Saints and CEOs: an historical experience of altruism, self‐interest and compromise

Abstract

At a time when social and ethical responsibilities of companies and CEOs are being increasingly emphasised, this paper examines conduct of social business in a different age and culture to discern features of enduring relevance for ethical business practices today.The personal correspondence of three fourth‐century saints gives insights into their relationships and decision‐making.Community expectations were those of sharing rather than of outright giving, with ‘fusion of interest’ prevailing over concerns for ‘con?ict of interest’. Selected incidents show two entrepreneurial bishops, Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, struggling to balance tensions between ’liberality’ and ‘fairness’.They compromised, competed robustly for revenues and were vexed over limited budgets and resources for projects while their disapproving cousin, the academic Gregory of Nazianzus, criticised their worldliness. Their historical experiences suggest four pragmatic and possibly normative ways of blending altruism and self‐interest for the overall advancement of bene?cial change.

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References found in this work

Thirty Years of Social Accounting, Reporting and Auditing: What (If Anything) Have We Learnt?Rob Gray - 2001 - Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 10 (1):9–15.
Trust, Reputation and Corporate Accountability to Stakeholders.Tracey Swift - 2001 - Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 10 (1):16–26.
Thirty Years of Social Accounting, Reporting and Auditing: What Have We Learnt?Rob Gray - 2001 - Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 10 (1):9-15.
Trust, Reputation and Corporate Accountability to Stakeholders.Tracey Swift - 2001 - Business Ethics: A European Review 10 (1):16-26.

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