Prosperity, Poverty and the Purpose of Business
Rediscovering Integral Human Development
in the Catholic Social Tradition
THE 9TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
ON CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT AND BUSINESS EDUCATION
De La Salle University—College of St. Benilde
February 26-28, 2015
It has been said that the character of a people is found in the way that it treats its poor and marginalized. So what is the character of Catholic higher education? Pope Francis speaks of wanting “a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us” (Evangelii Gaudium, 198). What does this mean for Catholic colleges and universities and in particular their business programs? What kind of curriculum can serve to contribute to extending prosperity for greater numbers of people as well as creating meaningful workplaces that can mitigate the moral and spiritual poverty that can animate corporate life? What are the pressing research questions that have a significant impact on the material and spiritual poor of our world, especially as these relate to business? While the organizing committee is open to a wide variety of topics that address the title of the conference, it is particularly interested in contributions that address the following issues:
I. Utilizing the Vocation of the Business Leader (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace [PCJP], 2012) document, we encourage papers to address the relationship of poverty and prosperity with three basic goods of business:
1. Good Goods: addressing genuine human needs through the creation, development, and production of goods and services (PCPJ, 39ff);
a. What role do business disciplines play, especially marketing and entrepreneurship, in defining and fostering “good goods” in relation to the poor and marginalized? What logics operate in these disciplines that can foster bad goods?
b. In what ways do markets overlook the needs of the poor and how can businesses better serve the poor? How can businesses creatively serve the needs of the poor, especially but not only through social enterprises (fair trade, micro lending, organic, green and other types of social friendly products, social investments, etc.)? What are some of the possible unintended consequences of these social enterprises?
c. How do businesses concretely serve the so-called “bottom of the pyramid,” make supply chains more just, especially for the poor, mitigate environmental damage especially in relation to the poor, etc.?
2. Good Work: organizing good and productive work (PCJP, 44ff).
a. How do disciplines such as management, human resources, and operations foster an understanding of good work? What are some of the challenges within these disciplines that foster a vision of bad work? What are the implications of these disciplines for economic, moral and spiritual prosperity and poverty?
b. How do entrepreneurs and employers create enabling conditions for good work in subsistence environments where most workers are often forced to work in jobs they would not otherwise choose? How can companies provide just working conditions that meet the basic needs of employees and which also provide the conditions to help people develop and find meaning in their work? How can companies build the capabilities of their workers (skill, knowledge, etc.), contribute positively to the subjective dimension of work, and foster a culture of subsidiarity?
c. What happens when companies and leaders create bad work? What role should governments, unions, and NGOs play in mitigating the negative effects of business?
3. Good Wealth: using resources to create and to share wealth and prosperity in sustainable ways (PCJP, 51ff).
a. How do disciplines such as economics, accounting, finance, etc. define “good wealth” (as well as bad wealth) and what are the implications for such definitions for the poor? What logics operate in these disciplines that can foster bad wealth, and how do these logics contrast with the Catholic social tradition?
b. How is wealth created in an economy that is increasingly dominated by the financial sector? What impact does this have on wealth distribution, equity, and power structures in society? What is the relationship among financialization, structures of sin, poverty and prosperity?
c. What is the relationship between creation and distribution of wealth within business? What should socially minded shareholders keep in mind when considering the relationships among, stewardship of resources, healthy margins, access to capital and growth rates and just forms of distribution in relation to wages, profit sharing, ownership, prices, philanthropy, taxes, etc.? What cases illuminate these relationships, tensions and difficulties?
II. Theological and Philosophical inquiries into the Catholic social tradition as well as other religious and philosophical traditions addressing poverty, prosperity and business.
1. What role does culture and in particular religion play in forming and developing the social capital necessary for successful enterprises to take seriously the poor in their work?
2. What do we mean by prosperity and poverty within the Catholic social tradition (economic, moral, spiritual, blessed, etc.)? How does a logic of gift and reciprocity inform economic life, and what are the implications of this for the poor? What does it mean to have an “option for the poor”? What are the theological and moral principles that underlie a vision of business as it takes seriously the poor among us?
3. What happens when the poor are simply instruments of sophisticated marketing campaigns and parts of a larger utilitarian calculus when it comes to bottom of the pyramid programs, micro lending, etc.? What might a Thomistic and/or Aristotelian understanding of virtue bring to the discussion? How would this contrast with libertarian, utilitarian understandings of ethics?
III. Pedagogical/Institutional: While we hope all the papers will have pedagogical implications for higher education, we are also looking for explicit mission driven curricular materials, processes, models and ideas that examine poverty, prosperity and business.
1. What are some practical ways for faculty in business disciplines and the Humanities to engage the way business influences prosperity and poverty (case studies, teaching notes, syllabi, dialogues and joint-research with practitioners, public policy advocacy, etc.).
2. How can business schools better understand and take into account the formative influences shaping students’ views on poverty, prosperity and business such as the family, peer groups, the community, etc.?
3. What is the role of business schools and business education in influencing public policy towards enhancing the positive role of business in addressing poverty and sharing prosperity?
Papers that are accepted and presented at the conference will be open to a referee process for a special issue from Journal of Catholic Social Thought.
Conference Background Papers: Please refer to the posted conference background papers for this meeting - click here.
Proposal Format: The selection committee is looking for submissions that engage one of the two areas described above. Please send a two page single spaced proposal which includes the following: thesis/purpose, outline of paper as well as a one paragraph biography that includes institutional position and affiliation, recent publications, research interest, practical experience.
Send proposals by July 1, 2014
preferably electronically to:
Michael J. Naughton
John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought
University of St. Thomas,
2115 Summit Ave., 55S
St. Paul, MN 55105-1096 USA
Institutional Sponsors: Ateneo de Manila University (Manila); De La Salle University (Manila); De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (Philippines); Marquette University (WI); Saint John’s University (NY); University of St. Thomas (MN)
Committee: Raymond Anicete; Rodolfo Ang; Antonette Palma-Angeles; Jeanne Buckeye; Oscar Bulaong; Charles Clark; Divina Edralin; Raymund Habaradas; Andre Habisch; Gene Laczniak; Carmelita “Mela” Lazatin; Ismael “Jun” Maningas; Michael Naughton; Fr. George Nkeze; Aliza Racelis; Lysander Rivera; Nicky Santos, S.J.; Ben Teehankee.