Focus on Business Ethics
Seacoast Science Center, Inc. (SSC) was founded as a not for profit start-up within a larger not for profit organization, the Audubon Society of New Hampshire. It was established as a year-round visitor’s center for a state park by a group of two public (state) and two nonprofit organizations. The Audubon Society of New Hampshire took on the management contract for the new center in 1992.
SSC’s CEO, Wendy Lull, was hired by Audubon before the center opened. She hired the rest of the start-up’s employees. From the first day-camp operation, she oversaw development of her vision via educational programming which was focused specifically on the seacoast and its habitats, rather than on Audubon’s more general wildlife and bird-based programs.
In 2002, SSC became an independent 501(c)3 (nonprofit) organization, with Wendy Lull as President. Its mission is “To instill understanding of coastal habitats and human interactions with those habitats over time through exceptional educational programs and exhibits, for families and groups, in a natural, historic setting.” Its independent status allows the organization to develop programs and to fund-raise independently, and to focus (as the mission states) on coastal habitats and issues.
Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) was founded in 1997 as a not for profit start-up. SHI provides farmers and communities in the tropics with long-term assistance in implementing environmentally and economically sustainable technologies. Founder Florence Reed’s original focus was on providing subsistence slash-and-burn farmers in Central America with alternative agricultural technology. In the early days, she did everything, including planting and other field work, as well as recruiting and training local extensionists to work with farmers and communities.
SHI’s current goals are “to reverse environmental degradation by helping rural inhabitants restore ecological stability and sustainable economic productivity to overexploited lands.” Developing viable market opportunities for the local products is becoming increasingly important, once farmers adopt sustainable agricultural practices. Florence Reed is also helping to develop country based subsidiaries of SHI with their own sustainable donor base, enabling SHI’s resources to be transferred to new communities and countries.
Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) can be characterized as a not for profit organization with entrepreneurial nonprofit subunits. Its business is self-described as a “non-profit ecumenical Christian housing ministry”. The original concept was “Partnership Housing”: - “where those in need of adequate shelter would work side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.” The houses were sold at cost (with most materials and labor donated), with no interest charged on housing loans.
The concept developed at Koinonia Farm (GA), a Christian farming community, by Linda and Millard Fuller and Clarance Jordan, a farmer and biblical scholar. The first homes were built at the farm. The Fullers then spent three years in Zaire applying the partnership housing concept, before returning to US and founding Habitat for Humanity in 1976.
The organization’s current goal is: “to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.” HFHI’s current strategy operates through affiliates formed by local groups “who come together to address the problem of poverty housing in their community.” These local groups apply to HFHI for affiliate status. The 1900 affiliates worldwide are independently run local nonprofit organizations. They are expected to contribute 10% to HFHI to carry on international building.
Although there are a number of differences among the organizations discussed, there are also strong similarities. All have a strong focus on a mission which includes social responsibility beyond the actions (sometimes despite the actions) of market forces. All have displayed entrepreneurial behavior. They share a willingness to take on new or untypical social roles, and believe that they can make a difference. All have or had strong leaders whose personal behavior and vision set the direction for the organization.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were entrepreneurs by any definition, who set up a series of socially oriented behaviors as part of the value chain of their for-profit organization. Hirshberg and Kayman of Stonyfield Farms provided products within a for profit company while “saving the family farm” and engaging in activities to promote environmental responsibility and resource conservation.
Reed of SHI and Fuller of HFHI are entrepreneurs in an entrepreneurial activity. They are essentially the same as a dot.com founder, moving into areas where there are no established organizations, or where those organizations are not effective in meeting customers’ (clients’) needs. However, their organizations are not for profit, and they both fit Dees’ definition of a social entrepreneur. Fuller of HFHI also has created a network of entrepreneurial subunits, a process which Reed is beginning.
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Learning to be Leaders: Can Civic Virtues be Taught?
by Robert E. Proctor
Can civic virtues be taught? Can we ever "prove" that good books and inspiring teachers set young adults on a path that will lead them to become good citizens and virtuous leaders, as the Renaissance humanists believed? I found the answer to this question last summer.
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Ethical speculation is inherently antagonistic to culture. Arguably, rules of conduct and the methods for deriving them ought to be or are immune to the distortions of culture. Go to article
Business Chair Inaugurated at the University of Southern New Hampshire
Business Ethics and The Classics Remarks by Mary Papoutsy presented at the Papoutsy Endowed Chair in Business Ethics Inaugural Dinner and Reception, April 2002
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Measuring Opacity, by Christos and Mary Papoutsy
What does corruption in business and government cost the average citizen in Greece and other countries? The Opacity Index provides some answers. Go to article
Institutionalizing Ethics in a Global Economy, by Ken Goodpaster
The Caux Round Table is a group of 25-50 business leaders from around the world, including especially Japan, Europe and North America. About seven years ago, this group embraced a set of ethical principles for guiding international business organizations. Go to article
Are Business Practices in Greece Corrupt? by Christos and Mary Papoutsy
With the increasing globalization and interdependency of businesses around the world, multinational corporations must confront diverse cultural practices and business climates. Increasingly, the challenges stem from cultural clashes and unethical business practices. Go to article