Review: Doing Virtuous Business

I recently read Doing Virtuous Business: The Remarkable Success of Spiritual Enterprise and was disappointed. The book, by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, had the potential to be a great work looking at the various ways businesses have been successful while still leading through an ethical and virtuous approach. I thought this could be a more business-oriented book along the lines of Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership. While a decent book, it did not reach my hopeful ambition for it.

Cover for Doing Virtuous Business

The last half to two-thirds of the book was great. While not perfect and I question a couple of the companies highlighted. Wal-Mart, for example, was studied and, while I don’t intent to indict the company, their status as an ethical company is not held to be true across the board. Choice of example notwithstanding, the author examines the various virtues, how they are elements required for business success, then presents a case about a company that is arguably successful using that particular virtue.

That section, alone, would earn four stars.

The killer about this book, to me, was the overwritten defense of capitalism. I’m not a crazy hippy. I’m not against capitalism in the least. Of my social circle, I’m one of the, if not the, most entrepreneurial. I like making money and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, within certain boundaries.

The author spilled far too much ink trying to convince the reader that capitalism is next to Godliness. The defense was overdone to the point of turning me against his argument. Aspects of the first third of the book leaned far too close to a prosperity Gospel message, that is, the message that those who are faithful will be rewarded materially on Earth.

Quite frankly, if someone didn’t already accept capitalism, on some level, as morally acceptable, why would they read this book?

In fact, I was ready to stop reading the book. I am glad I kept going, though, as mentioned above, the later sections of the book were much more fulfilling.

I’ll average the section scores to give this a square two stars. My advice is to skip the defense and move straight to the virtues.

Material disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for this review. I was not, obviously, required to give a positive review. Additionally, links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that I’ll get a little change if you click on them and then buy the books mentioned.






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