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Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life Hardcover – June 11, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0684827483 ISBN-10: 0684827484 Edition: Gift Inscription on Fep

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Gift Inscription on Fep edition (June 11, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684827484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684827483
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In straightforward language, Novak (Belief and Unbelief) sets out to refute the popular conception that business leaders are materialistic and rapacious, asserting that "business not only creates social connections, lifts its participants out of poverty, and builds the foundation of democracy, but also can and must be morally uplifting." His central conceit is that, like the work of priests and ministers, the labors of businessmen and -women are often animated by a sense of calling. Novak cites a 1990 poll that found that after military officers, "more people in business attended church every week than any other elite." While it remains to be proven that the morals espoused in church or temple can and do hold sway on the battlefields of market competition, Novak's meditations should cause those who believe "enlightened capitalism" to be an oxymoron to think twice. Author tour. (June) FYI: Novak won the 1994 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

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 ‚migr‚ 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) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Michael Novak, retired George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy from the American Enterprise Institute, is an author, philosopher, and theologian. Michael Novak resides in Ave Maria, Florida as a trustee and visiting professor at Ave Maria University.

Ever since The Open Church hit shelves in 1964, Michael Novak has been a voice of insight on American and Catholic culture. Author of more than 45 books on culture, philosophy, and theology, Novak continues to influence and guide right thinking. Winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize, Novak's Westminster Abbey address remains as instructive it was two decades ago. As a founding director of First Things and writer for many publications, Novak has sought to build up our institutions.

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. on January 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was reccomended by a friend and I was fascinated by the title. The book is a quick read with many references to socio-economic theory and the Catholic way. The book was written by Mr. Novak, a distinguished author who grasps both the economic and theological apsects of modern day business activities. He does a good job of portraying work as a means to help the common good of all society.The idea that being productive as a person in business can benefit others in unseen ways is worthy. Even business can work in its' self interest while helping advance society. Business as a calling tied together many aspects of faith, work and finding meaning in a career. This book should be on the must read list of every young MBA or CEO.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By James Hastings on November 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The view going in is very different than the view coming out. Novak's idealism helped to encourage me in my own. I read this book as an undergraduate business student struggling to find the balance that I saw in between greed and good. I so enjoyed his language, examples, and message that I recommended it to my Business Ethics professor. Last I heard, he was planning on using it as one of the textbooks. I gave it a 4 star rating because although it was a good read, it could always be better. Let's leave some room for improvement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ty on May 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Was assigned this book for my business ethics class and didn't mind it at all. Though I believe Novak chooses to dismiss any horrible actions taken by Andrew Carnegie, he does use well placed themes and arguments to suggest that capitalism is the best known system in today's world which allows man to fulfill their calling and purpose in an ethical manner.
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By Brad on August 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great for the business man to understand his calling. Great for the lay person to understand business men. Should be required reading for any college business freshman.
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