Monday, June 23, 2014

SEMCO Business Model and Catholic Social Thought: A bibliography

Last year I read the book by Ricardo Semler about his company, SEMCO.  The book is entitled, Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace.  After reading the book, I said to myself: "Wow.  This man has applied the principles of Catholic Social Teachings to his own business." I wrote a short article about this months ago: Book Review of Ricardo Semler's "Maverick": The glory of a company is man fully alive. When I heard from a friend that the 9th International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Business Education: Prosperity, Poverty, and the Purpose of Business will be held next year in the Philippines, I realized that this may be a wonderful opportunity to study SEMCO in more detail in the light of Catholic Social Thought.

I have been reading lots of business books for more than a year now--books on management, marketing, copy writing, advertising, graphic design, and many others.  I usually have a budget for two business books a month.  This is the main reason why I made a separate blog for my business interests: Quinori Business Blog.  In that blog I try to apply all the theories I read in books by studying how actual businesses processes through personal observations as a customer.  I already have several articles in that blog, with Rebranding the Filipino domestic helper as home manager: a response to a textbook depiction in Hong Kong as the most read article.

So I guess this business background, albeit in theory, coupled with my deep interest in our Catholic Faith, compels me to submit an abstract to this conference.  As my boss always tells me: "The worst that they can do is to say, 'No'."  But before I submit an abstract, I need first to make a survey of related literature to see if other authors have done similar studies of SEMCO in the light of Catholic Social Thought.  Below is my bibliographic list together with my comments.  Note that I shall only list those whose full papers are freely available:


1. Semco & Freys: A multiple-case study of workplace democracy

"This case study aims to find out what characterizes the Brazilian company Semco and the Swedish company Freys hotels as private owned democratic companies, and whether the mechanisms used to apply and carry on the democratic process are sufficient or not to truly make the workplaces democratic. The way this study is conducted, is by analyzing the definition of workplace democracy and its managerial approaches. To be able to map and study the democratic process in the companies, the authors chose to analyze the parts of the organization that sustain democracy. These parts are structure, information/communication process, individuals and decision-making. The theories applied, are theoretical thoughts and definitions of the managerial approaches (empowerment and participation) used to introduce democracy at the workplace. In addition a political framework for analyzing democracy is used. Five previous studies were also highlighted in the theory chapter, in order to reinforce the authors’ choice of theories and give a broaden understanding of the subject studied in this essay. For analysis, seven hypotheses characterizing a democratic company and the use of workplace democracy were tested. The analysis was carried out using collected primary and secondary data from books, articles, interviews and inquiries with employees from Semco and Freys Hotels. Another interview was conducted with Professor Carl Von Otter at the National Institute for WorkDemocracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism tring Life, who explained the meaning of a democratic corporation..."

2. Alternative Organizational Design and Its Impact on the Future of Work

"The second exemplar is maverick Ricardo Semler (1993, 2004), the CEO of Brazilian marine equipment factory SEMCO. His rotating, concentric circle organizational design not only saved his failing company and his failing personal health but also spawned a dozen or so subsidiaries all of whom epitomize employee empowerment. SEMCO, decades later, is still a major player in several industries – a testament to their unique, forward-thinking organizational architecture. How soon will other companies start to follow suit? What conditions are necessary to create these revolutionary redesigns? How will alternative organizational design affect the way we work? These questions, as well as Peter Drucker’s prediction that the future organization will be patterned after symphony orchestras, and Cloke and Goldsmith’s (2002) “organizations as organisms” designs (originally introduced by Morgan, 1997, the metaphor master), will be expounded and explored."

3. Non-linear Thinking and Humanistic Management: ViewsColombia against high GINI Index in Colombia

"Joâo Vendramim, partner and former counselor of the Brazilian company SEMCO, acknowledged that 100 years ago slavery was seen as ‘normal’, but today almost nobody will frame it as acceptable. His vision is that in 10 to 20 years command & control Submission number: 15161 2 management techniques—Theory X—would be seen as unacceptable too1 .SEMCO is one of the 19 companies selected2 by the Humanistic Management Network as best practices of companies that puts human at the center of their business while having good financial returns (von Kimakowitz et. al., 2010). These companies probably are part of a global group of the most sustainable ones."

