The Bhagavad-Gita and Business Ethics: A Leadership Perspective

The Bhagavad-Gita and Business Ethics: A Leadership Perspective

Balakrishnan Muniapan (Wawasan Open University, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6441-8.ch018
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The study of ancient wisdom has recently become a subject of growing interest. During the past decade we have witnessed an increase in the amount of literature on applying ancient wisdom in the context of business leadership. In the Asian context, the ancient literature from India and China is pregnant with several lessons which are relevant and useful for business leadership. Among the literature from the Indian context, the Bhagavad-Gita is one of the most popular and most cited by many scholars and practitioners in the field of business leadership. However, based on a survey of business leadership literature from the Bhagavad-Gita, very few works are found on the pressing and important topic of business ethics. Therefore, in this chapter the author attempts to explore and incorporate the ethical principles found in the Bhagavad-Gita into business leadership. In presenting the business ethics from the Bhagavad-Gita, the author has employed hermeneutics, which is a qualitative methodology used for the interpretation of ancient literatures. The Bhagavad-Gita advocates a consciousness and a spirit-centered approach to the subject of business ethics based on eternal values and moral principles that should govern the conduct of business leaders. This chapter is likely to provide insights into Indian business ethics for Western business leaders, enabling them to work more effectively with Indian business leaders in India, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Western Europe and North America where there is a significant Indian population.
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1. Introduction And Objective Of This Chapter

Over the years, business ethics has become one of the major topics for discussion around the world due to many of the business scandals which took place not only in the Indian but throughout the world. In academic literatures, research chapters on various dimensions of business ethics have been written by several scholars. There are perhaps hundreds of research chapters written on business ethics in the Indian context and there is also an increasing number of literature on the Indian philosophy, business leadership and management from authors such as Chakraborty (1993; 1995; 1999), Chakraborty and Chakraborty (2008), Sharma (1996; 1998; 1999; 2002; 2003), Krishnan (2001, 2003), Kejriwala and Krishnan (2004), Satpathy (2006; 2007), Muniapan (2005; 2006; 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2014), Muniapan and Dass (2008; 2009), Muniapan and Satpathy (2010), Muniapan and Rajendran (2011), Muniapan and Low (2011), Low and Muniapan (2011), Muniapan and Satpathy (2013), Muniapan and Jalarajan (2014), Satpathy and Muniapan (2008), Satpathy, Muniapan and Dass (2013), Roka (2006), Parashar (2008) and others. These scholars have made studies based on the Vedic literatures1, Upanisads2, Ramayana3, the Mahabharata4, and the Arthashastra of Kautilya5.

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