Meaningful work as a key to happiness

Amy Wrzesniewski organizational psychologist, professor at Yale was awarded the Herbert Simon Prize of 2018 by the Rajk College of Advanced Studies. After the award ceremony, she held a formal lecture in the Assembly Hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in which she talked about the relationship between job, career and calling as well as the importance of how we interpret work. How does meaningful work lead to happiness? How do career decisions shape us and how can we shape our own work? These are some of the questions she attempted to answer on the basis of her previous research.

Amy Wrzesniewski is professor at the Yale School of Management. In recent years she achieved major results in the areas of how people perceive work, and how they shape their work identity. She studied how people experience their work amidst various challenging circumstances, like in the case of stigmatized occupations and virtual work. What makes her research findings even more valuable is that they can be applied to running an organization or to one’s own work. Her research gives us guidance on how we could shape our working conditions in order to feel better and to be more productive or what we can do to that effect as managers.

The Herbert Simon Prize that was founded in 2004 is awarded by the students of the Rajk College of Advanced Studies to academics who made an outstanding contribution to resolving business issues or have an exceptional impact on the thinking and professional development of the College members. Owing to the annually granted award, recognized researchers and professors of foreign business schools have visited Hungary. Last year Sinan Aral professor at MIT, before him Jeffrey Pfeffer and Eric Brynjolfsson were awarded.

This year the members of the College of Advanced Studies compiled a volume of studies entitled “The Path to Happiness: Amy Wrzesniewski’s work in a Hungarian mirror” that summarizes the most essential thoughts of the awardee. The aim was to make available the outstanding research findings to a broader readership in Hungarian. The first essay in the volume summarizes Professor Wrzesniewski’s work, with further papers presenting selected pieces of practical research. During their own analyses, the college members examined the key concepts and models conceived by the awardee in the context of Hungarian organizations.

In her lecture, Amy Wrzesniewski drew attention to the fact that work occupied a very important position in most people’s life and psyche. It is therefore reasonable to begin searching for happiness by examining our relationship with work. Her research enables us to distinguish between three types of individuals: while some people look upon their work as job, others consider it as career, still others view it as calling. In this context job refers to the function of work ensuring a living; career highlights its function supporting development, promotion; calling grasps the intrinsic value of work, the opportunity it offers for personal fulfilment.

In the professor’s view cultivating positive meaning in work, that is finding meaning in work is usually linked to four factors. Our experience of work is influenced by our self-image, our values, beliefs and motivations. Others, our co-workers, leaders also affect us, just as the organizational context, the organizational culture and the narratives and interpretations offered by the broader social environment. Last but not least, there is the spiritual factor. Objectives, truths and values transcending us also contribute to find calling at work.

Each of the three attitudes to work affect our behaviour, aims and performance in a different way, which in turn have an impact on how successful we are. Research conducted by Professor Wrzesniewski also revealed that older age, higher income and a higher level of education positively correlate with coming to see our work as calling. In her lecture she also stressed that we ourselves could help achieve this through job crafting. Job crafting means that workers themselves are able to adjust and frame their job. They are able to redesign their tasks by performing tasks that are not included in their duties. In a video a patient transporter of a US hospital talked about why he started singing to patients. It was in order to lift their spirits.

Job crafting is also possible through altering interactions with others to get more embedded in the organizational social network. Reframing the concept of work is also an option, which involves changing the cognitive perception of what work is about, what is its purpose, social benefit and significance. While the outcome of job crafting is bound to have a positive impact on the worker, it is not unambiguously good or bad for organizations. Redefined tasks should remain in line with the objectives and operational procedures of the organization.

The significance of Professor Wrzesniewski’s findings is that they direct workers’ and leaders’ attention to their responsibility in how they experience work and to the fact that they can actively engage to improve this experience. Job crafting is teachable and research shows that the performance, commitment and satisfaction of employees who have taken part in such trainings increases both in the short and in the long run. Therefore finding calling in our work – and thereby the key to happiness – is in our hands.

Corvinus Kiosk attended the Press Breakfast arranged on the occasion to Amy Wrzesniewski’s visit. During this event, the Professor from Yale University replied to questions from participants in a more informal way.

How do you think the fact that today freelance, less constrained work attracts many people may affect workers?
Recently I have been thinking a lot about that. If we take, for instance, journalists and we compare the employees and freelancers of the same media outlet, analyses show that those with the editorial office to back them could cope better when they had a bad day. For freelancers, if things don’t work out, they tend to blame themselves in the absence of the psychological protection of the institution. At the same time, personalized work is crucial, the degree of which shows different patterns for the two types of work.

And what happens if the very place of the work becomes virtual? How do workers and companies handle opportunities offered by home office?
We examined the effect of shared offices, home office or the mix of the two (e.g. coffee shop) with colleagues a few years ago. Companies are usually afraid that if workers are not under their eyes, they will walk the dog and watch TV, that is do everything but work. It really depends on how responsible the worker is. Our research found that individuals who are allowed to do remote work are especially grateful to their employers, which is also demonstrated in the quality of their work. Persons working from home often spend more time working and choose to handle the delicate boundary separating work from private life. There is no-one to take over if their working hours expire. They still have to send an e-mail or respond to one when they are already with their family. For them, these are the real challenges.



Máté Baksa

What kind of world are we creating for ourselves with artificial intelligence? This is the most crucial question for the future.


The seminar series launched in March by the Corvinus Fintech Center presents the topics of AI and machine learning to the public. At the opening event Imre Bárd PhD candidate of the London School of Economics talked about the future of the regulation of AI. The series of events was opened by Márton Barta Strategic Director of our university, and the topic was introduced by Dr. Trinh Anh Tuan Head of the Corvinus Fintech Center.

Is artificial intelligence a blessing or a curse? Does it bring unprecedented freedom and well-being to humankind or to the contrary, unprecedented oppression and inequality? These questions can hardly be answered without being aware of how opportunities offered by advanced technology will affect our existing social systems. What is to transformed? What is to be regulated? How will rights and obligations apply to the different players in entirely new situations? Imre Bárd doctoral candidate of the London School of Economics focused on AI governance in his presentation of 1 March.

Although the expression “artificial intelligence” was coined by John McCarthy as early as in 1956, there is still no consensus on how we should understand it. (In its broadest sense it means technology that is capable of thinking and acting in a human or rational way.) While science might be owing us the precise definition of the term, the various attempts at defining it have brought us closer to understanding the meaning of intelligence. The AI paradox, for instance, sheds light on an exciting phenomenon: once a problem has been solved, there is no need for real intelligence to solve it again.

In his talk Imre Bárd presented the two types of AI: general AI that covers the entire spectrum of flexible and adaptable intelligence and specific AI that is only suitable for the solution of a well-defined problem. The most progressive technology seems to be deep learning that relies on the application of neural networks. Deep learning is a branch of machine learning in which AI is taught certain patterns that it will be able to recognize later on its own as a result of having been fed several thousand or million datapoints. Algorithms try to learn the high-level abstractions hidden in the data (which in the case of neural networks amounts to several internal/hierarchic layers). This training process can be implemented in different ways, the most important factor being the quality of the input. AI can only recognize the right patterns if the data fed to it is appropriate.

