Research on a New Approach to Management (I)

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At present, Busi­ness and Man­age­ment is going through an evo­lu­tion­ary tran­si­tion.  Glob­al­i­sa­tion of busi­ness has added new com­plex­i­ties and prob­lems which require a fresh syn­the­sis.  Ethics, val­ues, ecol­ogy, qual­ity, cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, inno­va­tion, bal­anc­ing the needs of local cul­tures with global real­i­ties are some of the dif­fi­cult issues fac­ing multi­na­tional busi­ness.  In the human dimen­sion, an increas­ing num­ber of peo­ple in the cor­po­rate world, espe­cially the cre­ative and tal­ented, are seek­ing some­thing more than money and career, an inner ful­fil­ment in the men­tal, moral or spir­i­tual spheres.  This is the con­text which cre­ates the need for a new approach to Man­age­ment which can lead to an inte­gral ful­filment of all these trends of the future.  To evolve such a new vision of man­age­ment is one of the aims of our research activ­i­ties in this field.  In this arti­cle we try to bring out the spirit behind our research activ­i­ties in man­age­ment, not with a nar­rowly man­age­r­ial focus, but in a broader per­spec­tive of build­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing a vision and as a part of sadhana.(1)

Towards a More Integral Approach

The well-known management guru Peter Drucker, always prophetic and perceptive, has thrown some luminous hints which may perhaps provide us with some clues to a new approach to Management.  In one of his definitions of Management, Peter Drucker says : “Management… deals with people, their values, their growth, and development, social structure, the community and even with spiritual concerns.”(2)  This gives an indication of the main factors which will shape global business and management of the future…. people, values, growth and development or evolution and spirituality.  But Drucker is also perceptive enough to understand the fact that Globalisation will not make the local or national realities irrelevant.  He writes : “If management does not leverage the specific cultural heritage of a country and people, social and economic development is unlikely to take place.”(3)  As the anti-globalisation activists and the NGO movements have repeatedly emphasised, what is now called as “globalisation” in business is still predominantly a Western cultural phenomenon driven by its own values. So, any attempt to impose this west­ern­ised glob­al­ism uni­formly on all nations or com­mu­ni­ties, ignor­ing or sup­press­ing the unique cul­tural envi­ron­ment and her­itage of the nation or com­mu­nity, is not likely to be suc­cess­ful or effec­tive in the long run.

The new management paradigm of the future has to be at once global and national, spiritual and secular.  However, we use the word “global” in a deeper and broader perspective rather than the meaning given to it in modern business philosophy.  The global means for us integral and universal.  Integral means that which embraces all the four dimensions of the individual and collective life of man — physical, vital, mental and spiritual.  Universal means an approach based on what is called in ancient Indian thought as Dharma, universal laws of life in all the four dimensions which we have mentioned before.  But this global approach will not exclude the local and national environment.  It has to be sufficiently national to unleash the unique creative genius of the local population.

But the primary and predominant emphasis of our integral-global approach will be on the spiritual dimension.  This is because, we believe the spiritual is the foundation of our being and life and is the source of our highest perfection and fulfilment.  We also believe that future evolution of humanity will be predominantly an inner spiritual evolution towards a higher consciousness beyond the Mind.

And finally our approach will embrace the secular life of man because our conception of spirituality, and the spirituality of the future, will not be a negative or exclusive spirituality which denies the worldly life; it will be a world-embracing spirituality which will attempt to illumine and uplift every activity of human life to a deeper and higher level of consciousness.  We accept all the values given by modern secular humanism like liberty, equality, fraternity and progress but we will give them a deeper spiritual significance.  In our research on Management, we have made an attempt to explore the future of business and management in this perspective in the light of an integral spiritual vision.

The Yogic Paradigm

The pragmatic core of our approach to Management is Yoga.  The word “Yoga” has now become well-known all over the world, but the deeper psychological, evolutionary and pragmatic significance of this great science of ancient India is not fully understood.  By the word Yoga we mean neither the physical asanas of hatha-yoga nor an exclusively spiritual approach based on a world-denying contemplation on the Absolute.  By Yoga we mean a path or discipline by which we can raise our consciousness from the ego-centric mind with Reason as the highest faculty to an egoless and universal consciousness of our own highest spiritual self with higher faculties beyond Reason.  Yoga is also the process by which this ascent to the higher consciousness can be realized through a path of conscious and accelerated psychological and spiritual evolution.  Our strategic vision of Management will be based on the principles of this evolutionary paradigm of Yoga.  Our aim is to create an organizational culture which leads to the integral development of the individual and the collectivity but with an emphasis on the inner psychological and spiritual development of the individual through Yoga.  By psychological development we mean the developments of the faculties of knowledge, feeling, action and also the ethical, aesthetic and ideal mind which seeks higher values like truth, beauty and goodness.  By spiritual development we mean awakening the spiritual self beyond the psychological.

Our pre­dom­i­nant stress will be on the devel­op­ment of the indi­vid­ual.  Devel­op­ment of the col­lec­tiv­ity has to be achieved by ensur­ing that what­ever inner devel­op­ment the indi­vid­ual realises in his con­scious­ness is chan­nelled into his outer life, in work, life, action, rela­tion­ships, andin the eco­nomic, social, polit­i­cal and cul­tural life of the orga­ni­za­tion, so that there is a par­al­lel and simul­ta­ne­ous devel­op­ment of the indi­vid­ual and the collectivity.

Our ideal is Integral Prosperity.  Modern economic systems and sciences like business or management are concerned mainly with outer prosperity.  This is a legitimate aim of economics and for a business organisation which is part of the economic life of the community.  But the main problem here is that outer prosperity is pursued rather exclusively and at the expense of the inner well-being and progress of the individual and the collectivity.  The yogic approach to Management will strive to correct this imbalance; it will aim towards integral prosperity which means inner as well as outer prosperity.

Inner prosperity means a rich and harmonious development of all the faculties and powers of the human being from the lowest physical to the highest spiritual.  When this inner prosperity is channelled harmoniously and integrally into the outer life and every activity of the outer life, it will lead to an outer prosperity which will be of a much higher quality than the one created by modern corporate culture.

The prosperity of modern nations and the corporate world is the result of a highly developed scientific, technological and pragmatic mind of the community expressing itself in the outer life.  Development of this part of the human mind is a part of the ideal of integral prosperity.  But in the modern economic and corporate culture, the other and higher faculties like the ethical, aesthetic and spiritual do not find sufficient opportunity and encouragement for self-expression.  In our yogic approach we will give equal opportunity and encouragement to the development and self-expression of these higher faculties.  This will lead to a higher quality of corporate life which will be suffused with the creative vision and values of the ethical, aesthetic and spiritual powers of the human being.  Thus in our approach to Management, the inner development and fullness of the individual will be the foundation, and the outer progress and prosperity will be a spontaneous expression of this inner progress and fullness.(4)

   Reference:

    1. Yoga-sadhana means an inner psychological and spiritual discipline pursued for the realisation of the spiritual aims of yoga
    2. Quoted from an article on Peter Drucker in an Indian daily, The Hindu
    3. ibid
    4. Those who are interested in a more detailed discussion of our yogic approach to Management may refer to the following articles by the author in Journal of Human Values, published by the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

        a. Business and the Future : Towards a New Paradigm based on Yoga, 10:1,2004
        b. Organisational Development : A Yogic Vision, 11:2,2005