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Prophets, Profits, and Peace

Prophets, Profits, and Peace: The Positive Role of Business in Promoting Religious Tolerance

Timothy L. Fort
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Prophets, Profits, and Peace
    Book Description:

    This groundbreaking book investigates the religious issues that businesses confront as they expand their global activity and proposes that corporations can become instruments of peace. Timothy Fort discusses the newly emerging idea of "peace through commerce," and he argues powerfully that today's businesses have the capacity to foster both peace and religious harmony.

    Fort asks and answers important questions: How might businesses integrate spirituality into corporate affairs? How can spirituality contribute to the production of high-quality goods and services? What can be done to promote a spiritual connection between employees and their work? Can this be done without provoking religious animosities? What business practices might encourage an atmosphere in which constructive dialogue among spiritual traditions could proceed? The author concludes that by implementing the peaceful practices advocated by religions at their best, businesses can both nurture religious harmony and strengthen their communities.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14954-8
    Subjects: Business, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. Part I. Tied Up in Nots

      (pp. 3-28)

      Several years ago, a colleague posed a question to me via e-mail: Did I really think that multinational corporations offered the best hope for a revitalization of spirituality worldwide? I was puzzled by the question because I had never argued that corporations might provide such a tonic. My colleague, though, had read an article in which I argued that corporate leaders could better accommodate religious preferences and respect religious reasons for making decisions in business. I had argued that whether managers liked it or not, religious belief was a fact of life and that in a global environment, responding to...

      (pp. 29-55)

      Whereas in the first chapter I looked at thefactthat religions collide, in this chapter I look at the normative considerations of when and how religious and spiritual beliefshouldaffect business. Take the following as an example. Several years ago, my business-school ethics class developed a hypothetical drug-testing policy. The class decided to require drug testing upon entry to the company, and thereafter on a random basis. To protect against “false positives,” the policy provided that any person testing positive would be retested prior to any further action by the company. If the person tested positive again, the...

      (pp. 56-84)

      The first chapter was about thefactthat religion and business do bump up against each other. Chapter 2 was about whether religionshouldhave a voice in business and, if so, the concerns that arise. This chapter is aboutwhybusiness may benefit from listening to spiritual ideas. The basic idea is that companiesneedto be trusted in order to flourish. It simply is good business to have a trustworthy reputation, and this chapter sets out three kinds of trust that make business more trustworthy. These notions of trust do not arise out of thin air. They are...

  5. Part II. Corporate Instruments of Peace

      (pp. 87-116)

      Let me return to the story I told in the last chapter about the consulting assignment for a small firm. It was a firm that any business ethicist would love to work with: it treated its employees well; it was deeply engaged in the community; it was environmentally conscious; it was the leader in its industrial sector. The only problem was that the thirty or so family shareholders didn’t get along well. At all. In fact, one might say that the level of animosity had reached hatred. They all shared a commitment to the family business—both because it was...

      (pp. 117-148)

      In chapter 1 I showed that religion and business do in fact collide. In chapter 2 I sketched a normative approach that could foster constructive contributions by religion to business while limiting some of religion’s problems. Chapter 3 was about why business might want to foster the interaction: doing so will help its credibility by attending to an aspect of human nature deep in our bones. In chapter 4 I argued that the question of whose religion and which spirituality might be practiced has to be answered in terms of “ours.” All of this is well and good, but achieving...

      (pp. 149-176)

      In chapter 1 I showed several collision points between religion and business, recognizing that, for better or worse, each needs to take the other into account. The fact is that religion and business intersect, sometimes not too happily. In chapter 2 I looked at whether religionshouldhave something to say about the secular work of business and concluded that religion does have something to offer, but that those normative prescriptions need to be advanced with an awareness of the ways in which those prescriptions affect other believers and nonbelievers. Chapter 3 was about why business might want to listen...

  6. NOTES
    (pp. 177-198)
  7. INDEX
    (pp. 199-206)