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Humanism in Business

Humanism in Business

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Edited by Heiko Spitzeck, Michael Pirson, Wolfgang Amann, Shiban Khan, Ernst von Kimakowitz
Cambridge University Press, 26/02/2009
EAN 9780521727624, ISBN10: 0521727626

Hardcover, 270 pages, 22.6 x 15 x 2.2 cm

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.

"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." Edwin M. Epstein, Professor Emeritus, International and Area Studies and 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; 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