In the last few years, we have read perplexing news about AI technology. Cambridge Analytica obtained the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent and then used them to influence the outcome of the US elections. IBM Watson recommended wrong treatments to cancer patients. Researchers at Stanford developed an algorithm that is capable of detecting a person’s sexual orientation with high accuracy on the basis of photos. Some decision-support AIs have turned out to have racial bias and so on.

The above examples are all linked to situations where the application of artificial intelligence raised serious problems. Imre Bárd thinks that in order to avoid such situations as well as to abide by the principles of fairness, transparency and accountability, social regulation of AI is needed.

Just as human decisions may be severely affected by distortions of perception, this might also become relevant for AI. Since in the case of machine learning decision mechanisms are developed on the basis of data, it is vital to make sure that the data fed to the system are of high quality. The representativeness of the population should be ensured as well as its exemption from hidden human bias. In this sense artificial intelligence is the mirror of human thinking and society: the stereotypes inherent in our decisions are unconsciously transferred to the machines.

The principle of transparency serves a dual purpose in regulating AI. It can help us understand the basis on which AI took the decision, but it can also help prevent the establishment of data collection and processing monopolies that would pose a fatal threat to human freedom and autonomous decisions.

Whereas currently available AIs are capable of taking decisions based on pre-learned mechanisms, they are for the time being unable to explain the reason of their decisions in a manner that is understandable to humans. If they are to be entrusted with decisions affecting our destinies, we need to understand the logical bases thereof. In fact, a number of developers are working on AIs that are already capable of providing explanation models to their decision mechanisms. These, however, have not been finalized.

The excessive data mass and the huge data processing capacities raise the spectre of “transparent people”. As Yuval Harari Noah wrote, humans themselves will become hackable. If certain states or major companies are able to collect a sufficient quantity of data on us, the resulting connections and patterns might reveal things that we ourselves might not be aware of. Being in the possession of such knowledge, they can easily manipulate our decisions. Imre Bárd considers the EU’s GDPR to be a positive regulation as it calls ordinary people’s attention to the fact that their data are valuable and they have the right to know who processes them, how and why.

One of the most sensitive points of AI regulation seems to be accountability. Who might be held responsible for any damage caused by AI? Who can be forced to remedy them? These issues are not only exciting from a legal point of view. Legislation models our social values in an imperfect way, answering these questions is therefore partly a moral and value judgment task.

The changes brought about by AI can also be perceived on the labour market. The current trends are expected to continue: more and more jobs will be taken over by machines and server robots from humans. This might create serious social tensions that we should get prepared to address. At the same time changes on the labour market make it possible and necessary to question some of our premises, to rethink the social role of work or the principles of distributing wealth.

Apparently, it is vital to regulate new situations arising from AI: the options range from “hard” legislation through “softer” industrial standards to voluntary corporate guidelines. Developers and lawmakers should prepare for new situations together, the handling of which requires previous attempts. The so-called “legislative playgrounds” representing a protected environment for both the developers and the lawmakers seem to be good initiatives to help come up with joint social and technological solutions over time.

In Imre Bárd’s view, AI governance is primarily not about regulating artificial intelligence, but rather about regulating a world in which artificial intelligence is ubiquitous. We should find out what kind of world we wish to create through it. This is the most important question for the future.


Máté Baksa

Challenge or Solution? Issues of digitization and HR in family enterprises

Hogyan jelenik meg a digitalizáció a családi tulajdonú vállalatoknál? Hogyan érintik ezeket a cégeket a munkaerőpiaci trendek? A Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem Családi Vállalatok Központjának második nemzetközi konferenciáján jártunk március 21-én.

„Emberek és intelligens technológiák – napjainkban valószínűleg ez a két dolog áll leginkább a vállalatvezetők figyelmének középpontjában. Talán még érdekesebb számukra e két kritikus erőforrás kapcsolata, mivel ez túlmutat az egyszerű átváltási logikán, miszerint az egyik helyettesíteni képes a másikat. A digitalizáció ugyanis nemcsak az üzleti modelleket, a termékeket és a folyamatokat változtatja meg, hanem új távlatokat nyit a munkavégzés terén is, amelyben a munkavállalók sem robotok többé. Pont ellenkezőleg, azokkal a feladatokkal foglalkozhatnak, amelyekre a technológia – még jó ideig, vagy talán soha – nem lesz képes.”

A fenti sorokkal invitálták vendégeiket a Családi Vállalatok Központ (CSVK) munkatársai a 2. Nemzetközi Családi Vállalatok Konferenciára. A tavaly óta már hagyománnyá váló konferenciát „Digitalizációs és HR kihívások” alcímmel 2019. március 21-én, a Larus Konferencia Központban tartották meg, több száz magyar és külföldi érdeklődő részvételével. Dr. Wieszt Attila, a CSVK tudományos munkatársa kiemelte, hogy a konferencia két szempontból is egyedülálló volt. Noha a hazai kutatók közül is egyre többen érdeklődnek a családi vállalatok iránt, ez a konferenciasorozat az egyetlen, amely nemzetközi kitekintést és szereplőket is bemutat az előadók körében. Ráadásul ez volt az első olyan konferencia, amely a digitalizáció és HR kérdéseit a családi cégek szemszögéből vizsgálta.

A konferencián a téma három fontos érintetti csoportja találkozott, és mondta el véleményét: a családi vállalatok vezetői, a kutatók és a kormányzati szereplők meglátásait ismerhették meg a résztvevők. Az Egyetem részéről Dr. Gulácsi László tudományos rektorhelyettes, a Felelős Családi Vállalatokért Magyarországon Egyesület részéről pedig Boross Dávid társelnök, az Oázis Kertészeti Kft. társtulajdonosa és ügyvezető igazgatója mondott megnyitó beszédet. György László, az ITM gazdaságstratégiáért és szabályozásért felelős államtitkára a téma gazdaságpolitikai és innovációs jelentőségét emelte ki megnyitó előadásában.

A digitális átalakulás egyszerre állítja kihívások elé a vállalatokat a technológia és az emberek menedzselésének frontján. Ezzel azonban szinte minden szervezet szembesül – miért izgalmas ez a téma a családi tulajdonú vállalatok esetében? A CSVK szerint azért, mert ezek a cégek az átlagosnál sikeresebbek és ellenállóbbak, ugyanakkor jobban jellemző rájuk a stabilitás keresése és a változásokkal szembeni konzervativizmus. Utóbbiak pedig nehezen egyeztethetők össze a robbanásszerű technológiai fejlődéssel. Hogyan tudják kezelni ezeket az ellentmondásokat a tulajdonos vagy vezető szerepben dolgozó családtagok? Milyen változásokat hozhat az újabb generációk belépése a cégbe, és hogyan lehet felkészíteni a család fiatalabb tagjait az új kihívásokra?

