Agapè in Companies

This project investigates how the classic concept of agapè can help companies to focus on the prosperity of people

For the transition to a sustainable, inclusive economy, it is essential that companies no longer focus exclusively on economic growth. Companies must find a new balance between economic growth, sustainable development and people’s well-being.

The term agapè can help with this. Agapè is a term from classical times and a core concept for the Goldschmeding Foundation. It means that you are focused on the flowering of fellow human beings for their own sake.

Characteristics of agapè
In this project, researchers from the School of Business and Economics (SBE) from Maastricht University, how characteristics of agapè are currently used in Dutch business. To this end, the scientists analyze concepts related to agape, such as corporate social responsibility and the meaning economy.

The researchers are also conducting a survey among 450 companies about the extent to which elements of agape are applied in business practice. In addition, they are investigating at eight companies what deeper meaning agape has for their business operations.

Research results – The study examined eight companies from four sectors, with a family business and a non-family business in each sector being examined. How can you have an eye for the well-being of others and implement this in practice? Practice shows that managers and employees of companies actively and sincerely promote the well-being of others. By looking at the needs of employees, customers, shareholders and society, you show a human face and you are enabled to create innovative solutions. As Geanne van Arkel, Interface’s head of sustainable development, says: “If you don’t contribute to solving social or sustainable issues, what is your right to exist as a company?”

The Goldschmeding Foundation wants to use the insights to make this thinking part of the business operations of companies, for example by setting up networks of companies that want to use this.

»Download the white paper

Photos: Maastricht University and Ed van Rijswijk

Prof. dr. Harry Hummels Professor of Ethics, Organizations and Society at Maastricht University