WFYI Indianapolis
A Study Guide based on the PBS Documentary
Doing Virtuous Business



The global economy is at a crossroad.  Confronted with new global conflicts and shifting political and economic fortunes, many people are sensing a growing unease about the direction of the country and the world.  With abundant scandal, economic collapse and crisis on every side we are searching for a better, more virtuous form of capitalism.

Are capitalist values still relevant in today’s globalized, high tech, interdependent world?  Are we facing the sunset of capitalism as we know it or do we face a new dawn, Capitalism 2.0?

Nationwide, globally transformation is taking root.  Visionary leaders are pioneering resurgence in virtue and spirit.  They seek to build communities and inspire citizens in new ways that are renewing virtuous capitalism.

A study guide has been developed in c

onjunction with the new documentary Doing Virtuous Business with the intent of making the film more useful to colleges and universities, as well as study groups across all the corners of the globe.

Participants will be prompted to delve into six discussion areas:

  • The virtues
  • Social and spiritual capital
  • Leadership in a global society
  • Humanistic vision
  • A life-affirming future
  • An OATH of Virtuous Capitalism


1) To stimulate widespread discussion and debate concerning character and the virtues underlying capitalism, and its future direction among leaders of today and tomorrow.

  • To introduce the target audience to the concepts of spiritual capital and the free enterprise system through the dissemination of the study guide.

  • To provide a forum, via the documentary’s web site, that will broaden the exchange to a larger global community, as a public platform, and thereby expand the program’s reach and provide the opportunity for enhanced discussion among diverse groups of participants, everywhere.




Using the DVD Doing Virtuous Business in a Discussion Group.

This group discussion guide offers a format for leading an hour-long discussion of the PBS documentary (and its companion book, Spiritual Enterprise: Doing Virtuous Business, by Theodore Roosevelt Malloch.

Participants should view the entire documentary (56 minutes) and picture themselves as leaders or persons who will influence society and enterprises and who want to be effective in building virtuous capitalism.  The group should see itself as trying to discern what is right in their own lives, in their own firms, and it their own economies at the local, national and global levels.  It should also ask which virtues and habits should guide the groups, associations, political, business and religious communities in which they are involved.

As referenced above, there are six groups of questions that relate to the documentary that can be addressed in part or whole: The virtues; Social and spiritual capital; Leadership in a global society; Humanistic vision; A life-affirming future; and Propositions for Virtuous Capitalism.


Special training is not needed to effectively lead this kind of discussion.  The leader or leaders; however, should not lecture or answer questions, so much as gently guide the conversation.  He/She should begin and end the meeting, introduce the topics, restate questions or salient points, listen closely for follow-up, set a tone of free exchange, involving everyone in the conversation and keeping track of the bigger picture.  After 15 minutes or so the leader should summarize where the group is and the direction it wants to take.  Using two moderators may prove to be better than one to share responsibilities.


Each group is unique and will emphasize different personal experiences and insights. The goal is to stimulate a deep level of discourse and to connect with the larger themes and members of the group.  The objective is to raise important questions worthy of debate and deeper discussion, as opposed to focusing on reaching specific conclusions.  The discussion should be kept practical and non-ideological.  Some groups may add a meal, worship, prayer, readings or singing; this is their option.  Stay on track and request other’s views.  Probe and rephrase what was heard.  Ask for clarification, if necessary.  Periodically summarize.  Draw the quieter people into the group discussion while also containing those that want to speak too much or at length.  Disagreement is fine.  Debate occurs when ideas or opinion lead in differing directions.  No one should be made to feel defensive about anything they say.  Respect is the hallmark of discussion and persons should never feel attacked.  Try to keep the big picture in view.  Set some ground rules. Remember the discussion is off the record and is nonpartisan. It is educational.




      • Are the hard and soft virtues evidenced in the documentary relevant for the 21st Century? For Capitalism?
      • What does the pursuit of virtues mean?  To you?
      • What forces and trends are most affecting capitalism today?
      • Which core values would you nominate as the most critical for the future?
      • Do some of these virtues need to be updated? Renewed? How?
      • How would we engage in the process of building a more virtuous capitalism in today’s global knowledge based economy and society? What seems to work in the documentary? In your own experiences?


      • Is rapid change in the economic and technological sphere overwhelming our culture? Does capitalism have a spiritual dimension?
      • Have we ignored the cultural dimensions of economic life?
      • Are many of our gains and achievement at greater risk today?
      • How would you reconnect economics, culture, and leadership to mitigate these risks?
      • What is social capital?  How is it formed and stored?
      • Is spiritual capital of all faith traditions essential to humanflourishing? To a more virtuous form of capitalism?


      • Was the global economy unleashed of the modern economic experiment? Can globalization be humanized? How?
      • What are the roots of the current fears about the future and economic prosperity in the entire world? After the crises in capital markets, mortgages and so many scandals?
      • Are cultural critics often creating a counter-narrative to that of business leaders?
      • How can people reclaim civic space and lead the many institutions that make up society? The enterprises that drive economic growth?
      • Should leaders rethink and renew relationships among business, government, education and nonprofit groups? Is global statesmanship inside and amongst corporations a key?
      • How can other societies and countries join in a dialogue about our common future and increasingly integrated global economy? Is Virtuous Capitalism possible? Desirable? Already underway?


  • What do the humanities and our various faith traditions teach us that could reenergize the converging forces of globalization and the explosion of knowledge in the form of practical wisdom?
  • Which visions in the documentary most appeal to you and why? Which companies? Practices? Stories?
  • What is paralyzing action?
  • What are the hallmarks of transformation depicted in the documentary? How do virtues arise in the first place? And how are they built-up and sustained over time?
  • Can faith traditions provide a primary narrative for this post-modern future?
  • How is values based management critical to our humanistic endeavor within corporations or in a customer driven economy?



  • What does perfect liberty mean to you?
  • Are voluntary associations, places of gathering and charity important?  Are they in decline or advance?
  • How do the examples here pictured make us healthier, or democratic, and more generous?
  • What does living a “good life” with purpose and direction mean to you? Are the virtues for individual benefit as well as social importance? What is character development at this point in human history?
  • Is material wealth the sole definition of happiness or does human flourishing count as a source of meaning?
  • Which virtues are exalted in the documentary, that builds our wisdom and betterment? How is a “Virtues Matrix” discussed useful as a tool to get better companies
  • Circulate the OATH of Virtuous Capitalism and pick out some lines that appeal to you and the group.  Read them aloud to close the discussion.  How are these propositions being realized or not realized today?  How are they brought to life in the documentary?  In your view is capitalism satisfactory as is, or do we need a more virtuous form? Would you sign this Oath?





Doing Virtuous Business is made possible by grants from:

John Templeton Foundation

Lilly Endowment


Ford Foundation