A characteristic of our modern era is its insistence that
for progress to occur, not only are advances in science
and technology necessary for the common good, but that philosophy
rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition must be negated or relegated
to a second class status. As a natural result, the
battle for the soul of humanity is currently driven by
what science and technology permit as possible, while the search
for truth has been displaced as being sorely out of
fashion, uninteresting and/or impossible, and at times even ‘harmful.’
are the words of Regnum Christi members and corporate governance
scholars Nicholas V. Vakkur and Zulma J. Herrera-Vakkur discussing their
new book Corporate Governance Regulation: How Poor Management is Destroying
the Global Economy. Mr. Vakkur is assistant professor at Trident
University in Cypress, California. Mrs. Herrera-Vakkur is a researcher and
expert on a wide range of corporate governance issues. Below
is a recent interview they granted for our Regnum Christi
1. What attracted you both to Regnum Christi?
We formally pledged
membership at the Atlanta RC convention in the late 90’s.
The Legion and Regnum Christi possess what is, in our
view, the ideal blend of authentic, Catholic spirituality -- a
desire for personal excellence and individual sanctity, an unspoken rejection
of mediocrity as a way of life, combined with a
degree of humility and charity that is uncommon.
and Regnum Christi have helped us to see the beauty
of Catholicism, while avoiding the inherent traps of (false) piety.
This has made it possible for us to follow our
Christian vocation in a manner consistent with an authentic understanding
of the human person.
2. When and why did you write
Originally, we set out to empirically estimate the
impact of recent corporate governance regulations (e.g., Sarbanes Oxley, Dodd-Frank)
upon the global economy. After several years of intense study,
guided by prayer, our objective took an entirely unforeseen path.
It became evident that the message we were to convey
was more comprehensive in scope, timely and significant. Beyond the
mere calculation of precise empirical cost estimates, we realized that
the global economic chaos, so pronounced in our era, is
more rooted in a failed philosophy that can be traced
back to the Enlightenment, rather than in economic science.
society simply takes it for granted that advances in technology
and science can solve every human problem. In essence, science
and technology have become “gods.” Our core finding suggests, at
the very least, that dramatic progress in technology and knowledge,
coupled with the wrong philosophical foundation, has the potential to
unleash unanticipated, destructive influences upon society.
Consider the ominous warnings
issued by John Paul II, who spoke openly about the
influence of a failed philosophy on human welfare. We suggest
that the same dire consequences apply to the global economy.
No matter how sophisticated the effort to manage it, it
is society’s core beliefs which will determine the global economic
3. You state that the book shows how “virtue--as
traditionally defined--is vital to forming a healthy global economy.” Please
A basic implication of Catholic theology is that an individual
dominated by avarice is naturally incapable of acting in a
manner fundamentally consistent with his or her personal welfare. Thus,
it is not difficult to show how many people like
this (e.g., CEOs, bookkeepers etc.), each operating at different levels
within the global economy, can affect it. The central importance
of virtue—over and above the law—is apparent as it relates
to global economic health.
The increasing chaos reported hourly via the
global news offers a real time glimpse into the immense
economic and social penalties mankind suffers when virtue is lost.
Adam Smith once championed the idea of an “invisible hand”
through which the common good would be secured for the
multitudes through a counterbalance of opposing influences. However sympathetic we
may be to this basic world view, in the context
of the modern climate in which lawlessness and individual license
reign supreme—to a degree, that Smith himself could not possibly
have envisioned—his notion no longer is applicable.
Rather, the modern
ethos exemplifies the rise of individual license and insists upon
the rule of self-interest.
Following the impulse which promises the greatest
amount of pleasure in the immediate moment, the end result
cannot be anything other than a global economic order in
shambles. It is a fragile peace that is held together
only by competing power interests—a select group of multi-national corporations,
global financiers, and governing bodies. The breadth and severity of
crises, not only in Europe, but also in the US
(at the municipal, state and federal level), looms on the
The only logical conclusion is that the dominant ethos is
direly wrong. Despite decades of unprecedented advances in science and
technology, nearly every indication is that the leading global economies
are heading for economic ruin rather than the prosperity. It’s
clear the global economic order is now unraveling. We suggest
that its demise—whether it proves sudden or slow—may be attributed
to a dramatic social shift in virtue surrendered or lost.
How can companies, made up of individuals with various beliefs
and backgrounds, morally deliberate?
It is important to note that corporations,
no matter how large or prominent, represent only one component
of the global economy. In the book, we document a
tremendous power shift has been achieved largely through new regulation
in the last decade in which the government has effectively
usurped authority away from the private sector. Thus, while it
is certainly true that firms must behave ethically in order
for the global economic order to function effectively, the same
requirement is no less vital as applied to governments.
try to emphasize in the book that firms do not
exist in isolation. Rather, the firm is a component of
society and draws its values from modern culture. Firms may
pander to animal rights activists, for example, yet ignore the
outcries of those concerned with virtue because it’s entirely consistent
with the modern ethos.
Citizens of each nation must unite
in a common cause for virtue, for truth, and for
the common good. This is the only way to achieve
a healthy global economic order. At some point, the general
public, long before the corporate manager or politician, must determine
that some things in life are simply more important than
5. Why would RC members benefit from
reading your book?
Members of Regnum Christi are formally committed to
the ideals posed by Truth in the modern world, and
to living out a commitment to Christ and His Church
on earth. This requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice, valor
and continual moral, spiritual and intellectual preparation. Matthew 10:16 states
that Christ’s followers must be “wise as serpents…” Our book
could prove beneficial as a means of grasping the nature
of the battle mankind is waging for its very soul
and its future. All those who are moved out of
a concern for the future of humanity should possess a
basic understanding of the battle being waged as applied to
the global economy and to the future of modern civilization
6. One of your reviewers writes
that your book could help develop an “ethical climate” rather
than “focusing on regulation” in business. Why is this important,
and, in our fallen culture, is this even possible?
answer is that even a well-designed regulatory effort will fail
if only a small proportion of the population is law
abiding. Our modern reliance upon regulation is ineffective, wasteful, and
costly. Managers will continue to shirk their duties, and in
response, laws will becomes increasingly onerous and costly, with no
effect. The only viable alternative is to make a realistic
effort to inculcate moral virtue in the citizenry.
reviewers state that your “extensive research and valuable insights” will
help “companies and stakeholders,” and that the book is “recommended
reading for policy makers, academics, students and those in the
corporate word,” and for “financial researchers.” What makes this book
so useful for such varied audiences?
|Merry Christmas from the Vakkur family.|
The book is attractive
to a broad audience because we use an unusual approach.
Rather than target a narrow audience with a highly specialized
message, we advocate a new paradigm—one sorely needed to re-conceptualize
policymaking in a manner that is more amenable to practical
solutions. Naturally, this lends to a broad audience—e.g., academics, policymakers,
firm managers, concerned citizens. It is necessary to reach a
varied audience if there is to be a realistic chance
of positive and meaningful change within society at large.
can people get your book?
At the following links: