In his New York Times Bestseller, Good Profit, Charles Koch, an entrepreneur from Wichita, Kansas, who runs one of the largest private companies in the world, lays out his Market-Based Management (MBM) business philosophy. Grounded in the idea that business is a noble pursuit designed to improve the world through entrepreneurship, innovation, and service to one’s fellow man, Market-Based Management appears to share some basic principles with Catholic social doctrine. Among these are the importance of work and creativity for human flourishing and the necessity for personal virtue and commitment to the common good in order for profit to be beneficial to the human community rather than a drain on it.
Good profit, Koch explains, results from a company’s efforts aimed at “maximizing the long-term profitability of its business by creating superior value for customers while consuming fewer resources and always acting lawfully and with integrity.” Catholic social teaching emphasizes that the economy must exist to serve people, not the other way around.
How does MBM compare with Catholic social doctrine? Profit is essential for business to exist, but what limits ought we to recognize in pursuing profit? What is the difference between creating goods and services that customers value and freely choose versus rent-seeking and exploitation? What is the relationship between entrepreneurship and the creativity of work? What is the business community’s duty to workers displaced by market innovation? How can what Koch calls good profit –including hiring for virtue before talent and painstaking attention to ensure that internal incentives reward virtuous behavior and real business solutions– contribute to individual self-worth and honor human dignity?
These are some of the questions that will be discussed this fall at the 2017 conference Good Profit: How Profitable Business Can Be a Force for Good hosted by the Napa Institute and the Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America. I hope that you will join us as we explore the notion of “good profit” in light of Catholic social doctrine in order to spur us all, Church leaders, scholars, and business leaders, to make wise decisions that contribute to a robust and fully human economy.
Andreas Widmer is co-founder and the Director of the Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship. He is a successful entrepreneur and CEO who found his calling while serving as a Swiss Guard protecting Pope St. John Paul II.