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Moral Capitalism: Reconciling Private Interest with the Public Good Hardcover – October 1, 2003

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Moral Capitalism: Reconciling Private Interest with the Public Good + Doing Right in a Shrinking World: How Corporate America Can Balance Ethics and Profit in a Changing Economy + Above the Board: How Ethical CEOs Create Honest Corporations
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576752577
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576752579
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Young is the Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table, a network of senior business leaders around the world dedicated to corporate responsibility. The Caux Round Table is creator one of the most well-developed and widely publicized codes of corporate ethics.

Young has worked extensively in foreign relations. He has worked with the Council on Foreign Relations and consulted for the United States Department of State. He discovered the Bronze Age civilization of Ban Chiang Thailand, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and he opened America to the refugees from the Vietnam War in 1975. He successfully suggested to Hanoi and the Bush, Sr. Administration in Washington to support his proposal for a United Nations Interim Administration of Cambodia. He was Honorary Consul-General of Singapore from 1990 to 1996.

Young's 's law career is equally broad-based. He brought reform to the Harvard Law School as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and he championed an innovative law-school curriculum as Dean of the Hamline Law School. As an attorney, he sought to prevent diversion of $425 million of public proceeds of the tobacco settlement in Minnesota from the state’s treasury into private pockets. He challenged in Federal Court under the First Amendment’s separation of church and state the use of a radical religious approach to the environment in management of public lands.

Young has written commentary for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Pioneer Press, and The StarTribune. He has provided commentary on foreign affairs for television stations. His web commentary is available at

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Individuals are happiest and most productive when they believe that their work is not only serving their interests but also has a higher purpose of service to important goals. Individuals possess common sense that blends moral concerns with self-interest. Moral Capitalism presents the value pyramid by which individuals infuse values into their actions—values and ideals are at the top of the pyramid and self-interested actions are at the bottom, waiting to be guided by higher levels of standards and goals.

The moral character of an individual shapes the degree to which higher levels of moral value are imposed on lower levels of action. If a person seeks to be happy in their work, they need to consider what values govern their value pyramid. Sustainable profitability of a business requires common sense blending of social responsibility and service of customer needs. Virtue and interest must go together for profit maximization.

The value pyramid gives rise to two versions of capitalism: Moral Capitalism where social values of responsibility prevail and Brute Capitalism where only narrowly focused ego needs set goals and standards. Moral Capitalism permits win-win solutions, while Brute Capitalism promotes win-lose outcomes. Moral Capitalism is the form of capitalism Adam Smith advocated in The Wealth of Nations; Brute Capitalism is often called Social Darwinism for validating the survival of only the fittest.

The Caux Round Table (CRT) Principles for Business set standards for Moral Capitalism. These Principles blend the Japanese ethic of Kyosei ("human dignity" from Catholic theology on social justice) and American Protestant notions of stewardship. The CRT Principles describe 7 principles and then define certain responsibilities towards 6 stakeholder groups: consumers, employees, owners and investors, suppliers, competitors, and communities.

The CRT Principles can be decentralized into management benchmarks and objectives, permitting continuous improvement in a company’s level of social responsibility. The CRT obligations for each stakeholder group are as follows:

Consumers. The moral values of capitalism are brought to the markets by consumers. Businesses create wealth by meeting the needs of consumers

Employees. Employees should be accepted as agents participating in a fiduciary relationship of mutual respect and obligation, not as mere sellers of labor

Owners and Investors. Moral Capitalism argues for the advantages of disclosure, honest and good corporate governance

Suppliers. Moral Capitalism builds on the learning of the Total Quality Movement to advocate relationship ties with suppliers rather than one-time purchases based on price alone

Competitors. Competition in moral capitalism uses quality and innovation rather than price for business success

Communities. Business needs to pay a return on social capital in order to survive and to maximize its profits

Moral Capitalism creates wealth and ends poverty. Social capital must be in place for business to perform its social office. Government has the responsibility in the first place to build reserves of social capital. Business, as it grows, must then add to those reserves. The CRT presents Principles for Responsible Government as a companion guide for governments, which will foster conditions in which companies can prosper and be socially responsible using the CRT Principles for Business.

In Moral Capitalism, business leadership demands the assertion of values. Those who seek to lead must first go inside themselves to find the values that they will place atop their personal values pyramid. Selfish values will not do; the search for meaning does not stop with the self, but transcends the self, invoking each person’s moral sense. Moral character, not position, is the foundation of leadership. Then, leaders must develop intellectual skills of judgment and application of principles to factual situations in the manner of law judges. Leaders build Moral Capitalism and prevent the spread of Brute Capitalism.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Written by Stephen Young (the Global Executive Director of the renowned Caux Round Table, an international network of business executives), Moral Capitalism: Reconciling Private Interest With The Public Good showcases the "Caux Round Table's Seven General Principles for Business" which are the collective antidote to the destructive sides of dog-eat-dog corporate world and the crony-favoring insider deals that come with "brute capitalism" unmitigated by justice or fairness. Discussing moral capitalism as the only system that can truly counter poverty, tyranny, and the needs of individuals and nations alike, Moral Capitalism is an impressive and strongly recommended collection of ideas, ideals, and real, useable principles, as seen through the eyes of a prosperous businessman striving to balance public good with the corporate bottom line.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on July 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The corporate scandals of recent years have led to much hand wringing about corporate values. Now comes Stephen Young, head of the Caux Round Table - an international network of executives focused on corporate responsibility - with simple rules for turning the hand wringing into action. Some of Young's advice seems to be common sense: Tell the truth, for instance, and follow the law. By encouraging capitalists to go beyond following the letter of the law, Young offers a useful guide to ethical decision making. At times, though, he seems to give capitalists a free pass. For instance, Young argues that moral capitalists have little responsibility to withhold harmful products such as cigarettes and liquor from consumers who want to buy them. We recommend this easy-to-digest study to anyone intrigued by the ethical implications of capitalism. The book is a useful presentation of the argument that capitalism, the most powerful economic system in history, must balance might and right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Guido on July 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent treatment of human behavior in ethical situations. Discusses the "origin" of ethics. Shows it is possible (and often occurs) to be ethical in a capitalist business world.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nick Veltjens on August 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A book of tremendous importance. Communism committed suicide, and Capitalism needed the rescue this read can provide. Individuals, business leaders, educators, governments, economists plus some others can get extremely valuable guidelines here in how to steer the world to a safer and more enriching destiny, if they listen to the Caux Round Table's 7 principles.

I have already recommended it to some important people in my reach (and beyond)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Book shipped on time as described, good synopsis of Moral state of society etc. Dr. Young knows of which he speaks.
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