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Friday, March 3, 2017

Strategic CSR - Michael Novak

The article in the url below is the obituary of Michael Novak. I was unaware of his work before reading about his recent death in both The New York Times (below) and Wall Street Journal. Here are a couple of quotes from the obituary summarizing his work:
"In The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982) he mounted a defense of capitalism as a morally superior system based on liberty, individual worth and Judeo-Christian principles. It was, he insisted, the only economic system capable of lifting the poor from misery and of encouraging moral growth. Samuel McCracken, in Commentary magazine, called the book 'a stunning achievement' and 'perhaps the first serious attempt to construct a theology of capitalism.'"
"Mr. Novak elaborated and extended this argument in several books, notably The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1993). It argued that capitalism's most powerful underlying forces were not self-denial and discipline, as Max Weber had maintained in his classic 1905 work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, but the 'social dimensions of the free economy' and the free play of creativity — both rooted, as Mr. Novak saw it, in Catholic ethics."
The idea that capitalism is a vehicle by which we channel our individual ethics and values is central to Strategic CSR, as is the idea that all aspects of operations include economic, moral, ethical, and values-based judgments. Economic exchange via markets encourages engaged stakeholders to prioritize certain actions over others—a form of accountability. Market forces are the means by which we convert scarce and valuable resources into the goods and services we want. Our 'desire' is reflected in our willingness to make meaningful choices among alternatives. It is in this sense that we get the companies we deserve when we (stakeholders) interact with them, just like we get the politicians we deserve when we vote. It is also in this sense that business is "a moral endeavor."
Have a good weekend
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Michael Novak, Catholic Social Philosopher, Dies at 83
By William Grimes
February 20, 2017
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final