Blessed are the Meek for they shall inherit the earth - an inspiration applicable to business?

David Christopher Molyneaux

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    33 Citations (Scopus)


    The paper's broad aim is to provide a wider understanding of a complex virtue, "meekness". This interest is pragmatic. Contemporary research by Collins (2001) has identified "meekness" as a personal quality for highest-level leadership at great businesses, a theme identifiable also in religious and ancient philosophical narratives. Two strands of enquiry are pursued. Firstly, features of "meekness" are inferred by reference to Plato, Aristotle and Xenophon, as also to the gospel writer, Matthew, source of the title's quotation. It concludes that "meekness" is not about powers foregone but "powers controlled and exercised with discernment". The second strand addresses whether there are intrinsic differences between the ethics of business and religious activities. Narrative of a New Testament incident, apparently condemning traders, is briefly explored as a case study. Closer examination points how an inappropriate fusing of regulatory and commercial roles had created market abuses. The timeless account warns against inadequately controlled powers and provides an enduring example of how "the meek" should respond assertively against unethical conduct and avoid it themselves. While the paper acknowledges that there may be distinctive "guardian" and "commercial" syndromes for ethical prioritisation, a spiritual virtue, such as "meekness", transcends individual and organisational purposes, being aspirational for any activities that involve providing services and being accountable.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)347-363
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • accountability
    • guardian and commercial ethical syndromes
    • "Level 5 Hierarchy" of executive capabilities
    • "meekness"
    • New Testament narrative
    • service
    • subsidiarity


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