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Humanism in Business


Michael Pirson, Ernst von Kimakowitz, Heiko Spitzeck, Wolfgang Amann, Shiban Khan, Julian Nida-Rümelin, Matt Cherry, Greg Epstein, Claus Dierksmeier, Stephen B. Young, Omar Aktouf, W. David Holford, Domènec Melé, Peter Ulrich, Amartya Sen, Klaus M. Leisinger, Lynn Sharp Paine, Ulrich Steger, Allen L. White, Claudia Peus, Dieter Frey, Miguel Pereira Lopes, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Stephan Kaiser, Gordon Müller-Seitz, Oliver Salzmann, Aileen Ionescu-Somers, Oliver Rapf, Adrian Henriques, Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Thomas Maak, Nicola Pless, Joe Badaracco, William Drayton, Muhammad Yunus
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  • Date Published: February 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521727624


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About the Authors
  • What is the purpose of our economic system? What would a more life-serving economy look like? There are many books about business and society, yet very few of them question the primacy of GDP growth, profit maximization and individual utility maximization. Even developments with a humanistic touch like stakeholder participation, corporate social responsibility or corporate philanthropy serve the same goal: to foster long-term growth and profitability. Humanism in Business questions these assumptions and investigates the possibility of creating a human-centered, value-oriented society based on humanistic principles. An international team of academics and practitioners present philosophical, spiritual, economic, psychological and organizational arguments that show how humanism can be used to understand, and possibly transform, business at three different levels: the systems level, the organizational level and the individual level. This groundbreaking book will be of interest to academics, practitioners and policymakers concerned with business ethics and the relationship between business and society.

    • The first book to address the issue of humanism and business
    • Written by an international team of academics and practitioners, including two Nobel prize winners (Amartya Sen, Muhammad Yunus)
    • Lays out a common research agenda for future work on humanism and business
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In the last few decades business has become increasingly aware that shareholder value cannot be the only indicator for success. Sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR) concepts attempt to address negative trade-offs. But at the heart of the matter stands a humanistic attitude, an ethical stance towards all we do, be that in business or as private individuals.' Claude Martin, Ex Director General, WWF International

    'This book is a most crucial and insightful collection showing persuasively how humanism can be practiced creatively at the core centre of economic development policy agenda, not being a rhetorical flourish but the fundamental basis of economic prosperity and sustainability. Many contributors to this collection illuminate the role of business within society and its potential as a life-serving organ for positive social change. It offers an intriguing blueprint for how the world would be better with a more life-conducive economic system. A must-read for world policy leaders of the future.' Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, Member of Parliament, Thailand

    'This book offers a bold yet practical vision for leading business and shareholder capitalism into a more humane economic system. An impressive array of contributors embody this 'humanism' at work, showing how it can increase stakeholder trust, employee satisfaction and, above all, human dignity.' Alnoor Ebrahim, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School

    'The notion that 'humanism in business' is an oxymoron is nonsensical, discredited by both history and logic. Ultimately, business - the centralization and utilization of physical, financial resources, human energy and intellect within organizations great and small - has the societal function of providing the goods and services essential for human survival and well-being. How this function is fulfilled has varied greatly over time and place. An important factor in determining the 'how' are the values which underlie the society and are manifested in the operations of its business institutions and those who lead them. The editors and authors of this creative volume demonstrated convincingly that business activity in the twenty-first century is not and cannot be governed by mechanistic markets operating autonomously of broader societal values and expectation. It is our humanistic traditions developed over millennia from philosophical, religious and cultural sources that in the final analysis define the appropriate role of business in society. Congratulations to the editors of this volume for underscoring this point so convincingly.' Edwin M. Epstein, Professor Emeritus, International and Area Studies, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

    'An important book because it provides a comprehensive overview of alternatives to our current, harsh and highly imperfect economic system. The authors demonstrate that positive change towards a more humane economy is an urgent and very possible task.' Susan Davis, President and CEO, BRAC USA, Director of the Ashoka Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Founding Board Member of the Grameen Foundation

    'Values make a difference. For the most part, having a 'purpose beyond profit' has proven one of the best ways for a company to be profitable and socially valuable. Some of the earliest socially responsible businesses achieved this purpose beyond profit from the religious convictions of their founders. In this more secular age, there are many who will be interested in how such values translate into the pragmatic, success-oriented business environment of today. Those seeking a rigorously academic study from an avowedly humanistic perspective will find a wealth of food for thought in Humanism in Business.' Mallen Baker, CEO, Business Respect and Development Director for Business in the Community in the UK

    'Ensuring business success while minimizing negative social consequences is one of the main managerial challenges of our time. This book provides a valuable tool to understand and face this challenge from a practical as well as a theoretical view.' Peter Gomez, Chairman of the Board of the Swiss Stock Exchange

