Responsible Social Science in the Age of Economic Crisis

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Responsible Social Science in the Age of Economic Crisis.' Human Systems Management , 2014, vol.33, no. 1, pp. 1-5

The current economic crisis calls for a radical rethinking of the role of economics and other social sciences. It is a serious failure of social scientists when they solve the wrong problem precisely. This means that the problem formulation is inadequate, which may lead to disastrous consequences for the fate and well-being of the stakeholders. To avoid substantive failures in problem formulation social scientists should reconsider the basic assumptions of the system under study and include as many stakeholders’ views as possible. Appropriate solutions should address all the important dimensions of the problem in question (the scientific/technical, the interpersonal/social, the systemic/ecological, and the existential/spiritual), and create an optimal balance among them. Social scientists should also investigate their developed solutions from a deontological point of view (i.e.

The Importance of Meta-economics

Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Importance of Meta-economics.' , in Responsible Economics. E.F. Schumacher and His Legacy for the 21st Century, ed. Hendrik Opdebeeck, Peter Lang Academic Publishers, Oxford, 2013.

Meta-economics is the basic assumptions about the subject-matter, value-orientation and methodology of economics. The paper attempts to reconstruct the meta-economic foundation of mainstream economics and that of alternative economics initiated by Schumacher. It shows how the emerging alternative economics transcends the erroneous meta-economic assumptions of mainstream economics by considering the total economic process, choosing sustainable livelihood as basic value-orientation, and employing a constructive methodology.

Collaborative Enterprise and Sustainability: The Case of Slow Food

Antonio Tencati, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Collaborative Enterprise and Sustainability: The Case of Slow Food.' Journal of Business Ethics, 2012, vol.110, no. 3, pp. 345-354

The current and prevailing paradigm of intensive agricultural production is a straightforward example of the mainstream way of doing business. Mainstream enterprises are based on a negativistic view of human nature that leads to counter-productive and unsustainable behaviours producing negative impact for society and the natural environment. If we want to change the course, then different players are needed, which can flourish thanks to their capacity to serve others and creating values for all the participants in the network in which they are embedded. In the article, through the analysis of the Slow Food movement and the use of recent theoretical and empirical contributions in behavioural sciences and psychology, we support the collaborative enterprise model as an alternative to the still prevailing, mainstream business models.

Spirituality and Business: An Interdisciplinary Overview

Luk Bouckaert, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Spirituality and Business: An Interdisciplinary Overview.' Society and Economy, 2012, vol.34, no. 3, pp. 489-514

We believe that business ethics needs a more spiritual foundation to solve the business ethics failure. Why? Because spirituality – as an inner experience of deep interconnectedness with all living beings – opens a space of distance from the pressures of the market and the routines of business as usual. This distance is a necessary condition for developing innovative ethical ideas and practices. It restores intrinsic motivation and provides a long time horizon. Unfortunately spirituality is not yet a mainstream concept in academia and the business world. In academia and business, instrumental and utilitarian rationality is still the dominant perspective, whereas spirituality is anchored in a deeper, noninstrumental and nonutilitarian experience of life.

Redefining the Roles and Duties of Management

Laszlo Zsolnai, Sven Junghagen, and Antonio Tencati 'Redefining the Roles and Duties of Management.' Journal of Global Responsibility , 2012, vol.3, no. 1, pp. 121-133

The paper analyses the crisis of the business profession and the role that management education can play in renewing business management. It is argued that unless future managers demonstrate that they serve the common good in their daily practice, the legitimacy and moral standing of the business profession remain questionable. The paper presents the Masters in International Management Program of CEMS – Global Alliance in Management Education as a pioneering example of developing reflective and responsible managers. The future manager is defined as a reflexive practitioner who is committed to
environmental sustainability, exercises social responsibility, works with sensitivity toward gender and diversity issues, harmonizes information and communications technologies with processes and organizational culture, applies holistic perspective in problem solving, cooperates with social and political actors, and is engaged in progressive entrepreneurship.

Environmental Ethics for Business Sustainability

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Environmental Ethics for Business Sustainability.' International Journal of Social Economics, 2011, vol.38, no. 11, pp. 892-899

The purpose of this paper is to derive operational principles from environmental ethics for business organizations to achieve sustainability. The paper analyses different levels on which business affects the natural environment. It argues that business has a natural, non-reciprocal responsibility toward natural beings affected by its functioning. The paper uses principles of environmental ethics to redefine business sustainability in an ethically meaningful way.

Spirituality and Business

Luk Bouckaert, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Spirituality and Business.' , in The Palgrave Handbook of Spirituality and Business, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, London, 2011.

The paper summarizes the long path from business ethics to business spirituality. Analyzing the contrast between a materialistic and a non materialistic drive in economics, the authors define the new values of the post-capitalist economy: frugality, deep ecology, trust, reciprocity, responsibility for future generations, and authenticity. Within this values-driven economy, profit and growth are no longer ultimate aims but elements in a wider set of values. In a similar way cost-benefit calculations are no longer the essence of good management but are part of a broader concept of wisdom in leadership.

Moral Agency and Spiritual Intelligence

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Moral Agency and Spiritual Intelligence.' , in The Palgrave Handbook of Spirituality and Business, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, London, 2011.

The paper argues that the self of decision-makers plays an important role in determining the ethicality of their decisions. Decisions might be understood as self-expressions of the decision-makers. Spiritual experiences have a vital role in developing the self of managers and therefore in improving the ethicality of their decisions.

Buddhist Economics

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Buddhist Economics.' , in The Palgrave Handbook of Spirituality and Business, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, London, 2011.
The paper presents Buddhist economics as a major alternative to the Western economic mindset. It challenges the basic principles of modern Western economics, namely profit-maximization, cultivating desires, introducing markets, instrumental use of the world, and self-interest-based ethics. Buddhist economics proposes alternative principles such as minimizing suffering, simplifying desires, non-violence, genuine care, and generosity. Buddhist economics is not a system but a strategy, which can be applied in any economic setting.

Responsibility for Future Generations

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Responsibility for Future Generations.' , in The Palgrave Handbook of Spirituality and Business, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave-Macmillan, London, 2011.

The paper uses the argument by Hans Jonas that the ethics of responsibility involves not only the existence of future human beings but also the way they exist. The conditions of the existence of future generations should not cause their capacity of freedom and humanness to disappear. In the model developed by the author the state of ecological capital, financial capital, human capital and intellectual capital together determine the fate of future generations. Better the states of these capitals, better the prospects of future generations and vice versa.