4. Lessons from Oz: balance andwholeness in organizations

"Robbins (1992) suggests how a balanced firm might look with semi-autonomous units of limited size, minimal coercive pressures, recognition of error as a source of learning and other characteristics.  The Brazilian firm, Semco, which fits many of these characteristics, went from near financial disaster in 1980 to a position as Brazil's largest food-process machinery manufactureer and one of Brazil's fastest growing companies in 1988 and, despite recent difficulties in Brazil, continues to thrive (Semler, 1989, 1995). Spirituality seems based more on questions than on proscriptive answers--the normative purpose of business is profit.  If we choose to develop more spiritual organizations, we must use multiple criteria such as those suggested in Ackoffs model and develop organizational designs which support such criteria.  This new paradigm contains many of the features of the Oz story in which all the characters have an awakening."

 5. Why My Former Employees Still Work for Me

"Ever since I took over the company 12 years ago, Semco has been unorthodox in a variety of ways. I believe in responsibility but not in pyramidal hierarchy. I think that strategic planning and vision are often barriers to success. I dispute the value of growth. I don’t think a company’s success can be measured in numbers, since numbers ignore what the end user really thinks of the product and what the people who produce it really think of the company. I question the supremacy of talent, too much of which is as bad as too little. I’m not sure I believe that control is either expedient or desirable. I don’t govern Semco—I own the capital, not the company—but on taking over from my father, I did try to reconstruct the company so that Semco could govern itself on the basis of three values: employee participation, profit sharing, and open information systems. We’ve introduced idiosyncratic features like factory-floor flextime, self-set salaries, a rotating CEO-ship, and, from top to bottom—from the owner to the newest, greenest maintenance person—only three levels of hierarchy. You might say that what we practice is an extreme form of common sense: “common” because there’s nothing we do that thousands of other people didn’t think of ages ago, “extreme” because we actually do it. Another way of looking at Semco is to say that we treat our employees like responsible adults. We never assume that they will take advantage of us or our rules (or our lack of rules); we always assume they will do their level best to achieve results beneficial to the company, the customer, their colleagues, and themselves. As I put it in an earlier article in HBR, participation gives people control of their work, profit sharing gives them a reason to do it better, information tells them what’s working and what isn’t."


I guess these are all for now.  I haven't yet seen an article relating SEMCO's business models to Catholic Social Thought.  But it is interesting to note that Ang Kapatiran Party (Alliance for the Common Good), the political party that I support, had incorporated some principles of Catholic Social Thought in their Passport to a New Philippines:

6. Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers. The economy must serve people, not vice versa. Work is a form of continuing participation in God’s act of creation. Work is a way of fulfilling part of our human potential given to us by God. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers, owners and managers must be respected – the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to economic initiative, and ownership and private property.

7. Solidarity. Because of the interdependence of all members of the human family around the globe, we have a moral responsibility to commit ourselves to the common good at all levels: in local communities, in our nation, in the community of nations. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be.

8. Subsidiarity. It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry (Pope Pius XI, Quadregesimo Anno). The principle of subsidiarity holds that the functions of government should be performed at the lowest level possible, as long as they can be performed adequately. Otherwise stated, subsidiarity means decisions being taken close to the grass roots.