A változó technológiai környezet mellett az elmúlt években megváltoztak a munkaerőpiaci trendek is. Magyarországon az átmeneti álláskeresésből adódó frikciós munkanélküliséget nem számítva alig van szabad munkaerő. Ebben a környezetben a családi vállalatok számára is kihívás, hogyan, milyen üzenetekre és intézkedésekre építve tudják megtartani a megbecsült munkatársaikat – akiket egyes esetekben akár a „tágabb család” tagjainak tekinthetnek. Hogyan tudják megszólítani az oktatási rendszerből kikerülő fiatal munkavállalókat, hogy a cég számára hasznosíthassák alaposabb technológiai ismereteiket, tehetségüket és innovációs képességüket? A konferencia előadásai és kerekasztal-beszélgetései e témákat járták körül, e kérdésekre igyekeztek – több szempont bevonásával – válaszokat keresni.

Gabriel A. Brennauer, a Német-Magyar Kereskedelmi és Iparkamara ügyvezető elnökségi tagja előadásában a magyar családi vállalatok előtt álló kihívásokat német és olasz összehasonlításban, saját tapasztalatai alapján értékelte. Rávilágított, hogy amíg Magyarországon a családi vállalkozás kifejezés hallatán az embereknek az egészen kicsi, gyakran gazdasági kényszerből indított helyi cégek (virágárusok, újságosok, fodrászüzletek) jutnak eszébe, addig Németországban és Olaszországban egészen más a helyzet. Ezekben az országokban ugyanis családi tulajdonban vannak például a legnívósabb divatmárkák, élelmiszer- és édesipari manufaktúrák, az ismert autó- és gépgyárak, vagy az Európa-szerte ismert kiskereskedelmi hálózatok. Ez az ismertség pedig nem csak a cégek, de az ott dolgozók számára is presztízst jelent. A magyar családi nagyvállalatok számára ugyancsak megfontolandó lehet e presztízs felépítése: a családi tulajdon sokszor nemcsak kiszámíthatóságot és stabilitást, de a természeti és társadalmi környezettel való harmonikusabb együttműködést is magába foglal – ezek pedig napjainkban egyre fontosabb értékek.

Heinzelmann Virág előadásában a családtagok oktatásának, értékalapú nevelésének és összetartásának jelentőségét mutatta be. A Blanc & Fischer családi holding különleges szerepet tölt be: a számos konyhai és egyéb berendezéssel foglalkozó cégeket tulajdonló Blanc és Fischer családok tagjai, illetve az ő leszármazottjaik vesznek benne részt – Heinzelmann Virág házasság révén lett a család tagja. A holding egy sokgenerációs, több száz tagot számláló tulajdonosi csoport, amelyet szoros rokoni szálak kötnek össze. Heinzelmann Virág azokról a képzési és utazási lehetőségekről, illetve éves rendszeres találkozókról beszélt, amelyek segítenek egyben tartani, és bizonyos fontos értékek felé orientálni ezt a közösséget. A családtagokat nem tiltják, de nem is bátorítják azzal kapcsolatban, hogy a tulajdonolt cégekben vezető tisztségeket vállaljanak: akkor tehetik ezt meg, ha ugyanannyira megfelelnek a feladatnak, mint az, aki kívülről érkezik.

Az ebédszünet után Prof. Dr. Horváth Péter, a CSVK tanácsadó testületének elnöke, az általa vezetett kerekasztal-beszélgetésen Heinzelmann Virág mellett Bíró Zsuzsanna (HR-vezető, Ferzol Kft.) és Gyaraki András (HR-vezető, Regio Játékkereskedelmi Kft.), illetve Szepesi Balázs helyettes államtitkár véleményét kérdezte a családi vállalatok előtt álló HR-kihívásokról. A résztvevők egyetértettek a korábbiakban elhangzott üzenetekkel, a stabilitás és az értékorientáltság fontosságának hangsúlyozásával a munkaerő felvétele és megtartása kapcsán. A Blanc & Fischer esetében például ezen értékek átadása olyan jól sikerült, hogy a vállalat nem családtag vezetői és munkatársai készítettek igényes kiadványt az általuk is osztott erényekről. Gyaraki András azt emelte ki, hogy a HR-rendszerek korszerűsítésében – és általában a szervezet működésében – meg kell találni az optimális arányt, amennyire a családtagok részt vesznek az irányításban: az értékek átvétele fontos, ugyanakkor el kell mozdulni az üzleti és szervezeti kapcsolatok intézményesítése, professzionalizálása felé annak érdekében, hogy a vállalat stabilan növekedni tudjon.

A második kerekasztalt Dr. Drótos György, a CSVK igazgatója vezette, ebben a digitalizáció jelentette kihívásokat járták körül mások mellett Fülöp Szabolcs (Trans-Sped Csoport) és Weissenbacher Emese (Mann+Hummel Holding) részvételével. A digitalizáció miatt egyre növekszik a megfelelő oktatás jelentősége: a szükséges ismereteket a felsőoktatási rendszer csak részben tudja átadni, így a résztvevők egyik megállapítása volt, hogy mind az egyetemi oktatás, mind a vállalati belső képzések további fejlesztésre szorulnak.

Dr. Drótos György záró előadásában a digitalizáció öt kulcsterületére hívta fel a részt vevő kutatók és vállalati szakemberek figyelmét. Ezek (1) az üzleti modellek digitalizációja, (2) a termékek és szolgáltatások digitalizációja, (3) a vevőkapcsolatok digitalizációja, (4) az elsődleges folyamatok és (5) a támogató folyamatok digitalizációja. A digitális átalakulás, a forradalmi technológiák megjelenése miatt ezen öt terület mindegyikén érhetik kihívások a családi vállalatokat. Az előadó szerint a családi vállalatoknak erősségeik, megkülönböztető képességeik függvényében érdemes választaniuk a technológiai megoldások között. Ezek lehetőséget vagy kockázatot is jelenthetnek rájuk nézve. Lehetőség, hogy olyan digitalizációs és HR területeket, ill. megoldásokat részesítsenek előnyben, amelyek megerősítik a családi vállalkozások megkülönböztető képességeit (pl. bizalmi partnerkapcsolatokat erősítő elektronikus kollaborációs felületek, és a rugalmas és minőségi gyártást garantáló Ipar 4.0 rendszerek). Kockázatot jelentenek viszont azok a megoldások, amelyek szembemennek értékeikkel: például a bizalmi szállítói kapcsolatokat felváltó anonim internetes aukciók, vagy aggályosnak tűnő marketingakciók a közösségi médiában, esetleg a túl bürokratikus teljesítménymérés, és a mechanikus, rugalmatlan kompenzációs rendszerek. A családi vállalatoknak tehát stabilitásukat és különlegességüket jelentő családi értékeik alapján ezeket megőrizve, de az új idők jelentette kihívásoknak megfelelve kell változniuk és fejlődniük.

