Andreu Enrich: “Critical thinking is scarce nowadays”
During the EADA’s International Week 2018 we had the chance to enjoy the seminar ‘Responsible Management Critiques’ conducted by Andreu Enrich, a young talented professor with a long experience in social entrepreneurship. In 2006 he founded a project called Stick for India which aims to use field hockey as a social development tool for the children in backward areas of India. His expertise area is a unique and strange combination of top sport –he is a former international hockey player and current head coach of a Spanish premier league team–, Marketing –he graduated from the EADA’s Master in Marketing in 2007– and business ethics and philosophy of economics.
In the seminar, you talked about the shadow side of responsible management. Did you refer to the contradictions of this term?
The shadow side of responsible management is what we don’t know, what we did not bring to our intellectual light yet. Now it’s time to claim for responsible management. However, when “responsibility” was not a “must-virtue” in any good management practice? What does this adjective mean? Companies doing well by doing good? Is that really possible within a global capitalist system? These are some of the shadow areas of this term that I recommend to explore.
How would you define responsible management? Is it useless nowadays?
This term has the same psychoanalytic origin than “sustainability” or “social responsibility”. This refers to the guilty feeling that companies and consumers usually experience after exploiting the environment. Why? Don’t we believe in the invisible hand anymore? We want to have our morality anesthetized and our brands clean. If the company complies with the “responsibility”, we can be calm again and keep buying without further concerns. The anxiolytic is included in the price we pay. Useless denotes some grade of neutrality. I claim that responsible management is perverse in its nature because it usually solves some problems within the same context that has previously created them.
Responsible management is perverse in its nature because it usually solves some problems within the same context that has previously created them
How may the current managers find the balance between the pursuit of profit and the pursuit of happiness in our capitalist society?
There is nothing more deceptive than a friendly boss. The primary goal of any company is to maximize profit. That is your main responsibility. As a manager, you will have to achieve that goal with the best available tools. We shouldn’t forget that there is no success without pain. Assume that your existence in a competitive world will invariably hurt others. Be ready to fire employees, to push suppliers, to be respected by your employees and to seduce clients. In capitalism, there is just one end: profit. But there are many means, and “the pursuit of happiness” is one of them.
You said: “Nowadays we need more skepticism and more critical thinking”. In what sense?
Critical thinking is scarce nowadays. Philosophy is the art of questioning everything. It’s uncomfortable in its nature. It brings you into a zone where everything is full of contradictions, shadows and doubts. But this is much better than living in a naive plasterboard scenario. We should be concerned about the society where we live, we should study the fundamentals of capitalism, the role of the state in the economy and the history of the welfare state, for example. If not, we will become blind adopters of the dominant ideology. This means to keep working hard, save money for your exotic holidays, consume new responsible products and expose everything on the internet. And in case of personal crisis, you have the inner power to change (but never try to change the system).
Is there any way to solve the eternal fight between private profit and social welfare?
Absolutely. For instance, longer life expectancy, higher literacy rates, more safety, less poverty… In Western countries, we live in a social welfare society due to our political and economic system and history. This is a democracy and market economy binomial. However, there are other undesirable effects such as inequality increase, lobbies that gain more political power, citizens more aligned with the political sphere or state-nations that can’t deal with global challenges. Just eight men own same wealth as half of the world. Is that part of your “welfare society” ideal? I don’t know.
Just eight men own same wealth as half of the world. This is not part of our welfare society ideal.
What was the main focal point that you touched upon in class?
The participants were able to have new and different perspectives about business ethics. They achieved this broad angle after reflecting about the capitalism, economy and the history of CSR. Then we studied what responsible management is today. Just after building the concept, we demolished it from different angles, following the ideas of some big thinkers. The last point of the course was a new proposal of “dark leadership” which is pragmatic, realistic and a bit provocative. I hope that our students have developed a better philosophical flair that can help them to approach further concerns.
Tell us about your project Stick for India? How did the initiative come about and what were the main results?
It came about like any business opportunity when matching an external opportunity with an inner strength. In rural India, there was an opportunity for children to play sport on a regular daily basis. As a former hockey player, I had the knowledge and the energy to start a hockey school. Nowadays we have more than 1.200 boys and girls playing hockey every day in rural areas, competing in national tournaments and some of them becoming professional athletes. This project is part of a big charity trust called Vincente Ferrer.
What are the main reflections of your book The happiness apprentice?
Happiness is another vague concept. We pursue happiness but we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for. Is it joy? Purpose? Peace? Success? Recognition? Pleasure? All of them? There are many “fast food” books about this topic, and most of them are intellectually poor. Again: opportunity vs strength. I’ve tried to study this polysemic concept through many perspectives by having conversations with different experts from various fields of knowledge (sports, banking, religion, psychology…). There are no “10 steps to” or any other magical receipt.
To what extent did your sports background help you in your professional career?
To pursue a common goal along with other mates and to do it against other competitors. To do it under pressure, with external constraints and inner struggle. To do it through challenges that make you grow. To obey certain rules and to learn when you must sacrifice your personal will for sake of the common one. To find purpose in your daily activity. To celebrate victories and to accept defeats. There is no better master program that experience in elite sport.