9. Common Good. The common good is the “sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and easily.” 17 (#74 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.) “The principle of the common good, to which every aspect of social life must be related if it is to attain its fuller meaning, stems from the dignity and equality of all people. The common good is the reason that political community exists. The State is an expression of civil society, and as such must guarantee its unity, coherency and organization in order that the common good may be attained.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.) Elements of the Common Good: a) respect for, and promotion of, the fundamental rights of the person; b) prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; and c) the peace and security of the group and its members. (#1925, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

So what I shall do in my proposed paper is to analyze SEMCO's business model in the light of Catholic Social Teaching as summarized by the Ang Kapatiran Party.
Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace
Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace
The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works
The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works
Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism
Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism
The Cooperative Workplace: Potentials and Dilemmas of Organisational Democracy and Participation (American Sociological Association Rose Monographs)
The Cooperative Workplace: Potentials and Dilemmas of Organisational Democracy and Participation (American Sociological Association Rose Monographs)
The Practice of Management
The Practice of Management
Organization Theory and Design
Organization Theory and Design
Productive Workplaces: Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century
Productive Workplaces: Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century
The Power of Symbols Against the Symbols of Power: The Rise of Solidarity and the Fall of State Socialism in Poland
The Power of Symbols Against the Symbols of Power: The Rise of Solidarity and the Fall of State Socialism in Poland
Global Perspectives on Subsidiarity (Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice)
Global Perspectives on Subsidiarity (Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

9th International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Business Education: Prosperity, Poverty, and the Purpose of Business

Call for Papers: Prosperity, Poverty, and the Purpose of Business
Call for Papers: Prosperity, Poverty, and the Purpose of Business

Call for Papers

PROSPERITY, POVERTY AND THE PURPOSE OF BUSINESS


February 26-28, 2015

Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, De La Salle-College of St. Benilde

Proposal Format

Please send a two-page, single-spaced proposal that includes the following:
  • thesis/purpose
  • outline of paper
  • one paragraph biography that includes institutional position and affiliation, recent publications, research interests, practical experience
Send proposals by July 1, 2014, preferably electronically, to:

Michael J. Naughton at cathsocial@stthomas.edu
John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Ave., 55S
St. Paul, MN 55105-1096 USA

Topics

  • Utilizing the Vocation of the Business Leader (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace [PCJP], 2012) document, we encourage papers to address the relationship of poverty and prosperity with three basic goods of business: good goods, good work, and good wealth.
  • Theological and philosophical inquiries into the Catholic social tradition as well as other religious and philosophical traditions addressing poverty, prosperity and business.
  • Pedagogical/Institutional: While we hope all the papers will have pedagogical implications for higher education, we are also looking for explicit mission-driven curricular materials, processes, models and ideas that examine poverty, prosperity and business.
Papers that are accepted and presented at the conference will be open to a referee process for a special issue in the Journal of Catholic Social Thought.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy: Supplement
Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy: Supplement
Catholic Social Thought: The Documentary Heritage
Catholic Social Thought: The Documentary Heritage
Church, State, and Society: An Introduction to Catholic Social Doctrine (Catholic Moral Thought)

Corpus Christi and Transubstantiation: Food photos, Japanese fake foods, vegetarian dishes, and dog's meat

A. Corpus Christi and Transubstantiation

Today we celebrate Corpus Christi Sunday.  In this feast we honor Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament.  The basis for this feast is the Dogma of Transubstantiation:
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."206 1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.207
St. Aquinas explains this in more detail in his Summa Theologiae:
I answer that, The presence of Christ's true body and blood in this sacrament cannot be detected by sense, nor understanding, but by faith alone, which rests upon Divine authority. Hence, on Luke 22:19: "This is My body which shall be delivered up for you," Cyril says: "Doubt not whether this be true; but take rather the Saviour's words with faith; for since He is the Truth, He lieth not." Now this is suitable, first for the perfection of the New Law. For, the sacrifices of the Old Law contained only in figure that true sacrifice of Christ's Passion, according to Hebrews 10:1: "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things." And therefore it was necessary that the sacrifice of the New Law instituted by Christ should have something more, namely, that it should contain Christ Himself crucified, not merely in signification or figure, but also in very truth....He promises us His bodily presence as a reward, saying (Matthew 24:28): "Where the body is, there shall the eagles be gathered together." Yet meanwhile in our pilgrimage He does not deprive us of His bodily presence; but unites us with Himself in this sacrament through the truth of His body and blood. Hence (John 6:57) he says: "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him." Hence this sacrament is the sign of supreme charity, and the uplifter of our hope, from such familiar union of Christ with us.
After consecration, what we see as bread is not anymore bread thought it appears, tastes, and feels like bread: the appearance remains but the substance has changed.

