Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) President David Wright recently wrote a book called How God Makes the World a Better Place.  The book explores how the Wesleyan heritage of spiritual development and the service to our neighbors (i.e., love God and love others) manifests in the marketplace.  Since most of our waking hours are spent at work, this is an essential domain to grow our faith and to practice it.

This sentiment was shared and practiced by the late Mr. Jim DeVoe, founder of J.D. Byrider, one of the nation’s leading solutions for affordable used car sales.  The DeVoe family graciously gave a gift to IWU leading to the naming of the business school.  Dr. Wright sought to honor the family’s gift and legacy by calling on the DeVoe School of Business (DSB) to take position as a global thought leader on excellence in business.  In response, the DSB has partnered with the Sagamore Institute to produce three white papers, which will release nationally on October 26, 2015.

The following abstracts will provide brief executive summaries of these papers.

The Virtuous Business

This paper describes the theological origins of understanding vocation and highlights best practices from IWU’s alumni in the marketplace today. The paper also widens the angle to consider the growing disenchantment nationally with capitalism and introduces virtuous business as the only antidote capable of restoring trust in the free market system.

Finally, the paper posits that the objective of becoming or remaining a virtuous business is the over-arching goal for a business.  It is always work in progress and is never totally achieved, but, an organization that steadfastly strives to be virtuous gains the greatest opportunity for longevity and provides the greatest benefit to society.  The goals of excellence in leadership and management, quality products, fair treatment and respect for customers and employees, and integrity are all a part of the striving for virtue in business.

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Financial Stewardship: A Matter of the Heart

This paper seeks to clarify one of the most important aspects of stewardship, the wise use of financial resources.  This can be both personal, as well as the financial resources of a business.  Recently, the Ron Blue Institute was opened at Indiana Wesleyan University with the purpose of becoming a thought leader in personal financial management using the principles expressed by Ron Blue.  These are capsulized in the phrase “live, give, grow, and owe” and this means that we should live on less than we earn, avoid the use of debt, build liquidity, set long-term goals and live generously.  While these pillars of financial stewardship were designed with individual financial management in mind, they also apply in the corporate setting.

Ultimately, this paper argues that wise stewardship must be the foundation of both personal and corporate financial decision making.  It is based on understanding that resources are not ours to use as we might decide, but provided by God.

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Educational Innovation

This paper submits that innovative Christian business education should demonstrate four distinctives: 1) It teaches relevant knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are required for students to be successful in a global labor market; 2) It is flexible, engaging, and gives students maximum choice over how and when they participate in the educational experience; 3) It creatively  implements best practice andragogy and pedagogy with modern technologies and educational tools to create an educational experience unique for each student and 4) It integrates faith into all elements of the discipline.  The key distinction is that a Biblical perspective guides the understanding of all aspects of business disciplines.

Lastly, the paper charges that Christian business schools have the obligation and privilege of teaching and advocating for virtue in all aspects of the business environment. Innovative business education must seek to equip students intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually to become effective citizens of a heavenly kingdom through becoming a world changer in whatever place the Lord has put them. This influence will go beyond the confines of a business, and as changes in the business environment occur, all of society will benefit.

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