Baksa Máté


Béla Erődi-Harrach Jr

One of the outstanding personalities of the nearly hundred-year history of the Corvinus University of Budapest has been Bála Erődi-Harrach Jr. economist, social politician and professor.

His activities are intimately linked to the first three decades of the university. Erődi-Harrach was born in the municipality of Kunmadaras in 1882 to a bourgeois family. His father, Béla Erődi-Harrach Sr used to be a linguist. Erődi-Harrach Jr studied at the Budapest University of Science (today’s Eötvös University) as well as in Berlin and Halle. He began his career as a teacher of economics and finance at the Trade Academy of Cluj in 1904.

With support from the Cultural Ministry he devised and organized the College Social Estate in 1901 in Újpest (a district of Budapest), later called University Institute of Social Policy, which he directed until 1947. Inspired by the English “settlement” movement, the aim of the Estate was to provide assistance to families living in extreme poverty through establishing personal contacts and making use of them. It also served as an educational and training institution for university students engaged in social services. Besides the social estate, his other major contribution was the project of the Faculty of Economics.

In the autumn of 1917 Erődi-Harrach Jr was invited to write a study defining the tasks, orientation and educational system of the University of Economy. His 36-page study entitled “University of Economy” became published in print and consisted of two main parts. The first part was the general introduction justifying the necessity of setting up such a university. “In order to achieve national well-being, the approach of the economist is required … who through his work is able to fill in the large and all-encompassing framework of national life”. He stresses the responsibility of the managers of enterprises saying that “mass training in economy is needed, as it is the well-trained average gifted people who broaden the roads opened up by the pioneers of advancement and who provide a firm and lasting foundation for the power and well-being of their nation[…] What is needed?” – asked Erődi-Harrach. In his view “the intellectual class who became impoverished and ruined during the war should be helped to get back on its feet”, that is the middle class should be lifted and promoted. He turned out to be right in thinking that “the social question” would determine the everyday life of society and politics.

One of the most interesting and decisive chapters bears the title: “The connection between the university and practical life”. Erődi-Harrach did not consider it to be the university’s task to “substitute or to make up for the practice that is necessary for the profession of the economist”, the graduated student will acquire this on the job. Nevertheless, the practical aspects are of great importance as knowledge and experience with regard to economics are based on the collection and classification of these. Economics “systematizes phenomena, collects the new ones, subjects them to criticism, separates the important from the unimportant, points out the economic and social context, detects and overcomes the errors committed at the practical level. Science […] emerges and develops from this process cycle, in parallel with life. These disciplines require a higher intellectual institute where they can be duly cultivated, interdisciplinarity can be achieved and passed on to wider circles”.

Having clarified these questions, he then addresses the university curriculum and the educational system in the second part of his study. He starts from the complexity of economic life and economic science, but in his view in education reality should be described in terms of the current state of science. With veritable positivist thoroughness he prepared the subject schedule including all the relevant disciplines, of which he even attached a table. One should however avoid teaching this knowledge, these disciplines in an encyclopaedic manner, without the relevant correlations. He listed altogether 25 subjects coming under five groups1. Although the list reflects his belief in victory at war, the subject list can still be considered to be modern. With regard to language instruction it is worth mentioning that English is not included among the Western languages preferred in world economy and word trade. Among the Eastern languages the languages of the Balkans, Turkish, Russian and Arabic are mentioned. The instruction of Western languages is modelled upon the system introduced at the Eötvös Collegium, that is by employing native speaker teachers.

Erődi-Harrach suggested that practical training should take place in small-groups, led by lecturers, assistant lecturers and assistants. He included the establishment of model offices as a form of practical training. Among the training tools priority should be given to a system of libraries consisting of a central unit and a network of seminar libraries. Practical training is to be supported also by various laboratories, experimental estates and practical institutes. An example of the latter is the College Social Estate that he set up in Újpest. Under his proposal, university studies should last 8 semesters, during which an average of 18-24 compulsory classes should be attended. In the course of four years, two comprehensive exams should be passed: at the end of the second academic year the basic examination, at the end of the fourth year the final examination upon which the diploma would be issued. Erődi-Harrach does not specify the name of the qualification. By contrast, he does so in the section called “Doctorate” where he explains that qualification is not subject to obtaining the “Doctor of Economics” title, the latter being a scientific degree. The doctoral rigorosum or final exam would consist of one main subject and three minor subjects. The main subjects would be different for farmers, mining engineers and forest managers. This is where he describes that these subjects would also have the corresponding departments at the university, that is besides agricultural training, mining and forestry would also be added to the university’s programs. This aspiration is quite understandable owing to the organizational and infrastructural developments that took place in the largest mining town of the Hungarian Kingdom, Selmecbánya (today’s Banska Štavnica in Slovakia) at the beginning of the century. During the war, however, the university ran out of students, the institution became empty.

The study devotes an entire section to the connection between the university and the commercial academies. Out of the four major institutions operating in this epoch, the two state-run academies should be integrated into the structure of the new university, the Eastern Commercial Academy and the Export Academy of Fiume (today Rijeka in Croatia). This would not only be cost-effective and spare money, but would also offer synergies owing to the aggregation of intellectual potential. Out of the two other academies, the Budapest Commercial Academy could be a competitor to the university in the positive sense of the word and as such would survive the university’s establishment. By contrast, his opinion about the college-level education offered at the Commercial Academy of Kolozsvár (today’s Cluj in Romania) was devastating: “totally lacking the appropriate economic environment, it has for years languished like a plant in a greenhouse and will sooner or later close, therefore the new university does not need to take it into account”. Students having completed a certain number of semesters at the academies would be permitted to obtain a degree after two additional years of study at the university, and subsequently a doctorate.

Finally, the study briefly addresses the issue of financing on which the author simply says: the existing capital, i.e. the 1917 donation from the Hangya Szövetkezet (producers’, distributors’ and consumers’ co-operative) complemented by the annual 240,000 crown maintenance costs of the four academies, plus a donation of 5-6 million crowns would be sufficient for construction and maintenance purposes.

The significance of his project lies in the fact that in October 2018 it was submitted to the last Hungarian king, Charles IV as the plan of the future University of Economics. The collapsing Monarchy, however, buried the project under itself. It resurfaced at the end of 1919 and was applied meticulously in establishing the Economic Faculty of the Royal Hungarian University of Science. In the new institution Erődi-Harrach was active for a whole era: he taught Economics and Social Policy between 1920 and 1944 as well as served as Dean in the 1926/1927 and 1943/1944 academic years. On 11 November 1944 the far-right Arrow Cross Party arrested him, transported him to the military prison at Sopronkőhida and later to Bavaria. He returned to Hungary in August 1945 and was retired in 1949.

As witnessed from the above description, through his activities, career and commitment, Erődi-Harrach Jr earned imperishable merits in the establishment and functioning of the Faculty of Economics, therefore is considered and remembered as one of the founding fathers of the faculty besides Pál Teleki, Elemér Almási Balogh, István Korláti Bernáth and others.

