n-30EoC Newsletter

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Economy of Communion - a new culture
n.30 - december 2009

 

 

 

 

 

The EoC and the challenges of the millenium

The EoC and the challenges of the millenium

by Alberto Ferrucci
from "Economy of Communion - a new culture " n.30 - december 2009

In 2000, the United Nations made a list of objectives for the third millenium: fight against hunger and the number of women who die giving birth, fight against AIDS and other pandemias, schools for all the children in the world, that sustainable development become a unbiquitous paradigm, free commerce and non-discriminatory finance systems.

It would seem that only the last two objectives are linked to economy, but in reality all of them depend on the lack of social structures and work – a good part of hopeful trips taken in our times are faced to bring one´s children to countries where food, health and instruction are guaranteed to all.

n28_pag._03_alberto_ferrucciTo be able to extend this guarantee to the whole would is a difficult objective to carry out without the spreading of a new culture. We believe that the culture inherent in the Charism of Unity would help scholars and politicians formulate concrete proposals on how to do so. The challenge is to identify the strategy to make this culture reach the whole of humanity.

However, when concrete proposals are formulated, we cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that they will be easily carried out. The financial crisis has left us as an inheritance an economy with growing purses, thanks to money at zero cost, in which the good proposals for developing an economy and finance that has more respect for man seem to fade.

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Giving Dignity to a Vocation

Giving Dignity to a Vocation
from "Economy of Communion - a new culture " n.30 - december 2009


“It´s necessary that the economy of communion
not limit itself to giving examples
of creating new businesses
inspired by it,
with a few comments
by who is more or less expert,
but rather, what is needed is that it become a science
with the participation
of economists who are prepared
and who know how to lay out
the theory and the practice,
comparing it with other
available economic scientists,
provoking not only graduate theses,
but schools from which many
can draw upon.

A true science that would give dignity
to who must show it with facts
and it means a true vocation
for who commitments himself to it
in any way”.

Chiara Lubich, Mariapoli Araceli, 7 May 1998

The Summer School

The Summer School

By Benedetto Gui
from "Economy of Communion - a new culture " n.30 - december 2009

N30_Benedetto_Gui_The proposal of a summer course on the Economy of Communion was launched thinking of a small group of young people, most likely scholars of various economic professions (students in doctorate programs, research fellows, university professors at the beginning of their career). In this way, it would be possible to present and systematically discuss the theoretical reflections developed over the years around the economy of communion project.

Evidently, many other people also shared the desire to spend four days studying and dialoging about the EOC project: upper-level university students, workers, directors, entrepreneurs and teachers - and not only people under 35. Not wanting to say no to whoever was very interested in this reflection between science and culture, we found ourselves amidst a group of 90. There were 13 from Brazil, 8 Argentineans, 2 Filipinos (some were already in Italy, like students of Sophia, but others came just for the occasion).  There were also 8 people from Slovakia, other Europeans, one from Palestine and many Italians. Their relationships with the Focolare Movement were also very diverse (ranging from those who are very active to less active, and for some it was their first contact with the movement).

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The Relationships of the EoC

Without a doubt, one of the EoC´s key words is “relationships”. Relational goods, reciprocity, gratuitousness, communion – these are all words that describe different ways to understand human relationships. In fact, the EoC can also be seen as a different culture of relationships.

The Relationships of the EoC 1

By Luigino Bruni
from "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

But what stands out about the relationships lived within the EoC in comparison with normal economic relationships?

N30_Luigino_Bruni_ridFrom a certain point of view, all economic life is a network of relationships - one that is always more thick, global and complex. Drinking coffee in the café below your apartment, making a telephone call, buying a book online, sending a letter to a friend – all are possible through the cooperation of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, and sometimes millions of people. In fact, the cooperative is the most typical kind of economic relationship, especially in the market economy. So our question soon becomes this: what kind of cooperation and, therefore, what kind of relationships?
First of all, we must remember that modern man has fulfilled the most vast and widespread cooperation known to the history of the planet during the evolutionary course of homo sapiens. From a certain point of view, it is undeniable that the market society has exponentially multiplied relationships between people, widening and enriching networks of cooperation.

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A crisis in the meaning of economy

There are two types of crises that can be identified in the history of our society: one is the “dialectic” crisis, and the other is the “entropic” crisis.

A crisis in the meaning of economy

By Stefano Zamagni

from "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.30 - December 2009
Zamagni_rid

A dialectic crisis arises from a fundamental conflict that takes shape within a determined society and that contains, within itself, the seeds or the forces to overcome itself. Historical and well-known examples of dialectic crises include the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Revolution of October in Russia, in 1917.

