Mendoza School of Business

2022 Book Recommendations for Ethical Leadership

Published: December 22, 2022 / Author: Carol Elliott

As part of its mission to inform, equip and inspire values-based leaders, the University of Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership, located within the Mendoza College of Business, publishes an annual list of “Best Books for Ethical Leaders.” The 2022 list includes four books suggested by affiliated faculty that bridge the worlds of business and academia and provide practical insights that can help leaders live and work more ethically.

book coverPurpose and Profit by George Serafeim

Suggested by Jessica McManus Warnell, Rex and Alice A. Martin Faculty Director

With optimism and actionable suggestions, Serafeim discusses the alignment of stakeholder and shareholder value, and how companies must incorporate ESG considerations to lead effective, ethical businesses.

book coverOpen: The Story of Human Progress by Johan Norberg

Suggested by Jim Otteson, John T. Ryan Jr. Professor of Business Ethics

Norberg’s book offers an explanation of why wealth and prosperity began to rise so precipitately around 1800. He distinguishes between “open” societies and social orders, and “closed” societies and orders. The former are marked by an openness to new ideas, new people and new perspectives, from all members of society and from members of other societies, while the latter are marked by a suspicion of new ideas, people and perspectives. Norberg claims that this “openness,” which is relatively new in human history, played the key role in explaining why prosperity increased, both when and where it did. He also argues that a penchant for “closed” suspicion is ever present and can endanger continued growth in prosperity.

book coverNet Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive By Giving More Than They Take by Paul Polman and Andrew Winston

Suggested by Rev. Oliver Williams, C.S.C., Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business

Net Positive is good book on how to advance the UN Global Compact’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Polman, the former CEO of Unilever, currently serves as the Chair of the Board of the United Nations Global Compact.


book coverWanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis

Suggested by Gregory Robson, Visiting Assistant Research Professor in the Business Ethics and Society Program

Author Luke Burgis (Busch School of Business) considers how the desires of the heart — what we want — can and should inform the actions we take. Drawing mainly on the work of French social philosopher René Girard as well as Aristotle, C. S. Lewis and others, Burgis shows how business leaders and others can improve their current desires in order to create a better future for all. I was struck by Burgis’ insights on living well and leading effectively.


Visit Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership for more information about the Center and its mission.