Vilmos Zsidi

1The five groups of subjects: A) Cultural Sciences, B) Theoretical Economics, C) Economic Policy, D) Law, E) Natural Sciences.
Individual subjects: 1. Philosophy, 2. Economic History, 3. Languages, 4. Private Economics, 5. Structure, Organization and Basic Issues of Economics, 6. World Economics, 7. Statistics, 8. Sociology, 9. Agricultural Policy, 10. Industrial Policy, 11. Trade Policy, 12. Social Issues and Social Policy, 13. Social Healthcare, 14. Co-operative models and Co-operative Policy, 15. Finances, 16. Current Issues of World Politics, 17. General Civil Law, 18. Administrative Law, 19. Trade Law, 20. Loan Law (bankruptcy, promissory notes), 21. Transport Law (Patents and Patent Law, Railway Law), 22. Consular Law, consular courts), 23. Legal Institutions of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 24. Geographical Economics, 25. Mechanical and Chemical Technologies

Közgazdasági Egyetem (University of Economics) by Béla Erődi-Harrach. Publication of the College Social Estate. Budapest, 1918.

A közgazdasági kar létesítésének története (History of the Establishment of the Faculty of Economics) . In: Organizational and Study Regulations of the Faculty of Economics of the Royal Hungarian University of Science of Budapest. Second edition. Budapest., 1921.7.ff

István Michalik: Küzdelem az önálló egyetemi szintű közgazdászképzésért (Struggle for Autonomous University-Level Training in Economics. In: Studies on the History of Hungarian Higher Education in Economics. The presentations of the scientific conference entitled „The 75 year-old first faculty of economics in Hungary”. Editors: László Szögi- Vilmos Zsidi. Budapest, 1995. (Publication of the Archives of CUB) pp. 48-82

Vilmos Zsidi: The History of the Faculty of Economics of Budapest. ibidem pp 83-98

Antal Lombos: Humanist Heritage in Újpest. The Memory of the Újpest Settlement. Part 1. In: Újpesti Helytörténeti Értesítő March 2017 volume XXIV, issue 1, pp 4-6

Photo: Historic Photo Archives of the Hungarian National Museum


From Corvinus to Stanford and Yale: „There were examples to be followed”

Kovács Balázs

Balázs Kovács sociologist, network researcher, lecturer at the Yale School of Management. He earned his PhD at Stanford University, his articles are published in top international scholarly journals. He had graduated from Corvinus University and used to be member of the Rajk College of Advanced Studies. We interviewed him on his exceptional professional career and current research themes.

You had received your diploma in Economics and Sociology from Corvinus, then pursued doctoral studies at Stanford. How did the opportunity come?
It meant a lot that when I was a third and fourth year student, I saw at the Rajk College of Advanced Studies that others went abroad to do a PhD. If this had not been the case, it might not have occurred to me that a doctorate and a research career were realistic options. This way, however, I realized that I would be interested, too. Later when I spent a semester in Groningen owing to an Erasmus and discussed the issue with others there, I was intrigued to do something similar.

The first idea was to apply to the Netherlands, like many others did. That is how it all began. When I looked into the application procedure, it turned out that whereas in Europe applications were received in the spring, in the US this was in the autumn. I said to myself: what if I applied to the US first and if I get rejected there, I will try Europe in the Spring. It so happened that I was admitted. I applied to 13-14 places in the US, everywhere for Sociology, except to Stanford. In fact, Professor László Pólos, whose Organization Theories course I attended at the Eötvös University, suggested that I should rather go for a PhD in Organizational Theory at a Business School. He knew a number of persons at Stanford and recommended me to them, that is why I applied at all. Although I was admitted elsewhere as well, I chose this and as far as I see now, it was a sound decision.

Could you make use of your background in Sociology during the program?
Yes, two out of my three supervisors were sociologists. It had also been suggested that the choice between the two disciplines would not really matter as there were many overlaps. As a matter of fact, I also attended the Organization Theory classes held by Miklós Dobák and Károly Balaton at Corvinus and when I was already at Stanford I received a letter from them saying that they would be visiting. It transpired that they paid a visit to Stanford every three years to talk with the people there, to check out the library and to find out what was going on in the world. So I met them there, too.

How did the topic of your doctoral thesis take shape?
What is good about a business school is that you can compile your dissertation by uniting three articles. This is not possible in Sociology, where you are expected to write a book. I could have managed that as well, but I guess it was better the other way. The underlying question of my topic was to what extent organizations are alike, who emulates who, how do strategic innovations spread. How far do you wish to resemble others and to be different. If an organization differs too much, it will not be taken seriously. If on the other hand it is very similar, it does the same thing as others and loses its competitive edge. The question therefore is: what is the optimal distance from the others? I analysed and wrote about how this could be measured and what the implications were.

Later on, you started to work at the University of Italian Switzerland: How did this ensue from the doctorate at Stanford?
The practical consideration was that when I went to the university job fair in the autumn of 2008, the economic crisis was at its height and jobs were not to be found anywhere. As a rule, PhD programs last for five years and job applications should be submitted in the summer between the fourth and the fifth year. I applied to 40-50 places and received a number of invitations for job interviews that were to take place in November-December. Half of them were cancelled due to the hiring freeze implemented at the universities, there were no open positions. This coincided in time with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. In the US there is a rule in place at universities, especially the private ones, that a maximum of 3% of the founders’ assets may be spent on operating costs. If the stock exchange falls, the value of their assets depreciate and as a consequence, the budget also decreases. Actually the rule is not too sensible as while Stanford for instance had 20 billion dollars in the bank, it introduced a total freeze on hiring, it could have instead gained a competitive advantage from recruiting people.

I received an offer from Switzerland and went there. Had I insisted on staying in the US, I could surely have remained there, I could have done a postdoctorate or something like that. Lugano however attracted me. Although the university itself is not that famous, the department I was engaged by was excellent, among the top three in Europe in organizational theory. And they paid better than elsewhere. I worked there for six years altogether, at first I would not have thought to stay for such a long time. Life there was good, the place combined the advantages of Switzerland and Italy: food was delicious, I was surrounded by palm trees. The only downside was that I felt the city too small which disturbed me. But there was money for research, the teaching load was manageable and the colleagues were nice.

How did you after all get to Yale?
I was searching for opportunities along the way. The more you publish, the more there are. This model works well, additionally who you know is also important. But if one has no publications, everything is futile.

How could your past at Corvinus and Rajk support your career path?
When I went to Corvinus, the program had still lasted for five years. It took me six years to graduate as while I was in the Netherlands, I took a year off from Corvinus. It was great that the program did not end after three years like for instance the Bachelor studies in England. In my view that is too short. At 18 you start to party and by the time you wake up, the whole thing is over. Joking aside, one needs time to find out what one is interested in, what one would like to deal with. It was nice that I had the opportunity to try out everything during the five years. I went to various classes, I could select from a much broader offer than I could have in the US and or Western Europe where you have to specialize to a greater degree. The fact that I have a wider ranging vision than many of my colleagues can be attributed to this, which is more of a Central-East European trait than a specific Corvinus or Rajk feature. In this region, university staff are less focused on specific areas, which has both its advantages and disadvantages. Anyway, it is an essential difference.

