Jean-François Orsini, T.O.P., Ph.D.
What they taught me at the Wharton School of business and what they left out but fortunately I learned from the Church and the business world

Executive Summary

This book comes directly in the wake of "Centesimus Annus" from which it draws its authority as well as to which it provides a new set of justifications. It applies the wisdom and the teachings of the Church, especially of "Laborem Exercens" to the condition and responsibilities of humble workers—either white or blue-collar—as well as to those of managers. A solid background in management theory (the Wharton school is the third business school in the US) as well as a sound Thomistic formation (the author is a third order Dominican who filled the position of novice master of his chapter) will be found in the pages of what should become a "classic".

Business school students, executives as well as any person affected by the modern trend which places economic values in the forefront of all cultural values of today are the first intended readers of this book. These people are—or should be—asking themselves the question: "is there a place in God's plan for business ?" They need to know how it is possible to be in business and still follow all of God's commands. The book's answers are in the forefront of a new type of work of evangelization for the post-Christian culture. Others who know that Christ is the Truth have also the intuition that since in the teachings of the Church there is a multitude of very precious insights one might wonder whether some special insights are also to be gained which can help one to succeed in the art and science of management. The book is responding by the affirmative to this question and takes exceptional care to thoroughly satisfy this legitimate and constructive interest. Thus the book helps in the development of an economically affluent Christian society.

The work of a manager is similar to any type of work. A theology of work is first introduced which is related to the basic philosophical question concerning the destiny of man, as expressed by the methods of St. Thomas Aquinas. The most important element of work: it is applying one's skills and talents to a situation and to a given set of tools so that the worker increases in virtues and holiness. By the worker applying his talents and skills virtuously, the work is completed and the worker also is "accomplished" according to his destiny and as he gains merits towards his ultimate reward of life eternal. The cardinal virtues are then closely examined. The purpose is to show what each of these virtues means and how it is to be applied in work settings for business organizations and business employees. The following parts of the book are structured to duplicate a complete text-book of management from the perspective of the teachings of the Church. All major topics of the discipline are examined. For each of these topics the importance of various virtues is brought out. It is shown how these virtues better explain the business function studied than do the social-science-based teachings provided by the secular business schools (an alas most Catholic business schools). It is also shown how an understanding of the importance of the virtues and the striving to grow in the virtues can better help the manager responsible for a business function to do a better job at it. The virtue of courage, for example, explains laziness whereas business academics as still groping for the concept of "effort" applied to work.

One large section of the book examines the notion of business and of business organizations, the sociology of organizations from a Christian perspective. First. the nature of business and that of organizations are examined. The social role of organizations is immediately studied after these economic definitions have been clarified. Strategic planning is reviewed in order to shape an organization intelligently in view of its future function. Organization design, Controls are then set in place. The staff function is examined immediately to ensure a smooth coordination with the rest of the organization.

The next section examines individuals at work, the psychology of organizations from a Christian perspective. First the concept of authority is reviewed. Then psychological differences among workers and particularly perceptual differences are addressed. Motivation, the heart of this section, is shown to depend on love and particularly on true Christian love. Conflict resolutions and selection and appraisal of personnel are difficult issues of personnel management which are specifically studied. The next section looks at the issues relative of individual workers, the collective and the individual working dynamically together and from a Christian perspective. A theory of systems of values is first presented which helps show the meshing of individual values and corporate values. The concept of Change, of Organizational Growth and of Innovative Management are studied in their essentials.

Leadership and entrepreneurship are given as the last gems to be placed on top of the crown of virtues that any aspiring great manager should seek. The conclusion includes a reflection on the consequences of the virtues in the economy. Indeed it is demonstrated throughout the book that the more virtuous the economic agents the more prosperous the economy. On one hand this conclusion goes against Adam Smith's principle of the "invisible hand" which purports that free markets work independently of the virtue of managers. On the other hand, the pastoral role of Church leaders is brought to the fore as their flock need to be preached how to be more virtuous on the job, for the sake of their own souls naturally and for the sake of economic growth, as well as of political harmony.

The book thus ends as an economic and political pamphlet as it main body stands as a justification of free-markets, provided that proper virtuous behavior be demonstrated by the principal economic agents.

Thus all persons who pretend to any degree of general education and interest in civic affairs—included how Central European and Third World countries can be helped out of their poor economic situations—should also be avid readers of this book.

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