Junzi and Its Five Virtues

Junzi, while being the ideal personality in Confucianism, is also the epithet given to a person who is able to meet Confucianist moral standards, hence the name “Junzi Corporation” given to a business corporation which is run in accordance with the Confucianist code of ethics. In Chinese ethics, the “Five Virtues” refer to “Benevolence, Righteousness, Propriety, Wisdom and Sincerity”, which are the core values of Confucianism, hence also the values to be adhered to by Junzi Corporations.

Benevolence” for corporations means showing a loving heart and kindness in operation. Mr. Liang Shuming regarded Benevolence as the most important concept in Confucius’ teachings. In Chapter 22 of Book XII “Yan Yuan” in Confucian Analects , Fan Chi, a student of Confucius, asked about benevolence. The Master said, “It is to love all men.” Thus, loving everyone equals “Benevolence”. From the perspective of management, it can be said that a corporation caring about its customers and stakeholders with a benevolent heart is a benevolence-oriented Junzi Corporations.

According to The Doctrine of the Mean in The Book of Rites, “Righteousness is the accordance of actions with what is right.” “Righteousness” originates from “the feeling of shame and dislike”, which means the hatred of unreasonable and unjust behaviour, in Mencius’ well-known “Four Principles”. Therefore, a righteousness-oriented corporation operates in accordance with reasonable and just business practices. According to Chun Qiu Zuo Zhuan, “Neither the god nor man could help those who do not act in the interest of justice.” Corporations as well as individuals would not receive assistance from the god or other people if they perform acts of injustice.

The “Propriety” in Junzi corporations refers to corporations being devoted to attaining the individual goals of each stakeholder with the achievement of an all-win situation and mutual benefit and assistance as the guiding principle. In the book “Of Honor and Disgrace” in Xunzi, “Propriety” is “the Way to make the whole populace live together in harmony and unity”. In Chapter 12 of Book I “Xue Er” in Confucian Analects, the philosopher You said, “In practicing the rules of propriety, a natural ease is to be prized”. A good example of achieving an all-win situation with propriety is Fair Trade Coffee. Under the Fair Trade Coffee programme, not only can the income of the farmers be increased, but they can also learn and adopt more environmentally friendly and sustainable farming techniques. The farmers’ neighbourhoods can also receive additional funding to improve their medical facilities, among other social amenities. In addition, consumers of Fair Trade Coffee have a sense of satisfaction in contributing to social charity.

Wisdom” is the capacity to be wise and insightful, acquire knowledge, analyze, judge, create and think. Chapter 28 of Book XIV “Xian Wen” in Confucian Analects describes Junzi as “wise…free from perplexities”, meaning that wise people are able to deeply understand issues and the connection between issues. In face of problems, they are free from indecisiveness. In daily corporate operation, “Wisdom” includes the management of corporate knowledge, for example conducting marketing research, and the management of marketing information system for study and analysis of major trends of the market. On a deeper level, “Wisdom” also reflects the operational policy and philosophy of a corporate which focus on consumer needs and satisfy those needs with benevolence and love. A wise corporate must analyze and understand the fundamental changes in the macro environment in order to act accordingly to satisfy consumer needs. For example, aging population is a dominant trend which has considerable implications for the operation of many business organizations. In the case of the catering industry, managers should consider the following actions to attract more and more elder consumers: adopting a larger font size on the menu, putting a magnifying glass on each table, providing brighter lighting, applying an anti-skid surface for the floor of the dining area and the toilet, installing handrails on walls, and cooking food for a longer time to make the food softer and easier to chew.

Sincerity” for corporations refers to honest and trustworthy behaviour. In Chapter 7 of Book XII “Yan Yuan” in Confucian Analects, Zi Gong asked about government. Confucius, the Master, said, ‘The requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler.’ Then Zi Gong said, ‘If it cannot be helped, and one of these must be dispensed with, which of the three should be foregone first?’ ‘The military equipment,’ said the Master. Zi Gong again asked, ‘If it cannot be helped, and one of the remaining two must be dispensed with, which of them should be foregone?’ The Master answered, ‘Part with the food. From of old, death has been the lot of all men; but if the people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the State.’

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