At the university though not every class had been useful, I learned various things from various people. Most importantly, there was time and opportunity to take varied elective classes. And as I have mentioned, there were examples to be followed at Rajk, people I could actually ask how this or that could be done, what were the difficulties, what you needed to keep in mind.

How close is your relationship with the Rajk community, how active are the alumni?
As far as I can see, they are very active and I am also in touch. Especially with members from my own year and one or two years before and after me. If I enter the College, I don’t know anyone save two or three persons. We however receive the newsletters and are in touch. When alumni working abroad come home, they are invited to hold a two-three day mini-seminar involving intensive work on a specific topic. I myself held such a seminar a few years ago.

How do you see the situation of Hungarian higher education and that of Corvinus on the basis of your international experience? What are our strengths that can be built upon, what needs to be developed?
This question involves many layers. What is outstanding, or rather used to be outstanding in Hungary is secondary school education. Having met the students of Stanford and Yale, I would say that one third of the Corvinus students could go there without a problem. Simply because of their secondary school education, their knowledge. The human element is excellent at Corvinus.

Having said this, I see secondary level education deteriorating in Hungary, moreover an increasing number of students continue their studies abroad after the baccalaureate. This might result in difficulties for the universities, accessing the best students will become harder. The phenomenon can also be witnessed at Yale: some of the bachelor-level students cannot write and formulate their ideas properly, as they are not used to doing so. They think in terms of Facebook posts.

Tuition fees are obviously no good, as while paying hundreds of thousand forints each term might be an issue for many, the amounts involved do not constitute such a great burden for the state budget. The university could try to attract corporate scholarships to ease the burden on students with social needs, say by approaching alumni. I think that the number of places with state scholarship is low, in certain specialities only very few students receive it. This may weaken the university’s competitive position: if a student realizes that he or she can study in the Netherlands for free or in Austria for about the same amount, he or she will weigh the options. I see this as a problem which the university could be active in solving.

What is the situation with respect to research and teaching?
The problem is that things are interrelated. I witness among my acquaintances who teach at Corvinus that their lecturing burden is huge, sometimes they are required to teach 12-14 hours a week. I know that this can be put down to a lack of resources. It is clear, however, that lecturers are overburdened, they have less time for each student and less time to do research. This is difficult to change, but is a key difference compared to US universities: in Hungary lecturers have much less energy for individual students and individual subjects.

Your professional interests are diverse, you publish in numerous subjects. Which are the most important among them, what topics are you working on currently?
I am interested in many things, perhaps my interests should be more focused, but I tend to get bored if I always deal with the same topic. Broadly speaking I am engaged in Economic Sociology, in its various areas, mostly in phenomena observable in the online world. I use for instance online reviews to understand how companies position themselves, what they say about themselves to customers. Today a vast amount of data is available that was not accessible before. The article I am currently working on focuses on this. When people provide online reviews, for instance on hotels or restaurants, they give a score, a number of stars and write a text. I am trying to find out how the text relates to the score. In fact, it is not uncommon that someone describes a place as the best Italian restaurant of his or her life and gives it four or three stars. In such cases I wonder when he or she would give five. I am attempting to examine what the reasons might be, whether there is something systematic in the background. This is important since everything that establishes a rank does so by averaging the scores. If, however, the scores do not reflect what people really think, we have a problem, our tool does not measure correctly. Can we forecast quality on the basis of the text better than on the basis of scores? One can mine data, identify the key words that suggest the underlying meaning. That is what I have been working on recently.

In this respect it is also exciting to find out on what basis people find others’ opinions reliable. It seems, for instance, that fake profiles are given less credit. Views that are pronounced in one’s own name have more influence on us even if we don’t agree otherwise. This is interesting because it is believed that we tend to listen to people who think like us. This being true, it seems however that even if you are aware that the other is different but he or she is a real person that you can associate with something, you will listen more. It follows that it is more useful to require adding your name on forums and review platforms.

What would your message be to a young researcher, to a fresh PhD student?
First, you should read extensively and talk to various people. As you get older, you narrow down and if you miss the opportunity early on, you will miss it altogether. You won’t feel good and your articles won’t be good either. Second, you should not rush things. Many people say at the beginning of their twenties: I am focusing, I am focusing, I am not doing anything else, I have to study. Later on, however, it will be increasingly hard to do something else. At twenty you can take a gap year, go abroad. If you already teach, do research and have children, it will become much more complicated. Also, you should try your hand at many things, which however I guess they already know.

Máté Baksa


Decentralized Solutions to Cooperation Dilemmas – the benefits of a financial network model in everyday life

On a peaceful weekend morning, I sat down to talk to Péter Csóka, researcher of the Department of Investments and Corporate finance about his frequently mentioned article published in Management Science, one of the top ten scholarly journals on strategy and management. What is behind the success, what are the takeaways?

Finance for financial experts or something else?
The title of the article “Decentralized clearing in financial networks” is not very comely to the layman. Economists with less affinity towards Finance might turn the page, but are ill advised in doing so. The article by Péter Csóka and his former Dutch PhD supervisor Jean-Jacques Herings draws conclusions that might be used in numerous wakes of life. The model that had originally been devised by the authors to analyse financial networks helped prove that in a large number of cases circular indebtedness could be addressed through decentralized clearing procedures as efficiently as if centralized clearing procedures were used. As a result, it is not necessary to collect sensitive data from numerous agents and operate a slow, expensive and costly mechanism.

In what areas of life could the findings be applied?
The findings of the article could be used by universities in exchanging students with other universities, in offices in managing IT server capacities, in the context of supply chains between companies, in coordinating the time management of multi-partner projects, in art treasure investments, in defining the number of MPs of political constituencies in an equitable manner or to return to the university: in allocating thesis evaluations to colleagues. Péter Csóka and Jean-Jacques Herings actually claim that if certain conditions apply, the community can find just as good solutions at system level as if the information was collected centrally and agents were prompted as to what they should do to achieve the best solution.

How to convey these valuable results to the largest possible number of potentially interested parties?
Péter Csóka is also very active in the area of the dissemination of scientific findings. He had made sure to publish the first version of the article as a working paper to promote it well before it was printed in an international journal roughly two years after its completion. They had it featured in various lists, they had it posted among others on RePEc, LinkedIn and Kudos and it also came to show up on at the top of relevant Google searches. The effort paid off as it prompted the CEO of a blockchain consortium to get in touch. Further reflection on the potential implications led to updating the article, thus rendering it even more compelling. They authors featured the topic at several conferences and made sure that participants could read the working paper prior to the event in order to prepare them for exchanges.