    'This book stresses the theme of humanism in business in terms of seeking the goal of sustainability, not only in terms of the earth's resources, but also in terms of relationships to all the contributors to the creation of wealth. The editors propose that the corporation needs to be conceived as a community of people who are committed not only to one another's sustainable well being, but beyond that to the further enrichment of one another's lives. Call it sustainability plus.' Paul Lawrence, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521727624
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.74kg
    • contains: 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of tables
    List of editors and contributors
    HUMANET: HUmanistic MAnagement Research NETwork: paving the way towards a life-serving economy
    Introduction Michael Pirson, Ernst von Kimakowitz, Heiko Spitzeck, Wolfgang Amann and Shiban Khan
    Part I. Philosophic-Historical Grounding of Humanism:
    1. Philosophical grounds of Humanism in economics Julian Nida-Rümelin
    2. The Humanist tradition Matt Cherry
    3. Humanism and culture: balancing particularity and universalism among the world's religions Greg Epstein
    4. A requisite journey: from business ethics to economic philosophy Claus Dierksmeier
    5. The global economy from a moral point of view Stephen B. Young
    6. The implications of Humanism for business studies Omar Aktouf and W. David Holford
    7. Current trends in Humanism and business Domènec Melé
    Part II. Towards an Integration of Humanism and Business on a Systems Level:
    8. Towards a civilized market economy: economic citizenship rights and responsibilities in service of a humane society Peter Ulrich
    9. Development as freedom - individual freedom as a social commitment Amartya Sen
    10. On corporate responsibility for human rights Klaus M. Leisinger
    11. The value shift: merging social and financial imperatives Lynn Sharp Paine
    12. The ugly side of capitalism: what the young generation needs to combat Ulrich Steger
    Part III. Humanistic Management:
    13. Democratizing the corporation Allen L. White
    14. Social entrepreneurship – a blueprint for humane organizations? Michael Pirson
    15. Humanism at work: crucial organizational cultures and leadership principles Claudia Peus and Dieter Frey
    16. Positive organizational scholarship: embodying a humanistic perspective of business Miguel Pereira Lopes, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Stephan Kaiser and Gordon Müller-Seitz
    17. Corporate sustainability as an indicator for more humanism in business? A view beyond the usual hype in Europe Oliver Salzmann, Aileen Ionescu-Somers and Ulrich Steger
    18. Changing direction - corporations as ambassadors of the environment? Oliver Rapf
    Part IV. The Individual as a Change Agent for a Humane Business Society:
    19. Ethical codes at work Adrian Henriques
    20. The daunting challenges of globalization and the power of individuals in cross-stakeholder networks for a humanistic face of globalization Jean-Pierre Lehmann
    21. The leader as responsible change agent: promoting Humanism in and beyond business Thomas Maak and Nicola Pless
    22. Quiet leadership - a way to sustainable positive change Joe Badaracco
    23. Everyone a changemaker: social entrepreneurship's ultimate goal William Drayton
    24. Social business entrepreneurs are the solution Muhammad Yunus
    25. Concluding observations Ernst von Kimakowitz, Michael Pirson, Heiko Spitzeck, Wolfgang Amann and Shiban Khan

  • Editors

    Heiko Spitzeck, Cranfield University, UK
    Wolfgang Amann is Executive Director of the MBA programme at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland.

    Michael Pirson, Harvard University, Massachusetts
    Shiban Khan is a senior researcher at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland.

    Wolfgang Amann, Universität St Gallen, Switzerland
    Michael Pirson is a research fellow at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard University, and a lecturer at the Harvard Extension School.

    Shiban Khan, Universität St Gallen, Switzerland
    Heiko Spitzeck is studying for a PhD at the Institute for Business Ethics at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

    Ernst von Kimakowitz, Universität St Gallen, Switzerland
    Ernst von Kimakowitz is studying for a PhD at the Institute for Business Ethics of the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.


    Michael Pirson, Ernst von Kimakowitz, Heiko Spitzeck, Wolfgang Amann, Shiban Khan, Julian Nida-Rümelin, Matt Cherry, Greg Epstein, Claus Dierksmeier, Stephen B. Young, Omar Aktouf, W. David Holford, Domènec Melé, Peter Ulrich, Amartya Sen, Klaus M. Leisinger, Lynn Sharp Paine, Ulrich Steger, Allen L. White, Claudia Peus, Dieter Frey, Miguel Pereira Lopes, Miguel Pina e Cunha, Stephan Kaiser, Gordon Müller-Seitz, Oliver Salzmann, Aileen Ionescu-Somers, Oliver Rapf, Adrian Henriques, Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Thomas Maak, Nicola Pless, Joe Badaracco, William Drayton, Muhammad Yunus

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