Instead, an entropic crisis is one that tends to make the system collapse, through implosion, without changing it.  This type of crisis developes whenever a society loses the sense (literally, the direction) of its own walk.

Why is such a distinction important?  Because the strategies for overcoming these two types of crisis are different. An entropic crisis is not overcome with technical adjustments, or only with legislative or regulatory provisions (which are necessary), but by facing the question of meaning straight on, by resolving it.

That is why prophetic minorities are indispensible. Through a supplement of thought, and above all through the testimony of works, this minority knows how to indicate the new direction towards which the society can move. That is what happened when Saint Benedict, launching his famous “work and pray”, inaugurated the new era of cathedrals.

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Communion Through the Net

The Economy of Communion´s International Site www.edc-online.org Grows!

Communion Through the Net

By Antonella Ferrucci
From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.30 - December 2009

 

N30_Antonella_FerrucciLast August 13, our website completed one year from when the renovated version went online. It was a small goal that we celebrated with those who have concretely collaborated and made the site a powerful instrument to spread the Economy of Communion.

Yes, because in this year, many relationships have been built, and results have been reached together.  We began timidly, having a renovated site but one that basically proposed the same content as the previous site. Then, a little at a time, the first pieces of news began arriving from the USA, from Slovakia, from Sicily... The event postings followed one after another, as did the first registrations on the site. Also, it has to be said that registering did not give any particular benefits. It was more like a sign of affection and appreciation for these pages that were “blossoming”.

 

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Businesses that meet over the web

The Economy of Communion´s Business to Business Website

Businesses that meet over the web

By John Mundell

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.30 - December 2009

john_mundell1Recently, a new website, www.edc-info.org, which goes alongside the international EoC website, www.edc-online.org, has begun in the United States in order to meet the needs of various countries and to allow EoC businesses to dialogue among each other. It is also aimed towards youth who wish to know more about the EoC and experience this new way of working. There are already 156 businesses from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croazia, Lussemburgo, Portugal, Serbia and the United States that have joined.

The site is managed by Ed and Eileen Johnston and allows B2B (Business to Business) communication, helping the EoC network to increase the exchange of knowledge and experiences, as well as foster business and production relationships among EoC businesses. Recently, the site has been placed at the service of the entire international EoC project.

Naturally, this means a shift between an experimental phase to a much more rigorous admissions procedure, in order to safeguard participants as much as possible from unwanted meddling, which unfortunately is not unheard on the web today.

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Trust and Participation in EoC Businesses

To be an EoC entrepreneur means becoming responsible for a dream: that of relieving situations of poverty near and far

Trust and Participation in EoC Businesses

By Maria Gabriella Baldarelli
From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

N30_Gabriella_BaldarelliThe desire to build or “convert” coherent businesses with the EoC project have notable repercussions within a business´s governance, in which the role of manager leaves space to a choral figure, in which everyone has his “active” role and is involved in the management of the business. In fact, the manager of an EoC business is he who involves and incentivates people, who manages through listening and sharing of human and business experiences. This helps creativity and self-control spring to its best.

Moreover, the EoC business acquires the capacity to share, with coherence and trust, its own business experience with other businesses, within or beyond the project, which allows it to survive and develop. In fact, this type of governance of a business, which is founded on the value of communion, not only allows the business to transmit trust and therefore create relational capital at all levels of business, but above all permits the diffusion of trust outside of the business, even in moments in which the business finds itself making choices that shape the future.

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Love Your Enemy

Love Your Enemy

By Germán M. Jorge
From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

N30_GermnI received a telephone call from the head of the cement-production business which is our largest competitor in the area, and he asked me if we could sell him a certain amount of cement because their other suppliers weren´t giving them any more credit.
It was obvious that they were going through a tough time, from a financial point of view, due to the break-up of a family business and the consequences this was creating.
I knew that the situation was serious, and I felt inside that the long-awaited moment had arrived: I had the chance to change history. This competitor played heavily against me in the market, and he´d even told other collegues that his mistake had been to let me raise my head.

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Raising Snails

Raising Snails

By Genevieve Sanze

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.30 - December 2009

N30_Genevieve_SanzeIn Africa, the Economy of Communion isn´t expressed through having many businesses, but the spirit that it has brought about is spreading a new culture, even thanks to youngest of the community.  During the war in the Ivory Coast, an 8-year-old girl at her Gen 4 meeting shared this experience: her uncle had given her a 100-Franc bill (CFA), which is about 20 Euro cents, which she was thinking of using to buy something good to eat. When she arrived home, however, she saw that her mother was very sad: she didn´t have anything to put on the table, which made the whole family very nervous.

She thought to go buy herself something to eat, but remembering how the Gen 4 had learned to "give always" and make our neighbor happy, too, she said to herself, "Why don´t I try?" So she decided to bring her small amount of money to her mother, who immediately ran happily to buy something at the market to make a meal for the whole family. That way, everyone was able to eat something and peace returned.

