“Mount Nebo and the Social Contract with Business”….by Dr. Jopie Coetzee – (Guest Author)

Dr. Jopie Coetzee

Dr. Jopie Coetzee:  This gentleman is the second “guest author” for TIDBITS-of-WISDOM, and it is my honor and privilege for him to be a part of “spreading the Gospel in the Workplace.  It will take you about 7 minutes to read this article, but I believe it will be enlightening to you.  Please enjoy…..Blessings…cjlb…9/25/13

Coetzee holds a doctorate in business leadership from the University of South Africa, and is a writer in the social contract with business genre. He may be contacted at jopie@global.co.za

Today, he is a fulltime, and distinquished, writer in the social contract with business genre. He is based in Johannesburg; plants one tree for each page published; and, enjoys a Christian lifestyle.  His latest book THE SOCIAL CONTRACT WITH BUSINESS – BEYOND THE QUEST FOR GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY is about a business case capable of delivering on this poem from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then,
for the second time in the history of the world,
humanity will have discovered fire.

He is also a Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg.  As an International Business Executive, he has thirty years experience in strategy development and implementation across 25 countries on 5 continents with BHPBilliton plc.   As an International Business Academic, he has ten years experience in lecturing international business at the University of the Free State and the University of South Africa, where he earned a doctorate in business leadership.  Specialties:Member of the Institute of Directors: Southern Africa.  Mentor for business leaders and strategic project teams.  Talks/lectures on: the Social Contract with Business.  Manager of the LinkedIn Group “The Social Contract With Business”.


Mount Nebo and the Social Contract with Business

Jopie Coetzee


I am a Christian.

I am also an entrepreneur; executive; investor; engineer; scientist; technician; . . .

How do I apply the means of grace given to me in business?  Whilst grace is undeserved and it comes free, it’s not cheap. It commands a radical turn-around in all spheres of life. Bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit is testimony to a successful turn-around.  Hence, a new vocabulary in business that directs strategy and operations, namely:

Wisdom – to apply God’s word.

Love – to follow Jesus’ example.

Courage – to trust Holy Spirit’s guidance.

For applied wisdom, the business leader would ask ‘What is the truth in this situation?’ Once this has been established, the next logical question would be ‘What act of love will advance the truth in this situation?’ Thereafter, the question would be focused on the courage needed to implement, namely, ‘What is the optimal way to implement this act of love to advance the truth in this situation?’

Let’s look at three examples from around the world where wisdom, love and courage have been used – probably unknowingly, but certainly driven by an inner conscience:

1)      An act of profound wisdom: Muhammad Yunus asked what would happen if the power of the free market could be harnessed to solve the problems of poverty and inequality? To find the answer to this question, lead him on a journey starting with his resignation as an economist in the USA to become the founding Chairman of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Through innovative micro-finance business models he empowered the poorest of the poor to become micro entrepreneurs. This earned him the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2006.

2)      An act of tough love: Professor Mervin King championed the corporate governance movement in South Africa. The King Report is widely used today as a global best practice for corporate governance. This is an act of love that protects the broad security of millions of stakeholders, including pensioners, widows, and vulnerable workers and their families. It also protects and guides company directors towards responsible business leadership, giving them a sense of purpose and meaning in their endeavours.

3)      An act of courage to do the impossible: During the 1950s, nearly the entire fishing village of Minamata in Japan was wiped out by mercury contained in the industrial waste water of the Chisso Corporation’s chemical plant. This lethal cocktail poisoned the villagers’ drinking and fishing waters that caused neurological diseases, disfigurement, and death. Due to the collective courage from thought leaders in the community, business, and government, Minamata recovered from this industrial tragedy by rehabilitating its land, its fishing waters, and its people. Today, the town of Minamata is a world leader in the treatment of consumer waste through innovative business models.

The vocabulary of wisdom, love and courage will give you the eyes of an eagle to see the will of God in this poem from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity,

we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then,

for the second time in the history of the world,

humanity will have discovered fire.

Nancy Adler, an esteemed business scholar and artist, asks business leaders: “Now that we can do anything; what shall we do?”  For the Christian business leader the ‘to-do’ is to climb Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, to see a world where fire has been discovered for a second time. This is a world where every household, business and government is water-, waste- and carbon-neutral; where systemic poverty has been eliminated; where human security is described as shalom; and where success is a balanced word.

This is the world of inclusive globalization where business acts as an organ of society.

Just like Moses was allowed to see, but not enter the promised land; so today’s Christian business leader will not enter this world in his/her lifetime, but is called to lay the foundations for such a world for future generations.  What an incredible and meaningful end-purpose to one’s labour as a business leader to build an environment where Christians can live in the presence of, and to the honor and glory of God – i.e. Coram Deo. After an eight-year safari of research, reflection and writing, drawing on the thoughts and speeches of today’s finest leaders and thinkers around the world emerged their answers to a series of Socratic questions:

What kind of future does humanity want? What kind of society will be able to deliver and sustain such a kind of future? What kind of business is suitable for such a society? What kind of business leader is needed for such a business? What kind of education does such a business leader need?

There emerged a research-based understanding of the purpose, nature and dynamics of business as an organ of society. The new end-purpose of any business’ mission is to heed humanity’s global sustainability mandate to its leaders; namely to deliver:

a world of inclusive globalisation (WOIG) where systemic poverty has been permanently removed and where humanity’s broad security is assured.

This requires:

 a society that finds its greatness in the courage of protecting both its humanity and its economy as a whole; and

world-class businesses, financially robust across economic cycles, with global stewardship as the dominant business logic; and

business leaders with the ability to envision a WOIG, and then to lead towards it in an entrepreneurial and path-breaking manner exerting leadership qualities anchored in wisdom, love, and courage.

