Capt Sivanadan Vivekanandan
Senior Lecturer, Malaysian Maritime Academy
The Pious Entrepreneur: The Struggle
The struggle between the pursuit of material interest and adherence to moral values is the perennial problem of human existence and to put moral precepts into practice constitutes another central issue in business ethics (Tak, S. C., & Ambrose, Y., 2004). Business is all about making profit (at least many believe this premise) and profit equals to revenue minus cost. A pious person is a person who strongly believes in religion and lives in a way that shows this belief. An example of a pious person might be a person who never misses his or her prayers. In this newsletter I would to see how a pious man might fair in business—is it possible and would the outcome be better or worse for all stakeholders?
A Pious Man: The Ethics of Entrepreneurs
The word entrepreneur comes from the French word entreprede which means to undertake; entrepreneurs are individuals who undertake the risk of new ventures. An entrepreneur invests, transforms and makes profit (Richard, 1755). Entrepreneurs are individuals who actually form or lead their own businesses and nurture them for both growth and prosperity. They normally strive to go beyond the normal practice of business formation and they practice good ethics! They normally nurture and expand the business for individual families and societal prosperity. This urge for expansion doesn’t stop there, they are always eager to explore more—to question what is normal.
The Pious Man: The Religious Man, God Fearing Man and Businessman
A pious person is a religious and a god fearing person. Normally pious people have the following characteristics which are hardworking, good moral values, respect for people, honesty, trust worthiness, motivated, integrity, normally friendly, cooperative and treats everyone fairly. These are quite interestingly the same prerequisite characters to be an entrepreneur as opposed to the “average businessmen”. Although the aforementioned characteristics might not be said of many business leaders today. With that said, the characteristics that an entrepreneur possesses, in the author’s humble opinion – a pious person can compete in today’s business world! Additionally, in the author’s opinion – to compete in today’s business world it is not a matter of being pious or not, but rather being able to change and keep on improving. We all probably can change, but do we want to change — do the “rewards” outweigh the cons?
The Pious Man: The Story Goes
The following is a story that always keeps reminding me of the present business world. In a famous company before being acquired by a bigger company, the CEO once ended his speech saying this “…we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. Upon saying this, all his management team, himself included, teared sadly. This famous company had been a respectable company. They didn’t do anything wrong to their business, however the world around them changed too fast. Their opponents seized the initiative, paradigm shift and eventually became too powerful to compete against. They missed out on the change, the paradigm shift and thus lost the opportunity at hand to make it big. Someone once said, when a paradigm shift comes along, those who do not get on board will be left behind. Not only did they miss the opportunity to earn big money, they lost their chance of survival—to be a continual going concern. The take home message from this story is, if we don’t change, we shall be removed from the competition.
The Pious Man: Not Learning is Not Wrong?
It’s not wrong if we don’t want to learn new things. However if our thoughts and mind set cannot catch up with times, we can be eliminated or “suffer the consequences” of our action or inaction as it were. We have to accept the fact that the advantages we had yesterday, will be replaced by the new trends of tomorrow. We don’t have to do anything wrong, as long as your competitors catch the paradigm shift and does things right, we can lose out and fail.
To change and improve ourselves is giving us a second chance. To be forced by others to change, is like being discarded. Those who refuse to learn and improve will definitely one day become redundant and not relevant to the industry. They will have to learn the lesson in a hard and expensive way. Remember, a pious man shows devotion to the task—reverence or discipline of action.
The Pious Man: We All Make Choices
From the above story there is nothing stated that pious people can’t compete in today’s business world. However it is stated A pious entrepreneur normally knows how to control himself or herself and might not be influenced by corruption. Corruption is one of the main problems in business. Milton and Smith (1995) discovered high profile entrepreneurs became folk heroes and one suspects, the most influential business role models for the community. When the bubble finally bursts and the crash comes, it soon becomes clear how corrupt and leaderless the “Country’s” [actual name not disclosed here] system had become. In the wake of corporate collapses, many questions have been raised about the integrity of business and government leaders. This is not a new phenomenon. But can a pious man change all that? When then Catholic President John F Kennedy (JFK) was to become President – many thought that he might be taking orders from the Pope Himself. This turned out not to be true!.
The Pious Man: The Conclusion
In conclusion, a successful entrepreneur should have three social motives which are the need for achievement, the need for power and the need for affiliation. A pious person normally will have a high need for achievement and high need for affiliation. However he might not have a high need for power but overall the combination of three motives should be able to fair just as well if not better than most business leaders without profit being the prime motivation. For with the “pious business methodology,” the business may even make more profit for many of the aforementioned virtuous reasons. There are many entrepreneurs who don’t do well because they are jealous of their fellow entrepreneurs. These jealous entrepreneurs will probably spend their precious time trying to sabotage the business of their fellow entrepreneur instead of using the time to try to improve their business. This indeed will be a major downfall for the jealous entrepreneur. A pious person normally won’t be jealous if his fellow entrepreneurs are doing well, in fact he will use the example of the successful entrepreneur to bring himself to greater heights. Being an entrepreneur can be a noble profession provided we follow good ethics. If we create profit through running the enterprise, then we can pay the profit back to the society, bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the society. Doing business to create profit is not a bad thing at all. By creating employment opportunities, we will create prosperity. It is actually a noble undertaking.
Tak, S.C., & Ambrose, Y.K. (2004). Righteousness and profitableness: The moral choices of contempora ry Confucian entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Ethics, 54: 245-260. Murrey, H. (2014). Entrepreneurship as a means to create Islamic economy. Economic, Management and Financial Markets, Volume 9(1), 75-100. that if we don’t want to learn new things and thus our thoughts and mind set cannot catch up with times, we can be eliminated from the business competition. A pious person will always believe in god and normally won’t cheat. If he can do something, he will say he can and if he cannot he will say cannot. He will try his very best not to use the sentence like “If I am not mistaken”. He will definitely check and re-check before uttering the words, because words have power and cannot be pulled back once spewed. Once your customers start to question your credibility, they will try to find an alternative and possibly do their business elsewhere. So a pious man can always compete in today’s business.