B. What Transubstantiation Is

Transubstantiation may be difficult to understand.  So let us give examples that would help us understand this concept:

1.  Food Photos

In Facebook you usually see photos of food.  The food looks real.  You can see the meat, vegetables, bread, rice, plates, and utensils.  But it is not really food.  It is just light from the computer screen that can be decomposed into RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) tiny light sources the size of pixels.  In this case, the substance of the food has changed and was transformed to light pixels.

2.  Japanese Fake Foods

The Japanese are inventive people.  Food displayed for customers normally grow stale after a few hours.  So what the Japanese did is to is to make fake foods:
Plastic food replicas appear in the windows and display cases of establishments which serve food throughout Japan. Once made from wax, today they are usually made out of plastic.[1] The plastic models are mostly handmade from polyvinyl chloride and carefully sculpted to look like the actual dishes.[2] The models are custom-tailored to restaurants and even common items such as ramen will be modified to match each establishment's food.[3] During the molding process, the imitation ingredients are often chopped up and combined in a manner similar to actual cooking. The craftsmanship has been raised to an art form. Japanese plastic food by the Maizuru Company was exhibited at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in 1980.[3] Regular competitions are held in making fake food dishes out of plastic and other materials. The food displays are called sampuru (サンプル?), derived from the English word "sample". (Wikipedia: Fake Food in Japan)
The fake foods look like food from all angles, but they don't smell and touch like real food.  And, of course, you can't eat them.  In this case, the substance of food has changed and has turned into plastic.

3. Vegetarian Dishes

Vegetarians like Seventh Day Adventists do not eat meat.  So many times they used soya-based substitutes.  The other ingredients are the same, except for the meat.  So the tastes provide a good approximations of the real thing, but you still know that you are eating soy.  In this case, the substance of the food has changed because the meat is actually soy.

4.  Dog's Meat

When I was young, I found a food left in the cupboard.  It looks like caldereta to me--something like beef in tomato sauce.  I ate it and enjoyed it with rice.  Then my brother came.  And he told me that what I am eating is actually dog's flesh.  I nearly vomited and wont' eat anymore.  In this case, the substance of the food has changed: the substance of beef has been replaced by dog's flesh.

5. Transubstantiation of the Sacred Host

We have seen different examples of food transubstantiations, each one progressing in deceiving our senses: sight, smell, taste, touch--and maybe even hearing, too, for you can hear yourself chewing the food.  But the transubstantiation in the Sacred Host is far superior: all our five senses testify that what before us is just ordinary bread baked without yeast and pressed into little cakes. But the truth is, it is not anymore bread, though it appears, feels, and tastes like bread.  Rather, the substance of bread has been transformed into the substance of Christ.

Let us end this article with a quote from St. Aquinas's hymn for the Feast of Corpus Christi:
Tantum ergo Sacramentum Veneremur cernui: Et antiquum documentum Novo cedat ritui: Præstet fides supplementum Sensuum defectui. 
(Hence so great a Sacrament Let us venerate with heads bowed [cernui] And let the old practice [documentum] Give way to the new rite; Let faith provide a supplement For the failure of the senses.) (Wikipedia: Tantum Ergo)
Cross Monstrance with Luna
Cross Monstrance with Luna
Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture
Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture
Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Gilles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham
Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Gilles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Food Photography & Lighting: A Commercial Photographer's Guide to Creating Irresistible Images
Food Photography & Lighting: A Commercial Photographer's Guide to Creating Irresistible Images
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
Fake Food. Shrimp Wonton with Noodles.
Fake Food. Shrimp Wonton with Noodles.
Vegetarian for a New Generation: Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us
Vegetarian for a New Generation: Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us
Mama Sita's Caldereta Spicy Sauce Mix, 1.76 Ounce (Pack of 72)
Mama Sita's Caldereta Spicy Sauce Mix, 1.76 Ounce (Pack of 72)