This is the raison d’être of business as an organ of society. Good, but business leaders need practical business models to deliver results!

Is there such a business model?  Yes, the new Social Contract with Business is such a business model that is driven by eight business leadership responsibilities directed;

towards itself – to be world-class;

towards its direct stakeholders – to be sustainable;

towards the earth – its alignment with the earth’s finite nature;

towards the global commons – to be a co-custodian thereof;

towards society –  to be a co-architect of a healthy society;

towards democracy – to protect its own entrepreneurial space;

towards government – its alignment with government priorities; and

towards transnational crime – to eliminate its role and influence.

Now that we have learned to master the winds, the waves and the microchip; how do we learn to apply the Social Contract with Business?   The new business educational paradigm, conscientization, aims to do just this by discovering, harnessing and applying the energies of love. This educational kairos moment is achieved upon mastery of the following two knowledge clusters:

A global mindset, through:

  • mastering the context of history and the present, i.e. an economic history of the world, globalisation, global political economy, global commons  and current global status;
  • mastering consciousness of the world, i.e. universal ethics and values, sociology, ecology, culture and key global trends;
  • mastering consciousness of the self, i.e. a moral judgement of self in the presence of the call for stewardship (metanoao); and
  • mastering consciousness of the conscience, i.e. the ethos and intent of the Social Contract with Business as a means to deliver humanity’s global sustainability mandate.

The outcome is an ability to apply the vocabulary of wisdom, love and courage in the competitive world of commerce.


Entrepreneurial stewardship, through:

  • mastering the tools of holistic decision-making, such as creativity, critical reasoning, systems thinking, decision making techniques, and intergenerational business models;
  • mastering the tools of buy-in of decisions, such as communication, negotiation, influencing, crossing cultural divides, dealing with power, ambition and ego; and
  • mastering the art of implementation.

The outcome should be an ability to exercise entrepreneurial judgement in the turnaround to a world of inclusive globalization.

Now that we have learned how to apply the Social Contract with Business and have mastered the vocabulary of wisdom, love and courage, how shall we build a business as an organ of society?

Or in practical terms: how shall we build an enterprise that is world-class, financially robust across economic cycles, with global stewardship as the dominant business logic?

Providing a research-based answer to this question, I turned to the Theory of the Growth of the Firm where Edith Penrose identified four enterprise-wide capabilities (i.e. entrepreneurial services) in 1959 as success drivers of American businesses that have been in business for longer than fifty years.

Given the new context of global business some fifty years later, these original entrepreneurial services became re-interpreted and expanded in the Social Contract with Business, namely:

Entrepreneurial versatility: Moving beyond management and technical competence to build a WOIG-kind enterprise as an organ of a society;

Trust-building ingenuity: Convincing a sceptical audience about the merits of the enterprise’s intent to turn around to a WOIG, and then to invest in it;

Entrepreneurial ambition: Moving away from the comfort zone of destructive globalisation towards building a new WOIG-kind future;

Entrepreneurial judgement: Having the ability to make holistic decisions through analysis and wisdom to advance the cause of good for all stakeholders;

Entrepreneurial innovation: Having the ability to innovate in technologies, education, mindsets, and value-propositions necessary for a turn-around to a WOIG;

Entrepreneurial implementation: Having the ability to master the art, science, and craft of implementation without compromising on quality, time, budget, and integrity;

Intrapreneurial operations: Having the ability to exploit technologies and opportunities to optimise the firm’s assets towards delivering sustained prosperity to a WOIG society; and

Entrepreneurial stewardship: Having the wisdom, love, and courage to exert path-breaking leadership to apply the Social Contract with Business as an intergenerational business case.

Is this realistic?  For me a good practical example is Unilever’s strategic business model that draws on all eight entrepreneurial services in order to deliver the following:

‘Unilever, which sells products in 170 countries, announced last week that by 2020 it would help: 1 billion people improve their hygiene habits and bring safe drinking water to 500 million people to reduce life threatening illness; reduce salts and fats from its foods; halve the greenhouse gas impact of its products across their life cycle; halve the water used on its products in water scarce countries; halve the waste disposal of its products; source all its raw materials from sustainable sources; and improve the livelihood of 500,000 small scale farmers . . . but more innovation is needed.’

By aligning your current strategy with that envisaged in the Social Contract with Business you are fulfilling your calling as a steward of God’s creation – one step at a time – one opportunity at a time.  If you are the owner, Chairman or CEO of a company you can embark on an enterprise-wide turn-around to a world of inclusive globalization – take Unilever as a role model to begin with.  If you are an employee of a company you can embark on a turn-around within the limits of your job description – take the scientist who invented recyclable plastic as a role model to begin with.  We as Christian business leaders are a beacon of light; path-breaking pioneers of harvesting and applying the energies of God’s love in the workplace . . . in the economy.

For this we need to have faith in our faith (1 John: 5:4)

Soli Deo Gloria.



The Holy Bible

Coetzee, J. 2012: The Social Contract with Business – beyond the quest for global sustainability. http://coetzeejopie.authorsxpress.com



About Charles Brooks

who is originally from Miami, Fla., moved to SC, holds two degrees from the University of SC. His business background is primarily in Real Estate Development (Motels, Hotel, Office Buildings, Restaurants, Residential) and Business Consulting. He currently is Managing Director of Brooks, Baker, Lehman & Kohlhepp - Investors in Real Estate and Mining, and has other business interests under the umbrella of Brooks Properties. FULL-TIME-MINISTRY: Fully engaged in spreading the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with an emphasis on the Business Community.


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