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Towards a Management of Communion

Paths of culture and organizational structure in EoC businesses

Towards Management of Communion

By Giampietro Parolin e Elisa Golin

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

 

"…We´re convinced that every moment of our social living, including all that is economic, must be “educated” by the values in which we believe.  That way, even the economy becomes a place for human and spiritual growth.

The Economy of Communion, therefore, does not present itself as a new way of doing business that is an alternative to those which already exist. Rather, it intends to transform regular business structures from within, whether being a shareholding-business, cooperative or other, placing all relationships within and outside of the business in the light of a lifestyle of communion. And all in full respect of authentic business and market values.”

Chiara Lubich - Laurea Honoris Causa in Economia - Piacenza 1999

N30_Parolin_GolinThe EoC brings a culture – the “culture of giving” – which is being always more enriched in economic theory and in the lives of the people and businesses that make it their own. From the launch of the project in 1991, this culture has driven scholars to devise a new way of thinking about the economy and business management. At the same time, the business ventures have experienced in business life those typical categories of the project. Words like gratuitousness, reciprocity and fratenity have begun to become real experiences that show seeds of a management of communion.

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The Art of Managing Crises in Organizations with Ideal Motives

The Art of Managing Crises in Organizations with Ideal Motives

By Alessandra Smerilli

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.30 - December 2009

N30_Alessandra_SmerilliInstrinsic movtivations are very important in civil life and also in economic life and organizations. If there exists, however, a place in which gratuitousness plays a special role, it´s that of “organizations with ideal motives” (OMI), an expression used today to indicate organizations – associations, NGOs, charitable organizations, businesses of the economy of communion, etc. – in which the inspiring motive (or what has inspired their constitutions) is neither primarily profit nor exclusively instrumental elements, but rather an ideal motive, a mission or a “vocation” that, in various ways, arises from the instrinsic motivations of its promoters.

The businesses of the Economy of Communion (EoC) can also be defined as OMIs. In fact, they represent an ideal-type, given the key role ideality plays in their identity.

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The EoC Culture in Brazil

The EoC Culture in Brazil

By Andréa Cruz

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

N30__Andra_CruzHow can this article attempt to talk about the EoC culture in Brazil? Because, broadly speaking, everything is culture: be it the real life of the project, that is, the businesses with an entire network of relationships that surge from the life of the organizations; the communion with those in economic need; and, naturally, cultural production - studies that look at the manifold theoretical approaches developed by classic and contemporary thinkers in various disciplines, and which then dialogue with these.

In this brief article, I´ll try to talk about this last kind of culture. First of all, an important note: you cannot talk about only one Brazil, because Brazil contains many “Brazils” in itself. What this article will focus on is that Brazil seen through the eyes of the “Filadélfía” Center of Studies, Research and Documentation, which is located in Mariapolis Ginetta, in Vargem Grande Paulista, State of Sao Paulo.

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Working in Communion in Times of Crisis

Working in Communion in Times of Crisis

By Silvano Gianti
From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N.30 - December 2009

N30_Silvano_GiantiThe businesses of the Eastern Riviera haven´t avoided the crisis which haunts the world economy. In the Tigullio district alone, there are almost 700 workshops belonging to fourteen businesses of various sectors, including seamanship, who are receiving the benefits of unemployment insurance.

The recent proposal of a territorial pact has been backed by the President of the Genovese Province and by the Councilor of Economic Development in the course of the “general state of things” with local companies, institutions and equivalent social groups promoted by the very same Province and Economic Society.  During the meeting, the administrators proposed “a concrete method for building a platform of shared initiatives, starting from the analysis of the situation, in order to respond to Tigullio´s crisis. Of course, all this is a consequence of the global crisis, owed to erroneous economical politics which are far from the real economy founded on work.”

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News from Polo Lionello

News from Polo Lionello

By Carla Pagliarulo

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

N30_Carla_PagliaruloOne-hundred days since her nomination, we interviewed the President of the Polo´s Administrative Council, Eva Gullo. “We´re at the beginning of this adventure,” said Gullo, “and it´s a challenge to meet, as each one has to travel to get here and has numerous commitments. But we´re very happy when we see each other. There’s a sense of responsibility towards the post received and commitment in doing all our small part for a project that transcends us. It´s necessary to invest time in generating true relationships of communion among us and to value the contribution each one has to make. This way, we can be one reality in our relationship with the Polo´s inhabitants.
From there, it will be possible to develop an always deeper communion among the entrepreneurs present at the Polo, between the shareholders and businesses, also in the businesses throughout Italy and their institutions. We must always have present is what Chiara Lubich told us: ´The EoC was born so that one day it would be able to give this example: a people where there is no one in need, no poor´.”

