Ethical blog

Beyond Self

World renowned organizational scholar, James March of Stanford University once said that undermining the self-interest doctrine may be the most important project of the 21st century. Self-interest is at the heart of economics, politics and everyday life. People and organizations are encouraged to pursue their own self-interest without paying attention to the wider and longer term consequences of their choices and actions. However, the extreme focus on the self by economic actors leads to the destruction of both material and non-material… Read More »Beyond Self

Wasteland of what was creation

The last words of the last public lecture given by the great philosopher Hans Jonas were as follows: „It was once religion which told us that we all are sinners because of the original sin. It is now the ecology of the planet which pronounces us all to be sinners because of the excessive exploits of human inventiveness. It was once religion which threatened us with a last judgment at the end of days. It is now… Read More »Wasteland of what was creation

Future of Business Ethics

The recent economic and financial crisis shows that business ethics lost its credibility and relevance. It became evident that business ethics teaching did not change the general attitude of managers in mainstream business. Ethics and compliance programs were not able to prevent major banks and big corporations to enter into questionable practices and make dirty businesses all over the world. One explanation of the betrayal of business ethics is that our discipline did not question… Read More »Future of Business Ethics

Post-materialistic Business

Mainstream corporate business lost credibility and trust worldwide. Conventional legitimizing arguments for corporate business do not work anymore. Referring to efficiency or job creation is not enough for stakeholders who are angry with corporations destroying livelihoods, displacing people, and destructive of communities and nature. The basic assumptions of the corporate management model became questionable. The dominant model of today’s corporate business is based on a materialistic conception of man. Human beings are considered as creatures… Read More »Post-materialistic Business

Klee: Senecio

The painting by Paul Klee represents the angel of ethics for me. The title “Senecio” refers to the botanical name for a genus of plants that includes ragwort and other plants with round flower heads. One interpretation is that there is a parallel between the flower being the crowning glory of a plant and the human face being the flower of the human body. As this genuine and transparent face sees us,  we can feel… Read More »Klee: Senecio

Business Ethics is Mandatory in Europe

The European Commission approved a new European strategy on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on 25 October 2011. Compared to the previous EU definition of CSR as voluntary standards, it now describes “CSR as the responsibility of enterprises for their impacts on society” and as compulsory in respecting core standards “in particular the recently updated OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact, the ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility, the ILO Tri-partite Declaration of… Read More »Business Ethics is Mandatory in Europe

The Crisis of Materialistic Management

The Occupy Wall Street phenomenon clearly shows the crisis of the materialistic management paradigm. Materialistic management is based on the belief that the sole motivation of doing business is money-making and success should be measured by the generated profit only. Psychologists have discovered the serious side-effects of materialistic value orientation. In his book “The High Price of Materialism” Tim Kasser demonstrates that the more people prioritize materialistic goals, the lower their personal well-being and more likely they engage… Read More »The Crisis of Materialistic Management

Realizing the Nothing

I was active in fighting agains the Bős-Nagymaros Dam project in the 1980s and 1990s. The project aimed at constructing a huge, artificial system consisting of a canal and two dams for electricity production. It was not only highly destructive in environmental and cultural sense but also economically irrational because it required about USD 3 billion for the completion, but this investment would never recovered through the benefit of electricity production. Alternative Nobel-Prize winner and… Read More »Realizing the Nothing

The Problem of the Self in Economics and Business

As a student (and later as a professor) of economics and business I was not ready to accept the centrality of self-interest in motivating business actions and evaluating the performance of companies. I have never shared the belief of mainstream economists and businessmen about the benefitial effects of the “invisible hand” of the market. I always felt that something fundamentally wrong with the self-interest doctrine. Buddhism provided me with a revelational insight. Buddhism poses a… Read More »The Problem of the Self in Economics and Business

Buddhist Economics. What is it and why now?

Zoltán Valcsicsák who is volunteering in Bhutan made an interview with me on Budhist economics. When did you get introduced to Buddhist Economics? I studied economics in the late 1970s. I was not ready to accept the basic dogma of modern Western economics that self-interest behaviour serves the common good. I always felt that something is wrong with the “greed is good” position. Reading E.F. Schumacher’s essay on Buddhist economics was liberating for me. It demonstrated that an… Read More »Buddhist Economics. What is it and why now?