Ethics, Competitiveness and the Sustainability of Companies

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Ethics, Competitiveness and the Sustainability of Companies.' Journal of Creativity and Innovation, 2010, vol.3, no. 1, pp. 15-32

The paper addresses the problem of the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and competitiveness of companies. It argues that an exclusive focus on competitiveness is self-defeating. It also shows that the opportunistic use of CSR might be counter-productive. Evidences are presented that ethical behavior can survive in highly competitive markets, which provides new meaning of competitiveness. The paper describes how a number of progressive, socially responsible firms have prospered in competitive environments by forming commitments among owners, managers and employees and by establishing trust relationships with customers and subcontractors. Durable and mutually beneficial of relationships with all the stakeholders are the key of the sustainability of companies.

Ethics needs spirituality

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Ethics needs spirituality.' , in Spirituality and Business. Exploring Possibilities for a New Management Paradigm , eds. Sharda S. Nandram, and Margot Esther Borden, Springer, Heidelberg, Dordrect, London, New York, 2010. (This book may be available at: Springer)

The article argues that ethics needs spirituality as an underlying background and as a major motivational force.  Ethical initiatives in business fail if they are not based on genuine ethical commitments. Serving the well-being of communities, nature and future generations requires authentic care, which may develop from experiential one-ness with others and with the universal source of creation.

Business as a Profession

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Business as a Profession.' , in The Future International Manager: A Vision of the Roles and Duties of Management , eds. Laszlo Zsolnai, and Antonio Tencati, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. (This book may be available at: Amazon)

The irresponsible and insensitive behavior of business leaders worldwide shows that business is an underprofessionalized occupation today. Occupations are defined as professions to the degree to which they serve society. Unless managers demonstrate that they serve the common good  in their daily practice, the legitimacy and moral standing of the business profession remain questionable.

Engaging in Progressive Enterpreneurship

Antonio Tencati, Francesco Perrini, Nel Hofstra, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Engaging in Progressive Enterpreneurship.' , in The Future International Manager: A Vision of the Roles and Duties of Management, eds. Laszlo Zsolnai, and Antonio Tencati, Palgrave, 2009. (This book may be available at: Amazon)

Shareholder value maximization and competitiveness are at the core of today’s business and economic policy. Companies seek to improve their productivity and try to gain competitive advantage. But these efforts often produce negative effects on various stakeholders at home and abroad. Competitiveness in most cases produces monetary results for the shareholders at the expense of other stakeholders.

Holistic Problem Solving

Knut J. Ims, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Holistic Problem Solving.' , in The Future International Manager: A Vision of the Roles and Duties of Management, eds. Laszlo Zsolnai, and Antonio Tencati, Palgrave, 2009. (This book may be available at: Amazon)

Today’s management practice tends to reduce every problem to the technical dimension. This often results in the “Error of the Third Kind” (E3), which means solving the wrong problem precisely. Managers need scientific and technical knowledge, but they also need a better understanding of the existential conditions of human beings to avoid the fallacy of defining most problems narrowly and solving them in purely technical ways. 

It is essential that organizations broaden the set of relevant stakeholders, giving particular attention to the impact on future generations and the environment. In the same vein, the organization has to be conscious of the wise strategy of looking upon important problems as having at least four dimensions. We believe that actual, mundane behavior constitutes a rational platform for using helpful tools and hinting on improvements.

The Collaborative Enterprise

Antonio Tencati, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'The Collaborative Enterprise.' Journal of Business Ethics, 2009, vol.85, no. 3, pp. 367-376

Instead of the currently prevailing competitive model, a more collaborative strategy is needed to address the concerns related to the unsustainability of today’s business. This article aims to explore collaborative approaches where enterprises seek to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with all stakeholders and want to produce sustainable values for their whole business ecosystem. Cases here analyzed demonstrate that alternative ways of doing business are possible.

Nature, Society and Future Generations

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Nature, Society and Future Generations.' , in Business, Globalization and the Common Good, eds. Henri-Claude de Bettignies, and Francois Lépinueux, Peter Lang, Oxford - Bern - Berlin- Bruxelles - Frankfurt am Main - New York - Wien, 2009. (This book may be available at: Amazon)

Today's business has a major impact on society and the natural environment. It considerably affects the fate and survival of natural ecosystems and the life conditions of present and future generations. Applying the imperative of responsibility developed by Hans Jonas, we can say that business has a one way, non-reciprocal duty: to care for the beings which are under the impacts of its functioning.

Buddhist Economics for Business

Laszlo Zsolnai 'Buddhist Economics for Business.' , in Ethical Prospects, eds. Laszlo Zsolnai, Zsolt Boda, and Laszlo Fekete, Springer, 2009. (This book may be available at: Amazon)

The paper explores Buddhist economics for transforming business toward a more ecological and human form. Buddhist economics is centered on want negation and purification of the human character. It challenges the basic principles of Western economics, (i) profit-maximization, (ii) cultivating desires, (iii) introducing markets, (iv) instrumental use of the world, and (v) self-interest based ethics. Buddhist economics proposes alternative principles such as (I) minimize suffering, (II) simplifying desires, (III) non-violence, (IV) genuine care, and (V) generosity.

Why Frugality?

Luk Bouckaert, Hendrik Opdebeeck, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Why Frugality?' , in Frugality: Rebalancing Material and Spiritual Values in Economic Life, eds. Luk Bouckaert, Herndrick Opdebeeck, and Laszlo Zsolnai, Peter Lang, Oxford, 2008. (This book may be available at: Amazon)

The present unsustainable lifestyle of mankind requires drastic changes. Western-style consumer capitalism has failed. It has resulted in global climate change, dramatic ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. Also, it has caused massive unhappiness and emptiness in rich countries and social disintegration worldwide. The interests of nature, society and future generations require a considerable reduction of material throughput of the economy and a reorientation of our economic activities. This could become possible by employing a more spiritual approach to life and the economy.The rational case for frugality is a limited one.

Responsible Business Conduct: Establishing Harmony among Ethical, Business and Societal Values

Laszlo Fekete, & Laszlo Zsolnai 'Responsible Business Conduct: Establishing Harmony among Ethical, Business and Societal Values.' , in Freedom and Responsibilities in China: Governments, Corporations, and Civil Cociety Organizations, ed. G.J. Rossouw, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai, 2008.

The recent years the fast growing Chinese economy produced serious imbalances between the urban and the rural populations, as well as between society and nature. Achieving a socially and ecologically balanced economic development path is badly needed in the China. 

The paper presents an operationalised model for responsible business conduct. The starting point is Kenneth E. Goodpaster's conception of moral responsibility. In the proposed model decision alternatives are simultaneously evaluated from different value perspectives. Responsible business conduct is defined as finding the least worst alternative in the multidimensional decision space of deontological, goal-achievement, and stakeholder values. In this way harmony among ethical values, business values and societal values can be established.