Cornuel, E., Malloch, T., Kakabadse, A. and Lenssen, G. (2014), "Practical wisdom in management from the religious and philosophical traditions", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 33 No. 8/9. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-09-2014-0107Download as .RIS
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Practical wisdom in management from the religious and philosophical traditions
Article Type: Series editorial From: Journal of Management Development, Volume 33, Issue 8/9
Practical wisdom and traditions
The debate on the causes of the financial crisis has focused on global imbalances, market failures and governance failures. It concludes that the “wisdom” of the markets and the rational choices of market actors can no longer be trusted. As a result, more regulation and better incentives are recommended. According to this analysis, the financial-economic system needs better “hardwiring”.
But what about the “softwiring” of the system? What about the quality of judgement, responsibility and stewardship? In management education we need to ask ourselves: what is wise decision-making, what is wise leadership and how do we bring wisdom back into management education? The pursuit of superior knowledge without the pursuit of practical wisdom is incomplete and can cause much damage. We seem to have lost something in our institutions and culture of high modernity.
In this series of special issues we want to explore the value of practical wisdom in management from the religious and philosophical traditions and thereby reconnect with lost treasures.
With the progress of industrialisation and modernity, only reason and knowledge are hailed as the guarantees for human advancement. Ongoing secularisation has led to traditions being considered as seats of backwardness. Aggressive atheism and populist anti-Islam feelings have portrayed all religions as either plain ignorance of scientific progress or even dangerous regressions into intolerance. In the modernist view, all traditions, religious and non-religious, belong in the dustbin of history.
What is lost is the wealth of practical wisdom in these traditions through the proverbs, analects, suras, tales and parables in their writings and readings, reinforced by their oral traditions on how to lead a good life, to act wisely and responsibly, and to pursue both self-fulfilment and the common good. They unveil how we shape the world by the spirit we project on it. From this perspective, the traditions offer a wealth of insights for wise management and inspiring leadership. They provide the spiritual capital for practical wisdom.
The project of rational enlightenment can be considered incomplete and modernity rudderless without a re-connection to the practical wisdom from the religious, spiritual and philosophical traditions.
Globalisation and ethics
Globalisation and the global market economy need an ethical framing and a moral compass to be viable, sustainable and equitable. The emergence of a world ethic has been called for to make this happen. But projects on secular world ethics are encountering difficulties because they are often disconnected from the deep-rooted spiritual and philosophical traditions and their cultural context. Such secular projects do not start from these roots and therefore are at risk of remaining superficial and ultimately meaningless.
The extreme secularist viewpoint holds that these traditions are connected to dogmatic religions and this renders them divisive, irreconcilable and thus unfit for contributing to such a world ethic. But it is precisely practical wisdom as derived from these traditions which serves as a platform for discovering the common ground between the traditions. It makes the traditions speak to each other in a global society and a global economy. But it starts with an intimate discovery of the traditions in their cultural context.
The Practical Wisdom project embraces modernity (critically), views business and management as forces for the common good, and holds firmly to the belief that commerce and free trade make essential contributions to global peace and stability. It seeks to construct a bridge between the worlds of management and the spiritual and philosophical traditions on a basis of mutual appreciation instead of mutual suspicion.
The main activities of this project where a series of conferences that brought together professionals, academics, managers and business practitioners to explore the practical wisdom for management from different spiritual and religious traditions and the corresponding special issues of the Journal of Management Development including a selection of the contributions presented during the conferences:
“The Business of Practical Wisdom: An exploration of virtue and business within the Catholic Social Tradition” at Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (Germany) co-organized by the University of St Thomas (USA) in September 2009. The Journal of Management Development published a Special Issue on “Practical wisdom for management from the Christian tradition” was published in 2010 (Naughton et al., 2010).
“Practical wisdom for management from the Chinese classical traditions” at CEIBS International Business School in Shanghai (China) in June 2010. A Special Issue of the Journal of Management Development was published in 2011 (de Bettignies et al., 2011).
“Practical wisdom for management from the Jewish tradition” at the Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel) in July 2011. A Special Issue of the Journal of Management Development was published in 2011 (Kletz et al., 2012).
“Practical wisdom for management from the Islamic tradition” at the School of Business Administration of the Al Akhawayn University (Morocco) in November 2011. A Special Issue of the Journal of Management Development was published in 2011 (Garah et al., 2012).
“Practical wisdom for management from the Indian traditions” at the Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode in Kerala (India) in January 2012. A Special Issue of the Journal of Management Development is published in this issue (Sirodom et al., 2014).
“Practical Wisdom for management and economics from the Buddhist spiritual and religious traditions” at Thammasat Business School in Bangkok (Thailand) in November 2012. A Special Issue of the Journal of Management Development is published in this issue (Sirodom et al., 2014).
“Practical wisdom for management from the Japanese spiritual and philosophical traditions” at the Faculty of Business Administration of Soka University (Tokyo) in May 2013. A Special Issue of the Journal of Management Development is in preparation.
“Practical wisdom for management” at Yale University (USA) in July 2013 brought together all traditions finishing the first phase of this project.
Professor Gilbert Lenssen, ABIS - The Academy of Business in Society, Brussels, Belgium
Professor Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, Spiritual Capital Initiative, Yale University, New Heaven, Connecticut, USA and Wolfson College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Dr Eric Cornuel, EFMD - European Foundation of Management Development and HEC, Paris, France
Professor Andrew Kakabadse, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, UK and ABIS - The Academy of Business in Society, Brussels, Belgium
de Bettignies, H.-C., Ip, P.K., Bai, X., Habisch, A. and Lenssen, G. (2011), “Practical wisdom for management from the Chinese classical traditions”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 30 Nos 7/8, pp. 623-628
Garah, E.W., Beekun, R.I., Habisch, A., Lenssen, G. and Loza Adaui, C.R. (2012), “Practical wisdom for management from the Islamic tradition”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 31 No. 10, pp. 991-1000
Kletz, P., Almog-Bareket, G., Habisch, A., Lenssen, G. and Loza Adaui, C.R. (2012), “Practical wisdom for management from the Jewish tradition”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 31 No. 9, pp. 879-885
Naughton, M.J., Habisch, A. and Lenssen, G. (2010), “Practical wisdom in management from the Christian tradition”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 29 Nos 7/8, pp. 616-625
Sirodom, K., Loza Adaui, C.R., Habisch, A., Lenssen, G. and Malloch, T.R. (2014), “Practical wisdom for management from the Buddhist and Indian traditions”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 33 Nos 8/9, pp. 729-737