For my blog this morning I’d like to write what I am sharing at chapel on Thursday. I have been on a journey that has become clearer to me, over the last two years. It began in 1988 after having Pastored a small church for a few years, realizing that may not be where God had called me, and going back to school to get a business degree that I began down the road that has led to today
In 1992 I ended up studying Business at Warner Pacific College. I found out I liked the subject of Business Ethics. After finishing my MBA in 1997, I came back to WPC and asked if I could teach in the adult program. My research and teaching over the years has reinforced the importance of an Ethical Business model. This has been refined into a sustainable business model emphasizing a triple bottom-line. It is my opinion that Businesses that focus on Economic, Social, and Environmental objectives are strong competitors. A balanced performance ethic, with trust as the foundation, will drive business accomplishment.
However, two years ago I had the opportunity to teach URB/EC 420. Microenterprise Development. This course explores how to “utilize a systematic method for analyzing the role of community organizations in the economic turn-around of neighborhoods through job creation, and how microenterprise principles interplay with social forces to shape the economic development of urban neighborhoods.” I had five business students and five social science students in this very early morning class, and we debated the roles of business, government, and community in improving our social condition. It was during this course, that I began to understand the opportunities that could be advanced through the exercise of free enterprise with government support. This started me down a new road of research and exploration dealing with the subjects of Business As Mission, Social Business, and Social Entrepreneurship. This in turn has resulted in a new major that will be offered in August of 2013, Social Entrepreneurship.
The last piece to the puzzle that has led up to our chapel this morning involved conversations that Dr. Cole Dawson, Professor Terry Baker, and I have been having around teaching Business in a Christ –centered, liberal arts, institution. I have come to a conclusion that how we frame our business program at Warner Pacific College must be different than Portland State, Washington State, or other secular institutions. A student that graduates from here with a business degree needs to have the appropriate Business Acumen. They must have the tools to be able to have an excellent career. However, they must also recognize their responsibility to be Salt and Light within the world. They are to be business leaders that are different; they are not to lose their saltiness. And any student that graduates from here, should be able to recognize the bigger purpose, “to whom much is given much is required.”
Finally, the idea of free enterprise has been hijacked and vilified, when it is a tool that can improve lives. Is a free market an egalitarian utopia, no, which is why we have dialog; to find that place of equilibrium, or as Marquis Childs calls it “the middle way.” Many large corporations recognize the importance of this middle way through Corporate Social Responsibility. Although the CEO of Coca Cola has just stated we need to rethink Capitalism, PepsiCO has been rethinking Capitalism for years, as have many other companies. CSR, Social Business, and other expressions of sustainability are excellent ways of finding the middle way.
And that is my thought for the day!