Economy of Communion in EA XI: Pillars of Communion

Referring to Pillars of Communion three elements can be considered: Dia­logue, Trust, and Reciprocity.


Thanks to dialogue, the relationship among peo­ple can be realized. Dialogue can be more than a simple exchange of ideas. Emotions, feelings, motivations, aims, even the most deep spiritual things, can be exchanged when a good dialogue between people works on. Therefore, such a dialogue can be carried on with two attitudes which can be seriously considered: to listen and to speak.

Listening can be shaped in different ways and on different levels. In fact listening calls for silence, and it is possible to highlight at least three levels of si­lence (in a deeply-growing order): 1) the silence of the voice; 2) the silence of the mind; 3) the silence of the soul. Speaking and listening can be considered two faces of the same coin, known as dialogue. So, if silence constitutes the core of listening, then speaking is very important. Even speaking can be put into practice in different ways and intensity. Speaking can express a thought as it comes out from the mind, unrelated to the other, and without affecting the other. Speaking can become a bridge between the other for sharing ideas, feelings, and what is deep in mind and/or soul.


It is considered important, in this sense, to underline the role played by trust (Pelligra, 2007). According to John Locke, trust is that “vinculum societies” (Locke, 1954) (that is, “social obligation, social relationship”) without which even the most elementary forms of social life would be critically limited. Just think about all those acts we perform every day, without reflection, but that involve an attitude of trust. It is possible to see this disposition even in busi­ness relationships. It has been observed, for example, that “businessmen often prefer to go by their own “word of honor”, their handshake, the “common honesty and respectability”, even when the transaction implies the exposition to serious risk” (Macauley, 1963; Parolin, 2002) in the exchanges between firms, as well as in the interactions within the firm itself.


George A. Akerlof (Nobel Prize winner for Economy in 2001), referring to research carried out by George Homans at the Eastern Utility Co., introduces the category of “partial gift exchange”: “From the side of the worker, the gift given is the work in excess with regard to the minimum standard. From the side of the firm, the gift given is the salary in excess with regard to the one the workers can get if they would leave their present job.” (Akerlof, 1982, p. 544). The main aspect of Akerlof’s contribution is that he introduces the category of “gift” to explain that workers’ behavior which, according to the neoclassical theory, should be considered as paradoxical. Then, the sentiment they feel for each other and towards the firm, becomes the essential element, the rule, the norm that determines their behavior. “To a great extent – Akerlof continues – the gift given is approximately in the range of what the recipient expects, and the latter, in turn reciprocates in the same way” (Akerlof, 1982, p.550). Close to the gift, the reciprocity (Bruni, 2006) develops, in fact, “free gift, by its own nature, always producing the activation of inter subjective relationship «par excellence» that is one of reciprocity.” (Sacco and Zamagni, 2002, p.35).

Bruno specifies that, if reciprocity is one, there are many forms in which reci­procity can be implemented. He considers, in particular, three forms: a) “reci­procity without benevolence”; b) “reciprocity of Filial”; and c) “reciprocity agape”. It is extremely important that the three forms of reciprocity should be present in the business. The first (reciprocity-without-benevolence) brings some “market dynamics” inside the firm and thus assures more freedom. In the contract, in fact, the normative frame is defined inside of which everyone can act and this, if at first sight can appear as a vinculum yet can be considered liberating in the sense that it defines that due from every part (e.g.: defining working hours, extra-work, vacations, just wages, etc.).

Reciprocity -filial reminds us that inside the business the sole logic of the contract is not sufficient. Contracts are by their own nature incomplete. And making them efficient is difficult if people take shelter in logics such as «this is not my duty with Reciprocity filial highlights the need for everybody to make a step towards the other and to remove opportunistic attitudes that wear away and sooner or later eliminate reciprocity. The reciprocity-Agape gives dignity and emphasis to gratuitousness and to the unconditionally of action in that being animated by intrinsic motivation is not conditioned, as above stated, by anything extrinsic in its own origin, even if the effects of this kind of action are conditioned. It is important to underline that specificity of gratuitousness. So, all this stresses that a full communion among people within the business calls to activate also this form of reciprocity, considering communion features (it is free, open, universal and oriented to human flourishing).

Paul Kisolo: Executive Consultant KARDS

Millicent Agutu: Administrator KARDS

Francis Owino: Administrator REG


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