BUSINESS AS A CALLING by Michael Novak

BUSINESS AS A CALLING

Work and the Examined Life
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A spirited defense of commerce as a worthy career and of democratic capitalism as the best socioeconomic system among known alternatives. Like John M. Hood (The Heroic Enterprise, page 504), Novak (The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1992, etc.) finds much to admire. Indeed, he argues that business has a vested interest in goodness if only because it cannot advance in the absence of such cardinal virtues as cooperation, courage, honesty, industry, innovation, practicality, and realism. The author goes on to document the many ways in which for-profit concerns benefit host communities and the wider world simply by measuring up to their basic obligations--creating new jobs, earning appropriate returns on investments, producing wealth, promoting respect for the rule of law, satisfying customers, et al. He also notes ways in which trade unions might play more constructive roles in an era of corporate downsizing, e.g., by organizing labor collectives to offer pools of skilled contract workers to employers. Novak (a sometime seminarian who makes no secret of his Roman Catholic faith) is at pains to couch his message in ecumenical rather than ecclesiastic terms. To this end, he dwells on studies indicating that, among America's elites, businesspeople trail only the clergy and military officers in the degree of their religiosity. While the author cites the achievements of a wealth of entrepreneurs and executives, moreover, he singles out Andrew Carnegie for extended attention as a sort of secular saint. In particular, Novak is fascinated by the ÇmigrÇ industrialist's resolve to give away all his riches before he died. The author devotes the best part of his concluding chapter to this largesse and what he believes are the lessons to be learned from it. Vocational counseling of an unusual order, as tough-minded as it is good-hearted. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 11th, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-82748-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996




MORE BY MICHAEL NOVAK

NonfictionWRITING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT by Michael Novak
by Michael Novak
NonfictionWASHINGTON’S GOD by Michael Novak
by Michael Novak
NonfictionTHE UNIVERSAL HUNGER FOR LIBERTY by Michael Novak
by Michael Novak