August 3, 2010
By Andrew Seidman
WASHINGTON — Religious leaders and scholars are clamoring for more corporate accountability in the wake of what they call the destruction of God's creation in the Gulf of Mexico, and they may have found a partner in their battle cry: the American business school.
"Look at the Gulf disaster — no one has questioned the core value system that BP used to cut corners with that rig out in the Gulf; namely, the race to maximize profits at all costs," said Mark Wallace, a professor of religious studies at Swarthmore College. "That's the religion of our time . . . the fundamental worldview that animates our common life together."
Eco-religious scholars such as Wallace aren't calling for the erosion of capitalism. Rather, they envision a nuanced form in which businesses also consider the well-being of communities and the environment in computing the bottom line. It's a system known as triple bottom line economics.
Business educators say they see no conflict in the approach — and expect the BP spill will soon be part of their curriculums as well.
"Without a doubt, it's feasible for companies to incorporate those values. Anyone who looks at this particular situation in hindsight is going to recognize that prudence is the best option," said Bruce Bullock, the director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business. "Good business and good environmental sense need not conflict."
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