Papers

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.

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.