Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What Makes a Virtuous Enterprise?

This month's Kyeong-Hyang Magazine continues with a series of articles on economics. The writer, a priest from the Andong Diocese, presents a concept of doing business he calls the "virtuous enterprise." He begins with a statement from a past president of Korea: "It seems that the authority of the government has gone over to the market." This bitter confession has prompted many to want this authority reclaimed by government.

The big enterprises in Korea needed the government's help in the beginning, but they have grown to a point where they have thrown off regulations and government control and follow only the dictates of the market. The influence of business has expanded beyond the world of finances into politics, society and culture, and continues to grow.

The writer imagines what the future would look like if companies become socially responsible--become "virtuous enterprises." They would not be interested in making more money, as if that is their only responsibility to society.

Although it is awkward to talk about the success of these companies, it seems they are having success. The buying public has a preference for these companies and will look for their products. People of talent are even ready to sacrifice pay to work for them.

A professor from an American University was quoted as saying that companies of this type are able to internalize the motivation of workers. Their workers feel proud to be part of such companies and will work zealously to make them successful.

As an aid in achieving this goal, there is a Christian equity index, which includes companies that are considered ethical and are recommended for investment. In Europe, there are 533 companies whose revenues come from approved sources. Groups that make money from pornography, weapons, tobacco, birth control and gambling are excluded.

The goal of socially responsible companies may be a dream of the writer and of most of us, but it is an ideal that is actually finding many who want to partake in this new way of doing business.