I’m taking my first business class at Notre Dame this semester (Entrepreneurial Insights, a 1-credit course), and it’s given me a greater appreciation for Business that I, as a liberal arts major, did not have before.
What’s struck me is that the Mendoza College of Business — at least from what I’ve seen — is very, if not outwardly so, Catholic. And it got me thinking: It makes sense that America’s #1 Business School is Catholic. Because Catholics have values that often can lead to success in the business world. Here are some of those values:
1) Ethics: Business is all about reputation. No one wants to deal with a person who is shady or untrustworthy, but everyone wants to deal with someone who is upright and has concern for others. Ethics play a huge part in that.
Notre Dame thrives at fostering business ethics in her students because as Catholics, we’re taught to keep the bigger picture in mind. It’s important that we uphold our integrity and stay true to our values; temporary material gain is never the final goal.
2) Risks: In business, you have to take risks. Otherwise, you will never succeed. Catholics, too, are called to take risks. Risk-taking, to an extent, is the ultimate sign of trust in God. It’s the realization that God gave us certain gifts, that we are called to risk and grow those gifts ad majorem Dei gloriam, and that divine Providence will guide us to where we’re meant to be.
Consider the Parable of the Talents. The master punishes the servant who was too scared to invest his money. But he rewards the two servants who took the risk of investment.
3) Opportunity Recognition: You have to recognize and take advantage of opportunities in business. Catholics thrive at this because from the cradle we are taught the skill of opportunity-recognition — specifically, recognizing the opportunity for grace. God placed us on this earth so that we can bring His presence to others and so that we can grow closer to Him (through a good deed, through an expression of concern, through a prayer). It is our job to be ever-attuned to these opportunities for God’s grace.
4) Growth: Catholics love growth. The Church has been growing all over the world for 2 millennia. Catholic families are some of the biggest you’ll see around. There’s a joy and hope in Catholicism that makes us want to share it with as many people as we can, and that’s why the Church keeps growing.
Business, too, seeks growth — expanding influence, expanding client base, expanding the infrastructure. The Catholic businessman would be well-served to carry this enthusiasm for growth from the chapel over into the office.
5) Social Concern: Businessmen need to be attuned to people’s needs. A business has no purpose if it’s not somehow serving the people; all the time, successful business arise when entrepreneurs recognize that society has a need.
Catholics, too, are taught to respond to the needs of others. There’s a recognition that we are not born for ourselves alone, that our lives should in part be dedicated to improving the lives of others.
Those are some of my thoughts. Do you (dis)agree with this list? Am I overstretching some of the comparisons? Any additional items you think should be added?