Spirituality: A key factor to achieve sustainability through the empowerment of compassionate/altruistic managers
Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Purusharta, Volume 5, Number 1, p.29-42 (2012)
Economy has been largely discussed but its essence is scarcely embodied in management. Its etymology means dharmic management with the main idea of using sparingly, taking the right share. Actual economic paradigm, lifeblind and greedy, is contradictory with these dharmic aspects. Green economy and responsible practices are also showing limitations to achieve sustainability. They are not in tune with the need to reduce material throughput as expressed by the Club of Rome 40 years ago and advocated by steady state economists and degrowth movement. A sustainable paradigm of management clearly needs to affirm its responsibility towards society and recognize the central role of nature. Four sustainability principles have been scientifically defined, based on laws of Nature and Physics. In such a challenge, only spiritual values can help. Spirituality which is positively associated to individual and organizational well-being certainly brings more righteousness and altruism through life interconnectedness, vision, and compassion. It indicates the way to material reduction with values such as non-violence, non-acquisitiveness and contentment. Indian tradition prescribed the balancing of four purusharthas - dharma, artha, kama & moksha - as an ideal way of directing oneself which automatically led to an ethical life, both individually and collectively. It is perhaps time to have a re-look at this model in order to draw lessons for modern management. Even though this new paradigm seems utopian, there is a potential to empower compassionate/altruistic managers. Spirituality may strengthen managers on certain life skills such as decision making, empathy, coping with emotions and stress. A recent study has shown that students who are highly spiritual and religious have a better perception of their psychological, social and cognitive skills. This potential needs to be studied more thoroughly to identify how spirituality is creating favorable circumstances to achieve sustainability.
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