Book Review: Doing Virtuous Business

 

“Doing Virtuous Business” by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Complimentary Copy from BookSneeze Bloggers Program

Rating: B-

Sorry people, but my third *complimentary* selection from Book Sneeze, yields another mediocre review. Having high hopes for the material distributed by BookSneeze, a leading supplier of Christian print, I am a bit confused as to why the selections have been less than stellar reads. In the case of this most recent book, I think it just boils down to a difference in political ideology from that of the author.

I want to commend Theodore Roosevelt Malloch for his efforts to bring honor, integrity, and credibility back to the workplace, as well as for the emphasis on using one’s business as a tool to produce positive change in the world. Relying on a myriad of religious teachings, “Doing Virtuous Business: The Remarkable Success of Spiritual Enterprise,” challenges leaders of corporations and non-profits alike, to manage all aspects of business according to the following principles:

(1)   Start with a mission that is above yourself and personal gain; one that promotes fairness and creativity in the workplace.

(2)   Lead with a blending of the Cardinal Virtues (temperance, courage, justice, wisdom), Theological Virtues (faith, hope, charity), Hard Virtues (leadership, courage, patience, discipline, perseverance), and Soft Virtues (forgiveness, compassion, humility, gratitude).

(3)   Purpose to make charity an integral part of any business model so that lives may be for the better (locally and globally) and the world a better place as a result.

While Malloch is not anti-profit and disapproves of government regulation in market affairs, he argues strongly against greed and personal gain as primary motives for business management. Clearly articulated as a theme throughout Malloch’s work is a challenge to return to the days when people–customers and employees alike–matter above profit, when demonstration of the “Golden Rule” was commonplace behavior on the showroom floor, when respect and honesty marked the decorum in the conference room and marketing campaigns, and all was so because of a genuine concern and care for fellow man.

The author provides a host of real-life examples in his discussion of the Virtues of successful corporate leaders, conscientious employees, and companies that have stood the test of time using solid virtues as the guiding force of their mission. (I found the portions of inspirational stories my favorite part of the book.)

So ends the positive assessment, and really, for the points listed above, “Doing Virtuous Business” is certainly worth the read. My struggles with the text occur in identifying with the author’s political identity. Based on various comments throughout the chapters, I assume the author is conservative, a free market capitalist, in favor of corporate manageability without government oversight, and who feels the academic system in America has been taken over by the “Liberal agenda.” Malloch is quick to slam “the Liberals” yet fails to expose “the Conservatives” for demonstrating the same behavior, and demonstrates a sorely inadequate understanding of “Social Justice.” I do not identify as a Republican, I feel little attachment to conservative talking points, nor do I feel the role of Government should be “hands off” the market, and as a graduate of a strong liberal arts institution I can say that critical thinking skills are alive and well in academia today–students are spoon fed very little. I feel you out to call both the “pot” and “kettle” black, and please don’t even get me started on the fear (and ignorance) surrounding the term “Social Justice” in the Christian community. Given our differences of opinion, I struggled through some of the content present, for I found some digressions out-of-place and inappropriate.

Did I experience moments in which I wanted to throw this book across the room? Yes, a few. Will the political differences deter me from recommending this book? Nope. Will I read this again in the future? Yes. And the reason being the material, concepts, and virtues presented are important to wrestle with. We have reached a critical point in American culture, in our world, where the moral influence has shifted. Too many stories fill the media of corruption, hostile takeovers, and the mismanagement of time, trust, and treasure by those in Executive positions. One of the points Malloch drives home is that we each have a choice: we participate in creating and shaping our present and future, personally and professionally. In the context of the corporate sector, the author maintains that change does not happen from the top down, it begins with the individual. We each have an important role to play, whether employee or CEO, in re-shaping the culture of work environments. “Doing Virtuous Business” opens a dialogue and offers a space to reflect on the qualities and characteristics essential for operating a successful enterprise that is mutually beneficial, financially successful, and has a positive impact on society.

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