Success was brought about by the constellation of a number of factors. First, Péter Csóka works a lot, often up to 58 hours a week, he is a member of a constructive Hungarian and international community. His former PhD supervisor is also very active, publishes extensively and is a true role model for Péter. Second, Péter simultaneously works on 8-10 scientific papers which are in different stages from creation to publication. He writes these articles with a co-author and is on excellent terms with each co-author, he likes to be with them, think with them and talk to them: as a matter of fact, it means more to him than work in the strict sense of the term. He co-operates with his MSc and PhD students as well. Moreover, his activities strengthen each other through synergies: all his publications, university lectures, thesis consultation seminars are linked to his favourite research topics. With heart and soul, efficiently, that is where the secret lies, at least at first sight…

Miklós Kozma
Department of Business Studies


Personalized investment advice through a robot’s X-ray vision?

I talked to Árpád Rab associate professor of the Corvinus University of Budapest , researcher of the Infocommunications Institute about a research project involving several departments and companies and dealing with the authenticated evaluation of financial products and services with the aim of offering personalized investment services.

VKE Dorsum, a co-operation between Netmedia and the Corvinus University of Budapest
(VKE 2018) is a major research project (led by Péter Fehér, Trinh Anh Tuan, Michael Puhle and Zsolt Ződi). Árpád Rab who is in charge of a specific research line, accorded us an interview on his specific responsibilities. The challenge for him is to be able to provide artificial-intelligence aided personalized investment advice on the basis of various data without violating the privacy of the subjects. The future service based on the findings of the current research will also benefit people who are not familiar with the world of investments. As for banks and financial intermediaries, the application of the right algorithms will allow them to identify the kind of offer that might be of interest to their existing and future customers. From the viewpoint of banks, the project focuses on marketing and keeping customers.

The question is how to tell which business products each of us views positively from our actions in the digital space.
Árpád Rab’s task in the project relates to this aspect, i.e. profiling. Ordinary people have different approaches to money. The challenge is to find out how an unknown person thinks about the issue, what services and how he or she likes to use judging from his or her previous behaviour. In the first major phase of the work, the researchers will process the data collected among others through online surveys to identify personality types.

Árpád Rab considers this task as a mission for social science
insofar as the discovery of humans’ digital behaviour might lead to revealing a number of major correlations, thus goes way beyond the current narrower research objectives. In fact, the question is how each of us exists in the digital space, how we like to take decisions, how real or malicious we perceive digital space to be, how far we take responsibility for our actions taken in the digital space. As a first key outcome of the project, based on the analysis of financial behaviour, the researchers will identify five to ten personality profiles. The development of the related software and of the AI algorithms is also underway. Later on, a mobile application and an online platform will also become available to support the product.

The scale of the project is larger than that of a classical advisory assignment,
as here during the profiling researchers also reach individuals who are not considering to invest. These persons might finally not be receiving investment offers from the bank, but rather be approached with other types of products like account packages, pension arrangements. Moreover, the researchers envisage creating a business assistant to help individual users take decisions, something that extends far beyond the offers of individual banks. Árpád Rab added that in the developed societies of our age, developments were pointing in this direction.

The partners of the Corvinus Fintech Center will be involved in the scientific and social dissemination of the results,
they will receive them first-hand. Besides creating a business product, researchers representing the university plan to produce new scientific results too, especially in the areas of developing AI algorithms, in taking digital profiling to a new level, in supporting marketing objectives. University staff currently working together in the framework of the project have not been hired by a company, but take part in joint reflection, influence each other’s perceptions, inspire each other. Owing to the effort, a new manner of scientific dialogue is about to emerge among adjacent disciplines represented at the university.

Miklós Kozma
Department of Business Studies


Quest for Progressive Business – Interview with Dr Eleanor O’Higgins

Progressive Business Models: Creating Sustainable and Pro-Social Enterprise, a recently published book endeavors no less than to define and demonstrate by several business case studies what progressive business truly means. These cases prove that it is possible to be profitable and prosperous and at the same time ecologically sustainable, future respecting, and prosocial. The book was edited by Dr Eleanor O’Higgins, professor of University College of Dublin and London School of Economics and by Dr Laszlo Zsolnai, professor of Corvinus University of Budapest. We asked Dr O’Higgins about the creation, objectives and contents of this book.

What did inspire you to write this book? Why did you find it important?
Well, I think there were a couple of influences. Both Laszlo and I are interested in sustainability and corporate social responsibility, also in new ways of corporations behaving in a prosocial way. As I had written some case studies before, Laszlo got the idea that we should collaborate. Partly because of our special interest in the topic of sustainability, but also because of our ambition to look at particular cases. Our ambition was to comprise a book of cases that are exemplars for new business models for the future. Laszlo himself is very prolific in terms of publishing, he takes a lot of initiatives, he likes to run with new ideas. So, it was his idea to do a book about it. Once he proposed his idea, I thought it was a great one, worth working on. We both have contacts in different countries who are also interested in these issues. These are contacts from companies or contacts who would know of companies that are creating new ways of doing business that we call progressive. So, we contacted our various friends and authors to ask if they have any ideas, and if they would like to participate.

What were your selection criteria regarding authors and cases?
There was a core of people that both Laszlo and I know. Because like Corvinus, UCD is in the CEMS group of management schools and we have an interfaculty group for business ethics, many of our authors came from this group. They are people whom we know, whom we have known over several years. They were natural first people for us. Then we had other contacts beyond this group. For instance, I had a colleague in the United States with whom I did some work together in the past. He would be a friend of the CEO of Unilever, a very progressive company, so that worked out well. Also, sometimes people in the group were too busy to write the case, but they referred a colleague.

The first chapter of the book focuses on the definition of progressive business. What is it in a nutshell?
Let me quote from the book. ‘Progressive business is understood as ecologically sustainable, future respecting, and prosocial enterprise.’ What we call ecologically sustainable, is sort of obvious: we mean the physical and ecological Earth system that should be sustainable. Future respecting means that we want our Earth to continue in similar ways, so we want the notion of sustainability and future go together. Prosocial means that we, human beings, live in society and we want to serve the enrichment of societies. So, these are companies that uphold those three principles. The first principle says that business activities may not harm nature or allow others to come to harm. The second principle says that business activities must respect the freedom of future generations. And the third one says that business activities must serve the wellbeing of people. One would hope that the three principles are consistent with each other and that they should be served in a way that they do not conflict with each other. That is, you hope that by sustaining nature at the same time you are not harming society and vice versa.

Is it connected to the triple bottom line concept of CSR and responsible corporate governance?
Only very vaguely connected. CSR is often seen as something tacked on to a business. It is a program you have, but it is not fundamental to your business. In our book, we delineate new business models, new ways of doing business, so that the whole way the activity system or the business model that the company uses is totally integrated with those three principles. Again, it is a different way of doing business altogether. So, while CSR seems to be a voluntary option, this is part and parcel of the everyday business of the company. And the company is totally involved. I am not saying that CSR is bad, but it is not great, it seems to be but an optional extra.

