Burgeoning entrepreneurship lies at the heart of the rising economic and political powers in the world today. In part this reflects their experience that enterprise can help create value that alleviates poverty and enhances human wellbeing. The mental models associated with this development are increasingly influenced by spiritual and moral visions that reflect the rise of religion, especially Christianity. Indeed, research on Christian entrepreneurship in developing and emerging economies by Dr Peter Heslam (University of Cambridge and OCCC Visiting Fellow at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford) and Prof Eric Wood(Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town) on behalf ofTransforming Business (University of Cambridge) suggests that Christian faith and ethics are at work in the global economy and that they find there a range of practical applications that escape the attention not only of secular commentators but also of scholars of religion, theologians, seminaries and churches.
Partly against this background, the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture (OCCC) at Regent’s Park College is establishing a new project called the Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative (ELI) . that will be directed by Dr Peter Heslam, who has been appointed a Fellow of OCCC. It will focus on the positive potential of socially and environmentally responsible leadership in business and its implications for leadership in other spheres. Special attention will be given to the role of worldviews, aspirations, and ethics, particularly those inspired and informed by Christian faith. It will actively involve a network of distinguished leaders in politics, business, and academia, who will fully support the project’s standards of excellence and its non-sectarian, non-partisan, inter-disciplinary Christian basis and approach.
In this undertaking, ELI will provide an institutional and operational base in Oxford for the newly formed Marketplace Institute, which already has such a base at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. Founded partly in response to the moral outrage precipitated by the financial crisis of 2008, MI seeks to operate on two distinct but related levels. Firstly, to serve as a prophetic voice to economic systems and institutions; and secondly to empower and equip lay believers to be pro-active and intentional in relating their faith to their workplace situations. Directing MI in the fulfillment of these aims is MI’s Dean, Dr Kenneth Barnes, who has a background in business as well as in academia and has been appointed a Visiting Fellow at OCCC. He is assisted in this task by MI’s Associate Dean Kara Martin.
ELI (henceforth taken to include MI) is working with other partners to organize lectures, symposia, publications and awards, all at the intersection of business, faith and development (illustrated by the space at the centre of the 3 rings image at the top of the page). The aim is to help stimulate, inform and resource a new generation of thinkers and doers to use their gifts in the fight against poverty in all its forms (material, relational and spiritual included), whether in developing, emerging, or developed economies. ELI is in its start-up phase but support already forthcoming for the plans suggest that ELIhas the potential, as part of the OCCC, to contribute to Regent’s efforts to build a world class academic community that acts as a resource for churches and wider society, as well as for students and scholars. It also plans to contribute to the University of Oxford’s aim to stay at the forefront of learning, teaching and research. More broadly, ELIrepresents an opportunity to engage in discovery and dissemination of real significance to human flourishing in the context of great challenge and uncertainty in the global economy.
ELI is entirely dependent on individual donations. These are quick and easy to make; please click here to give to ELI. The full amount of your donation goes to ELI without any deductions.
Further information is available from ELI’s Director, Dr Peter S Heslam OCCC Visiting Fellow, Regent’s Park College (University of Oxford) & Director of Transforming Business (University of Cambridge).