Human Flourishing

The Good Institutions and Organizations Project

The Good Institutions and Organizations (GIO) Project is a multi-faceted research program at Catholic University which seeks to answer St. John Paul the Great's call in Ex Corde Ecclesiae for academic research addressing "serious contemporary problems" in "service to Church and Society" (32; 30).

The serious contemporary problems at the heart of this project arise at the intersection of business, the state, and civil society. At the level of the business organization, these issues include transparency, corporate governance, and what business scholars call non-market strategy.

At the societal-level, these issues involve institutions - the formal (regulatory) and informal (normative and cultural) constraints we place on our own behavior as human persons. In the American domestic context, critical institutions – protections for individuals, organizations and private property; our shared respect for the rule of law; cultural and religious emphasis on moral and civic virtue; and our trust in one another and our political and economic system – are often taken for granted.

This project focuses on the effects of institutions on organizations, and specifically the risks (such as political risk, corruption, the erosion of trust, and market failure) that arise when the laws and norms necessary for a free, functioning economy are absent. Voids in these institutions are common in other parts of the world; some would say they are increasingly common domestically as well.

The unifying theme behind the project's focus on institutions and organizations is the the Common Good. The Common Good can be conceived in both potency and act. The ultimate actual Common Good is God (pure act). Business organizations are called to this good through innovation and service to others – participating in co-creation with God. Every business organization also has its own particular Common Good - the good which unites management, employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders.

Institutions are part of the potential Common Good, and therefore equate well to one of the most commonly cited definitions in the Catechism – “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1906). Institutions such as property rights and rule of law are the conditions which allow a business organization – as a group of individuals – to reach its actual Common Good, the creation of shared value for a flourishing society.