves of a  supermarket. In the organic ontology of ecological economics the product is part of a dynamic network of relations involving  the fields of economy, ecology and society. We argue that it is necessary to move  beyond the product concept of mainstream economics in order to realize that economic actors share responsibility  for the societal and environmental impact of what is produced, how the commodities are produced and (re)distributed, how profit is shared between the actors in the production, and the (re)distribution network, and that “waste” is recycled as a resource. We use the social labels “Fair trade” and “Rugmark” to illustrate the product as a process.

Materialistic versus Non-materialistic Value-orientation in Management

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Materialistic versus Non-materialistic Value-orientation in Management.' , in Business and the Greater Good. Rethinking Business Ethics in an Age of Crisis, eds. Knut J. Ims, and Lars Jacob Tynes Pedersen, Edward Elgar, Cheltelham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA, 2015. (This book may be available at: Edward Elgar)

The Occupy Wall Street and other anti-globalization movement show a drastic loss of confidence in business. Mainstream business lost credibility and trust worldwide. The basic assumptions of business management became questionable. The management model of today's dominant business is based on an exclusive materialistic conception of man. Human beings are reduced to materialistic, pleasure-seeking creatures. Homo Oeconomicus is an individual, self-interest maximizing being. He or she is only interested in material utility defined in monetary terms. The materialistic management model uses money-driven extrinsic motivation and measures success only in generated cash-flow. In a post-materialistic economy profit and growth are not final ends any more but only elements of a broader set of material and non-material goals.

The Role of Spirituality in Business Education

Katalin Illes, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Role of Spirituality in Business Education.' Society and Business Review, 2015, vol.10, no. 1, pp. 67-75

The paper argues that there is a strong imbalance in business education between providing abstract, rational concepts and opportunities for personal growth. Introducing spirituality in business education seems to be desirable if we want to prepare students for the complexities and challenges of the workplace today. The authors give an example of how techniques from voice and drama therapy can be used for enabling students to look beyond the rational and the material. By engaging with their “true self”, students may discover dormant qualities in themselves and start to find their purpose, meaning and spirituality. The paper shows that by introducing some new approaches in business education, we can provide opportunities for students to connect their rational thoughts with conscience and the “true self”. When students make an integrated use of our mental, emotional and spiritual resources, they are better equipped to make complex decisions and behave ethically in the workplace
and in their personal lives.

Emprendedorismo guiado por la espiritualidad (Spiritually Driven Entrepreneurship)

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Emprendedorismo guiado por la espiritualidad (Spiritually Driven Entrepreneurship) .' Revista Cultura Económica , 2014, vol.32, no. 88, pp. 25-46

The paper presents cases of spiritually driven entrepreneurship from the USA, Europe and India and discusses the changes required for business organizations to become ecologically sustainable, future respecting and pro-social entities.

How Economic Incentives Destroy Social, Ecological and Existential Values: The Case of Executive Compensation

Knut J. Ims, Lars Jacob Tynen Pedersen, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'How Economic Incentives Destroy Social, Ecological and Existential Values: The Case of Executive Compensation.' Journal of Business Ethics , 2014, vol.123, no. 2, pp. 353-360

Executive compensation has long been a prominent topic in the management literature. A main question that is also given substantial attention in the business ethics literature – even more so in the wake of the recent financial crisis – is whether increasing levels of executive compensation can be justified from an ethical point of view. Also, the relationship of executive compensation to instances of unethical behavior or outcomes has received considerable attention. The purpose of this paper is to explore the social, ecological and existential costs of economic incentives, by discussing how relying on increasing levels of executive compensation may have an adverse effect on managerial performance in a broad sense.

Ethics of Social Innovation

Knut J. Ims, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Ethics of Social Innovation.' Society and Business Review , 2014, vol.9, no. 2, pp. 186-194

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the main reasons for social innovations to be successful in developing countries.Four famous cases of social innovation are studied and contrasted in the following dimensions: goals, means and skills/resources needed by the user. The authors argue that exemplary social innovations do not have profit as their primary objective but emphasize social, spiritual and humanitarian goals such as minimizing suffering, empowering people and strengthening local communities.The paper shows that sensitivity to local culture and an ethos for serving the common good are preconditions of successful and lasting social innovations by business.