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The Economy of Communion and Global Justice

The EoC project represents a novelty in the economic field but also in politics and philosophy. In fact, it affronts crucial topics which are at the center of contemporary political philosophy.

The Economy of Communion and Global Justice

By Vittorio Pelligra

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

N30_Vittorio_Pelligra_3The most important work in political philosophy during the 1900´s is definitely A Theory of Justice (1971), by American philosopher John Rawls. As a point of reference for all who deal with political philosophy matters, even indirectly, the Rawlsian theory has naturally attracted a certain amount of criticism as well. It seems to me that two of these are worth addressing. I would like to discuss them here, above all because they relate problems of great theoretical and practical relevance to the Theory of Justice. Such a discussion will also allow us to begin to define a wide backdrop on which to consider what are, in my opinion, some of the more interesting characteristics of the Economy of Communion project.

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Loppiano Prima Becomes a Case Study

The Loppiano Prima Cooperative at the International Conference on “Catholic Social Thought and Management Education”

Loppiano Prima Becomes a Case Study

By Caterina Ferrone
From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009
N30_Caterina_Ferrone

On the occasion of the convention “The Good Company”, organized in Rome in 2006 by the Pontifical University of San Tommaso in Rome, in collaboration with Saint Thomas Catholic University of Minnesota, USA, a few professors decided to elaborate a  “Business Ethics” handbook for American university students. The book would present useful cases for studying the link between religious faith and business management.

Two EoC businesses were proposed among them: Mundell and Associates, an American businesses that works in the environmental sector, and the Italian cooperative of Loppiano Prima. The latter arose twenty years before the EoC project began, and Chiara herself defined it as “a foreshadow of the EoC businesses”. It grew together with the international small town of Loppiano, which strives to be a living example of the charism of unity and the Gospel message.

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Eleven New Dissertations on the EoC

Eleven New Dissertations on the EoC

By Antonella Ferrucci

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

n28_pag._11_antonella_ferrucciThere are 11 new theses which we want to present in this issue. Among these, five are undergraduate theses, one is a old-order four-year thesis, four are specializations and one is a doctorate thesis. The last is also the first thesis on the EoC to come from Russia. It is also the first time we have a Polish thesis. All the theses presented seem to have a similar main idea: that of relational goods and a new type of goverenance that becomes explicit for who lives the EoC in a radical way. Two theses analyze the very particular business case-study of the Tassano Consortium. One faces the original approach of the EoC towards poverty in  with respect to other economic models.

 

 

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The North Star of an EoC Business

Pathways of culture and organizational structure in EoC businesses

The North Star of an EoC Business

By Guiseppe Argiolas
From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

N30_Giuseppe_ArgiolasIf we take into consideration the evolution of management theories, what clearly emerges is how much their theoretical construction and operative practice were and are influenced by a very precise cultural perspective.  If a dominant “managerial model” has emerged in every historial period, there have also been exceptions which proposed innovative and in some ways alternative solutions.

The historical context in which we live, precisely because it is characterized by a profoundly critical situation, can be a priviledged moment to question the current dominating model, or more specifically, it can be a moment for authentic research of that which the business can and should be in its relationships with all persons and organizations which are in some way linked to it.

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What do social businesses suggest to the EoC?

In recent years, interest in the topic of “social entrepreneurship” has grown. The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize identified one of its charismatic leaders, Muhammad Yunus (in his last book, Yunus substitutes the term “micro credit” with “social business”).

What do social businesses suggest to the EoC?

By Luca Crivelli

From "Economy of Communion - a new culture" N. 30 - December 2009

crivelliWhile conscious of the difference between the North American and European visions of social entrepreneurship (embodied in particular in the European Research Network, EMES), what is happening on the two shores of the Atlantic cannot but suggest a few interesting paths for reflections, even to us who, on various fronts, are committed to making an economy of communion come to life (in this text, the Latin American experience is explicitly not mentioned, not because it is not significant but because of the author´s little knowledge of the characteristics of this experience there).

In both contexts, the starting point is represented by a shortage of resources, which was shown beginning in the 1980s. In the United States, philanthropic donations were no longer sufficient to guarantee the success of the non-profit sector. In Europe, it was the State-Providence crisis that mostly brought about a reduction in available funds to supply social services.

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Binari_rid_modThe Economy of Communion proposes the following "Guidelines for conducting a business", to productive organizations who adhere to its message and its culture, written in the light of the life and thought of thousands of entrepreneurs and workers....

The economy of giving

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«Unlike the consumerist economy, based on a culture of having, the economy of communion is the economy of giving.... 

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