We’re super excited to post our interview with Dr. Jaana Woiceshyn, author of the new book How to be Profitable and Moral: A Rational Egoist Approach to Business. It applies rational virtues through examples in business for a thorough chewing of the concepts to have your understanding rock solid and ready to apply. You can get it at Amazon.com (or .ca for those Canadians out there) in Hardcover or affordable Kindle eBook format (we receive a small commission if you buy through our link, just enough to keep the lights on). You can also check out the official website of the book.
“The bottom line, it has to be your self-interest”
Preview of the questions you’ll be able to hear answered: [order changed slightly during the interview]
What was your motivation for writing the book?
On your website you describe the book as a thinking manager’s guide to ethics that will lead to profits. Can you describe a little bit more your intended audience of thinking managers, for example, how general of an audience could it work for and then if it would fit for those more advanced in understanding rationality and accepting of general principles like the profit motive?
The Enhanced Case Method
In Business School including in Business Ethics, the topics are almost always taught using the so called case method, where a situation is given and possibly an ethical dilemma but generally the theory behind ethics is absent or light (in my MBA class there was only a very simplistic slide or two on frameworks). Students then are just expected to give their opinions, with “no right answers.” Your research paper on using cases not just as a discussion point but to teach moral reasoning is a different approach, one that you take in this book. Can you describe how your method enhances learning?
Occupy B-School – Attack on Business Education
In the era of attacks on business school existence in the press post financial crises, more ethics are often stated as what business needs, which may be right, but what is proposed are forms of altruism: corporate social responsibility, stakeholder value, environmentalism, etc. Can you describe where the alternative you propose, rational egoism, fits in?
Value of the Book
What is the value of this book for a manager who considers himself rational already? In the book you mention guarding against making mistakes? Is this clear articulation of the applications and “chewing” the concepts of the egoist virtues what enables better outcomes when situations are ambiguous or more difficult to sort out?
Profitable and Prideful
There are a lot of great examples of very “product focused” leaders taking great pride in the material output of their work from Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg to the main character in the older movie Executive Suite, or even Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. Their pride in creating something good seems to come first with profits as the result. This is in contrast to those who say they are focusing on profits first but really mean short term quarterly earnings not long term profit maximization. What is the connection between shareholder value maximization and individual productiveness and pride?
Profitable and Just
In your book, you warn against egalitarianism. How can a manager stand against legislative egalitarianism and cultural expectations of “fairness” to maintain a principled approach to justice?
Working for Multi-National Companies
How do you work for a large company with thousands of individuals how do you operate when not all people and policies mesh with your morals?
For example, There are very strict voluntary corporate codes of conduct as well as US laws, but bribes in foreign countries are still often the way of doing business. Is it ever moral to bribe government officials in other countries in order to step through the bureaucracy faster? Is it ever, immoral to do so?
What about when your employer pursues government stimulus funds?
Tools for Achieving Values
Our blog readers are those looking to achieve values in business by being more productive using reason. What tools do you offer in the book to help us achieve those values?