Doing Virtuous Business
The Remarkable Success of Spiritual Enterprise
Theodore Roosevelt Malloch
Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2008
169 pp; hbk.
The terms human capital and social capital are familiar to those involved in business and entrepreneurship. Less so is the term 'spiritual capital'. In Doing Virtuous Business Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, explores this slippery concept. Malloch is "Chairman and CEO of The Global Fiduciary Governance LLC, a leading strategy thought leadership company" and has done much research on the role of values in business.
The main thesis here that faith changes businesses by injecting 'spiritual capital'. This spiritual capital is also available to atheists and agnostics.
The problem with business is that profits and success (usually measured in monetary terms) have becomes the bottom line. This chasing after profit can become self-destructing. The remedy is to look for spiritual capital. As we become aware of and promote spiritual capital then success and profits follow. For Malloch spiritual capital is not just the spiritual hunger we all feel, rather it is "faith and all that stems from it" (p. 22) and "spiritual entrepreneurship is ... the unsung route to growth in the modern economy" (p. 44). He maintains that spiritual capital has an economic function and an economic potential in the same way that human and social capital have.
He examines the concept of virtue (Ch 2) and how it applies to business. The virtues of business are: faith, honesty, gratitude, perseverance, compassion, forgiveness, patience, humility, courage, respect, generosity, discipline, chastity and thrift. The most important component in spiritual entrepreneurship is faith. Faith, hope and charity are the subject of chapter 3. The virtues listed in chapter 2 are split into two kinds: hard (Ch 4)and soft (Ch 5). Hard virtue include leadership, courage, patience, perseverance and discipline; soft virtues are justice, forgiveness, compassion, humility and gratitude. No justification was given for this distinction.
The question of whose spirituality and which spirituality is not fully addressed, though Malloch is writing from an unashamedly Christian perspective. It also presupposes that capitalism and the free market is good - I would have liked to have seen a fuller critique of capitalism. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating read and shows that in contemporary society spirituality cannot be ignored.
There are plenty of inspiring short illustrative vignettes from companies such as ServiceMaster, Herman Miller, Carghill and individuals such as Tom Monaghan, Jonathan Ruffer, Quinlan Terry and J. Irvin Miller. All those involved in business will find much of value here.
Disclosure: This book was provide by the book sneeze programme - the views are my own.