For six years, Dr. Michael Naughton, director of the John A. Ryan Center for Catholic Social Thought, and Helen Alford O.P., dean of Social Sciences at the Angelicum University, have collaborated in writing a book that uniquely integrates the Catholic social tradition, and management theory and practice. By challenging the double standard of private and public moralities, the book bridges what is for some managers and employees a fault line between work and faith. Recovering a rich social tradition found within Christianity, the authors connect the well-developed ideas of the common good, virtue and social principles with concrete management issues such as job design, just wages, marketing communication and product development.
As Bob Wahlstedt, chairman of Reell Precision Manufacturing, states in the foreword to the book, “Michael and Helen combine the results of their theological inquiry with the experience of practitioners to make a compelling case for the integration of spiritual principles, values and insights with management theory.” The book will challenge both those who think that the Christian tradition has nothing to say to modern business and those who think that nothing more than a personal living-out of their faith in the work situation is needed.
The promotion of the common good is put forward as a more realistic purpose for the firm than the maximization of shareholder wealth or stakeholder wealth. By building a critique of both the shareholder and stakeholder models, Alford and Naughton propose a third and more realistic possibility: the common good.
"Recovering a rich social tradition found within Christianity, the authors connect the well-developed ideas of the common good, virtue and social principles with concrete management issues."
What does promoting the common good involve? A key element is the promotion of human development and virtue in the firm. Alford and Naughton discuss what we can say in general about human development and what promotes or hinders it, without prejudicing the vast diversity of human development in the lives of particular people. Similarly, the authors follow in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition by arguing that to grow into a fully developed person involves growing in virtue, which involves pursuing good ends using good means.
An important part of Managing as if Faith Mattered is devoted to the skills that are prerequisites for operationalizing a vision of the common good in today’s business organization. The authors attend to four critical management issues – job design, just wages, ownership structures and product development – and probe critical human concerns in each area. They inquire into the reasons operations/ production management has paid so little attention to designing jobs that help people to grow. They explore the tendency of human resources management to instrumentalize human relations when determining employees’ pay. They examine the role of finance and its failure to promote the distribution of capital ownership. And they explain why the cult of the customer in marketing results in an unhealthy consumerism.
The book concludes with both a personal and communal spirituality of work. Recognizing that apart from an authentic spirituality of work, the balance of their ideas and proposals for the integration of faith and work is a dead letter.