Obviously, St. Francis was no captain of industry, but his Rule does have a lot to say to businesspeople. Challenging ideas that make you think and that can lay the groundwork for a different way of running a business and of managing relations with both customers and employees. It may be that profits and the Franciscan Rule are not like the devil and holy water after all. Maybe they can go together, and not just because there are a few “good” businesspeople out there.
This is a topic that has been approached by Thomas Dienberg, professor of Theology and Spirituality, dean at Philosophisch-Theologische Hochscule Münster and, above all, a friar in the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor. His book, Economia e spiritualità. Regola francescana e cultura d’impresa (Economics & Spirituality. The Franciscan Rule and the culture of enterprise), isn’t a lengthy work, but it is profound and a definite page turner.
It begins with an observation. The Church made a significant contribution to the birth of the modern “society of organizations”, and the rules of the religious orders – from the Franciscans to the Benedictines – can be seen as an attempt to bring together the needs of governance and the desires of spirituality, the guidance of organizations and evangelical poverty. And it is this “spiritual dimension” that is increasingly being pointed to as a crucial component of our economic future and of the development of a more modern, more conscious and more responsible management of the public wellbeing, of change, of quality and of people.
In other words, and on the back of the scandals and misconduct that are popping up everywhere, we are seeing a growing desire to give meaning to our jobs, to manage business relations in a more open, honest manner, and to better govern conflict. We are looking for businesses that are innovating not only in their products, but also in their ability to restore service as a pillar of business ethics in a true and credible way.
All of this is to be found in Dienberg’s book, which opens with a general overview of the connection between economics, business and the Rule before focusing on the management of public wellbeing, the management of change, the management of quality, and the management of people.
Economia e spiritualità. Regola francescana e cultura d’impresa
EDB, 2013 (Italian version)