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Humanistic Management and Religion: a Case for the Constructivist Approach to Jewish Business Ethics

Moses L. Pava ()
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Moses L. Pava: Yeshiva University

Humanistic Management Journal, 2020, vol. 5, issue 2, No 4, 199-214

Abstract: Abstract Humanistic management theory and religiously grounded business ethics are both important research avenues for the study of business management. This paper links these two domains by examining to what extent a religiously grounded business ethics can potentially contribute to the broad and burgeoning literature on humanistic management through an exploration of the case of Jewish business ethics. Specifically, this paper examines three distinct ways of doing Jewish business ethics. These three ways are labeled here as traditionalist, integrationist, and constructivist. Each of these distinct paths begins with a different conception of the fundamental relationship between Judaism and business. Traditionalists believe that the creation of wealth is a legitimate practice, but only because Judaism says so. Integrationists, by contrast, consider wealth creation as a legitimate practice on its own terms. From this perspective, wealth creation is viewed as a positive human activity, independent of its grounding in religious thought. Judaism contributes to wealth creation by setting and guarding its appropriate boundaries and limits and by serving as an external source of morality and meaning, often invoking broad aspirational Jewish values like tikkun olam (repair of the world). Finally, constructivists agree with the integrationists about the stand-alone value of wealth creation. Constructivists push even further, though, and assert that business is not only a legitimate practice, but it is a potentially meaningful one. Business is imagined as an ongoing and open-ended constructive project, one that includes a broad and complex set of human values including wealth creation, but potentially other values like covenantal leadership, kindness, everyday redemption, and other higher purposes. Here, business is no longer viewed merely as a source of material wealth for society but business is envisioned as a potentially important location and source of human meaning and fulfillment. For the constructivists, the role of Jewish business ethics is not to judge business from the outside, but it is to actively participate and contribute to an expansive dialogue with other business ethics voices, centered on the construction of new and evolved forms of business as a human enterprise.

Keywords: Jewish business ethics; Humanistic management; Kindness; Constructivism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s41463-020-00087-6

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