Why Buddhist Economics?

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Why Buddhist Economics?' , in Ethical Principles and Economic Transformation: A Buddhist Approach, ed. Laszlo Zsolnai, Spinger, 2011. (This book may be available at: Springer)

Buddhism and economics are seem to be far from one another. Many people think that Buddhism is an ascetic religion with no interest in worldly affairs. It is not true. Buddhism has a well developed social facet. Buddhists are often engaged in progressive social change. Buddhism poses a radical challenge for mainstream economics because denies the existence of the self. The Western way of life is centered on self-interest understood as satisfaction of the wishes of one’s body-mind ego. Buddhism challenges this view by a radically different conception, that is “anatta”, the “no-self”.

The Contributions of Buddhist Economics

Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Contributions of Buddhist Economics.' , in Ethical Principles and Economic Transformation: A Buddhist Approach, ed. Laszlo Zsolnai, Spinger, 2011. (This book may be available at: Spinger)

Buddhist economics can be seen as a radical alternative to the Western economic mindset. Western economics represents a maximizing framework. It wants to maximize profit, desires, market, instrumental use and self-interest, and tends to build a world where “bigger is better” and “more is more.”. Buddhist economics represents a minimizing framework where suffering, desires, violence, instrumental use and self-interest are minimized. This is why “small is beautiful” and “less is more” nicely express the essence of the Buddhist approach to economic questions.

Taking Spirituality Seriously

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Taking Spirituality Seriously.' , in Spirituality and Ethics in Management, ed. Laszlo Zsolnai, Springer, 2011. (This book may be available at: Sringer)

The paper summarizes the main findings of research in ethics and spirituality to stimulate the development of a new agenda for spirituality and management. One facet of the agenda concentrates on practice: how businesses (and other organizations such as  universities, government entities, not-for-profit health organizations and so on) should be transformed into more inclusive, holistic and peaceful activity systems serving nature, society and future generations.  The other facet of the agenda concerns research: how to integrate spiritual experiences into the management profession.

Redefining Economic Reason

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Redefining Economic Reason.' , in Spiritual Humanism and Economic Wisdom, eds. Hendrik Opdebeeck, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Garant, Antwerpen and Apeldoom, 2011.

The paper gives a critique of the profit principle and redefines economic rationality in a more holistic, substantive and humanistic form. It argues that despite of Martin Heidegger’s warning not modern technology but modern economizing destroys the Being. With its exclusive focus on profit-making modern economizing endangers the integrity and diversity of natural ecosystems, autonomy and culture of local communities, and chances of future generations for a decent life.

Respect for Future Generations

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Respect for Future Generations.' , in Respect and Economic Democracy, eds. Luk Bouckaert, and Paquale Arena, Grant, Antwerp/Appeldom, 2010. (This book may be available at: European SPES Forum)

Activities of present generations may affect the fate of future generations for the better or for the worse. What we do with our natural and cultural heritage mainly determines the way future generations may live their own life in the future. We as presently living human beings have an undeniable moral responsibility toward future human beings.The paper presents a methodology for assessing the impacts of present generations on the prospects of future generations.

The Collaborative Enterprise Framework

Antonio Tencati, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Collaborative Enterprise Framework.' , in The Collaborative Enterprise: Creating Values for a Sustainable World, eds. Antonio Tencati, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Peter Lang Academic Publishers, Oxford, 2010.

The paper aims to explore collaborative ways of doing business where enterprises seek to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with all stakeholders and want to produce sustainable values for their whole business ecosystems.  Based on the arguments developed by the Group of Lisbon, chaired by Riccardo Petrella, and the late London Business School professor Sumantra Ghoshal, we criticize the one-dimensional pursuit of competitiveness of contemporary business. We think that the exclusive focus on monetary results (especially short-term shareholder value) is detrimental for nature, society and future generations, and finally for business itself.  The strength and sustainability of enterprises come from their ability to fit into the environmental, social and cultural context in which they function. By creating values for all stakeholders, enterprises can involve them and gain deep support based on their commitment.

Community Supported Agriculture

Laszlo Zsolnai, & Laszlo Podmaniczky 'Community Supported Agriculture.' , in The Collaborative Enterprise: Creating Values for a Sustainable World, eds. Antonio Tencati, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Peter Lang Academic Publishers, Oxford, 2010.

The paper shows the overall failure of competitiveness-oriented modern agribusiness, which produces low quality food and generates detrimental effects on nature, human health, and society. Community-supported agriculture presents a major alternative to unsustainable modern agribusiness. Ecological sustainability and social integration require strict limitations on both the supply and demand sides of economic activities.

Beyond Competitiveness

Laszlo Zsolnai, & Antonio Tencati 'Beyond Competitiveness.' , in The Collaborative Enterprise: Creating Values for a Sustainable World, eds. Antonio Tencati, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Peter Lang Academic Publisher, Oxford, 2010.

The paper argues that economics is rightly called a "dismal science." It propagates a negativistic view of human nature. In this view economic agents are always self-interested and want to maximize their own profit or utility. Their interactions are based on competition only and their criterion of success is growth measured in money terms. Mainstream economics generates vicious circles in which market players expect the worst from others and act accordingly. Competitive economics produces an enormous abundance of goods and services but at an intolerable environmental and social cost.  If we want to get closer to a sustainable world we need to generate virtuous circles in economic life where good dispositions, good behavior and good expectations reinforce each other.

Environmental Ethics for Business Sustainability

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Environmental Ethics for Business Sustainability.' Corvinus University of Budapest "Társadalmi Megújulás Operatív Program" TÁMOP-4-2.1.B-09/1/KMR- 2010-0005

The paper derives operational principles from environmental ethics for business organizations in order to achieve sustainability. Business affects the natural environment at different levels. Individual biological creatures are affected by business via hunting, fishing, agriculture, animal testing, etc. Natural ecosystems are affected by business via mining, regulating rivers, building, polluting the air, water and land, etc. The Earth as a whole is affected by business via exterminating species, contributing to climate change, etc. Business has a natural, non-reciprocal responsibility toward natural beings affected by its functioning.

Self-realization in Business: Ibsen's Peer Gynt

Knut Ims, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Self-realization in Business: Ibsen's Peer Gynt.' , in Heroes and Anti-heroes. European Literature and the Ethics of Leadership, eds. Rita Ghesquiere, and Knut Ims, Garant, Antwerp-Apeldoom, 2010. (This book may be available at: European SPES Forum)

The paper takes Henrik Ibsen’s dramatic poem Peer Gynt as a point of departure to discuss what does self-realization in business mean from a moral point of view. Does it mean to realize one’s faculties in a virtue ethics sense, performing excellent actions? Or does it mean to use one’s faculties in order to gain power, prestige and money? Methodologically we will take excerpts from the poem and try to illustrate some of its implications for modern-day business leadership. We believe that this anti-romantic poem may give interesting clues that might illuminate important aspects about the human condition in general and in business in particular.