Tapping spirituality to reset corporate goals

January 4th, 2012 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Lehman Brothers Bangalore, Jan 4 (IANS) The global economic meltdown, for which corporate greed in the developed world is mainly blamed, seems to be prompting management experts to bank on spirituality to reset goals for businesses.

Over 100 management experts from about 60 countries will meet here next week to “address for the first time (in India) the spiritual side of corporate management,” Ramnath Narayanswamy, economics professor at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B), told IANS.

The management gurus and practitioners will be attending the three-day “The International Spirituality Conference” from Jan 9 organised by the IIM-B and the Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion (JMSR).

Narayanswamy and Yochanan Altman, professor of management and JMSR founding-editor, are the conference directors.

The conference is supported by BEM Bordeaux Management School, France, the Institute of Labor Studies, Barcelona, and the Business and Design Lab of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

On the role of spirituality in management, The Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion says “The remarkable explosion of scholarship in the field of management, business, organisations and work provides the opportunity for more specialised interest areas.”

“One area whose time has come is that of Spirituality and Religion — and their role in shaping organizations: structures, decision making, management style, mission and strategy, organizational culture, human resource management, finance and accounting, marketing and sales…– in short: all aspects of organising and managing resources and people,” the journal said.

The eight-year-old journal, published by Britain’s Routledge, claims to be “the first dedicated forum for scholars and practitioners engaged in the pursuit of spirituality and religion in the context of work and organisations, and in particular management; pertaining to issues affecting all and any aspects of managing, organising and work”.

The Bangalore gathering is aimed at enabling “corporate management and spirituality hold hands”. This is the second such conference after that in Vienna in December 2010.

Narayanswamy said it will “focus on burning issues of the current economic climate such as the adequacy of the current paradigms of management when looking towards the future, should Western management models be adapted by the East and finally, what both the East and West can learn from each other?”

“We look to hear from experts the world over on concerns such as: is today’s modern form of management best suited for the challenges we face? What can we learn from each other and how does the new epoch of spirituality fit into these new emerging agendas?” he said.

The conference will discuss the role management plays in shaping an organisation’s decision-making models, managing resources efficiently and guiding people in the context of spirituality and religion.

“Recent developments reveal that there is a growing belief that spirituality is intimately connected with ‘purpose’ and ‘meaning’, not so much ‘religion’, and that corporate work can be fulfilling if steeped with purpose. Meanwhile there is also an urgent need for businesses to be ethical, inclusive, compassionate and moral,” Narayanswamy said.

Key speakers at the meet will be from India, France, Britain, the United States, Sweden, South Africa, Dubai, Spain, Germany and Denmark.

On what prompted the meet, Narayanswamy said: “There has been a growing concern to incorporate spiritual teachings into management theory and practice”.

“Two events precipitated this development. The tragic events of 9/11 in the United States and the unceremonious collapse of multibillion dollar entities like Enron and Lehman Brothers.

“The first highlighted the strong case for inter-faith harmony, while the second highlighted the need for checks and balances because in retrospect these were cases of collusion between consulting companies and chartered accountants who grossly overvalued the net assets of these firms,” Narayanswamy said.

Eighty papers on multiple domains like spirituality as revelation, workplace spirituality, personal sustainability, spirituality in management education and many other diverse fields will be presented during the conference, he said.

Asked whether the conclusions of the conference will become part of the curriculum at IIMs, Narayanswamy said: “I have been teaching a course of Spirituality and Self-Development for Global Managers for the past 11 years. Spirituality is very much part of our curriculum as an elective course.”

The Bangalore meet comes against the backdrop of widespread public outrage in the United States and many developed countries over “corporate greed”. In the US, the anger has taken the form of the “Occupy Wall Street” campaign that has now spread to almost all developed countries.

In India too there were feeble attempts at “Occupy Dalal Street” in Mumbai, where the Bombay Stock Exchange is located.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at vs.karnic@ians.in)

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