Could the good practices in these case studies be transferred to other businesses? Could these be used by corporate leaders to recreate their business model?
I would say that our cases are all very different. They are different in the ways of being progressive. It is not a one-size-fits-all model. For example, our Spanish case, which I like very much, is a major insurance company. It established a foundation to try to integrate people who are disabled into the workforce. They had people who were disabled to work for them and they discovered that these people made a great contribution, so, in fact, they were not doing them a favor. They did the work. In fact, they were almost more enthusiastic and appreciative of what they were doing than able-bodied employees. It worked out so well that it became a training center and they were able to train more and more disabled people who went to work for other companies. In a sense, it took off. This is but one example of what a company has done.

Another company, an Austrian one in agriculture, does everything organic and natural. It employs a lot of people. It seeks some sort of harmony with nature. So, it does not operate based on efficiency and productivity, that is, we need to employ the least people for the greatest output. It rather looks at employing a lot of people and thereby using people creatively. So those are two quite different companies I can name. Thus, you will not get an exact template that every single company can follow. But I think that by looking at these cases one would hope that people could be inspired. Business leaders could be inspired to revisit their business and look at some of these principles.

Nonetheless, there are some commonalities even though they are very different cases. Like the notion of sustainability, the notion of frugality in a sense that you do not waste things, you recycle and do not manufacture or make unnecessary things that you do not really need. Another commonality is leadership. That all the companies seemed to have an inspired leader or a leader who was like a missionary about what they were doing. Sometimes leadership moved into future generations of leaders. They might have had an original leader but then they got another leader who took over the reins with the same zeal. So, as I see it, there are no templates, but certain principles that somebody who wants to create a progressive business or transform an existing business into a progressive one can follow.

What kind of impact do you expect for your book?
Well, we do hope that the book will be used in teaching, as case studies lend themselves to it. Also, the way we structured the book: every case and every chapter at the end of it has a series of questions that a class of students or participants can consider. Like what are the lessons that we have learnt from this case. We also expect to be a great pedagogical tool for postgraduate students, and of course, executive education. Now, the book is quite an expensive one. This is one of its drawbacks, I must say, although, the publishers have given discounts on it. Also, the online version is cheaper, and it is possible to buy selected chapters online. In this way, even to buy the first and the last chapters and maybe one or two case studies is possible. We hope that it would be used by students who will later become business leaders or managers or decision makers, and by postgraduate students who are in executive education and currently present in companies. So, ultimately, the purpose of the book would be to disseminate our ideas in companies.

What are you currently working on, what are your latest research topics?
Well, along the lines of this book, I also do some work at the London School of Economics. I do some supervisions of minor research dissertations for master students. One of my master students, who happens to be Canadian like myself originally, had her research on B corporations. It is a movement that mainly started in the United States, but that is now present in the UK and other countries. These are companies that try to create responsible business. And again, which is important that this is the foundation of their business. The B corporations are certified, and B stands for benefit. It is a very similar genre, if you like, to progressive business models. Beyond that, with one of my CEMS colleagues, we are looking at interviewing leaders of progressive businesses as a research project. Further, Laszlo and I are contributing a paper on Future Earth Leadership to the next Transatlantic Business Ethics Conference in November. This paper draws on the concept of progressive business models and how courageous business leaders with novel vision and moral imagination transform their business organizations to stabilize life-conditions on Earth.

Apart from that, I am also doing some work on professional ethics with accountants. We are planning to understand ethics in financial corporations and the kinds of attitudes you get. Since the financial crisis and all the scandals, people in the financial corporations here and in the US must sign a statement about their ethics and compliance with certain ethical standards. We are going to look at to what extent they identify personally with these statements. Do they see it as personal identity to be ethical or is it just a matter of compliance? We are going to use my background as a psychologist, as I can use various special structured interviewing techniques to try to get deeper, in-depth sort of feelings on identification and so on. In similar vein, a colleague in the Finance area in UCD and I are looking at ethical identity of bankers, taking account of the financial crisis 10 years ago, and how badly Ireland was affected by it.

Baksa Máté


Populism from the right and from the left – where is the world heading? This year Dani Rodrik received the John von Neumann award conferred by the Rajk László College for Advanced Studies

At the invitation of the Rajk László College for Advanced Studies of the Corvinus University of Budapest, Dani Rodrik professor of the Harvard University gave a talk on 16 May 2018 on the occasion of receiving the John von Neumann Award granted by the students of the college.

The professor started by saying that long-standing globalization trends have suffered a political backlash in the past years and this phenomenon has apparently led to concerns among economists. Rodrik said that twenty years ago he had already drawn attention to the fact that globalization was not necessarily sustainable politically as serious social tensions were slumbering beneath the surface.

Why has the phenomenon of emerging globalization triggered populist reactions?
In his structured response the professor noted that within the fabric of society a serious economic gap opened up which raises issues of fairness, fundamental values, the proper representation of certain groups. Although globalization in economic terms has increased the size of the whole cake, i.e. the wealth that created and shared among the various groups of society, the problem is not only that certain groups received a much bigger slice, it is also that large sections of society get a much smaller slice than before. Globalization has turned out to be increasingly redistributive and therefore subject to political challenge. Moreover, employers have gained greater dominance over employees. In fact, whereas most of the barriers limiting the free movement of capital have ceased, the free movement of labour is still restricted both legally and in practical terms. As a result, groups of workers with less bargaining power have been predominantly exposed to the effects of economic shocks. Concerns about the fairness of competition have over time led to market competition losing largely its social legitimation: due to deficiencies in regulation, not every actor competes under the same rules, thereby questioning the outcome of competition.

What is the nature of social issues, who are we to blame?
This question is in the centre of populist counterattacks against globalization. In search of an answer, different narratives have emerged. The so-called left-wing populist answer is that banks, multinational companies, the International Monetary Fund, and generally the rich are responsible for social inequalities and the corruption of common values. Right wing populists, on the other hand, hold the minorities and foreigners accountable for our worsening fortunes. The professor pointed out that these were not random answers stemming from the indignation of certain politicians, but were historically embedded narratives that are present with different undertones in each country. The good, the bad and the ugly: these are the possible future scenarios according to Dani Rodrik. The „good” scenario involves democratic readjustments of societies in the years to come, tends towards reducing inequalities and stronger national self-determination. The „bad” scenario predicts global collapse similar to the one experienced in the 1930s as a result of decline in economic co-operation. Finally, the „ugly” scenario suggests that underlying tensions will undermine the institutional system of liberal democracy. In the light of the above, the professor’s interpretation of the numerous developments of the next few years will be worth following in order to seize the opportunities that might take us in the right direction.

Miklós Kozma
Department of Business Studies


What have you done, Zuckerberg? Round-table on data protection

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force in the European Union on 25 May following a transition period of two years. Besides unifying so far fragmented data protection rules existing in various forms, the regulation gives more say to users, thereby conferring more responsibility on them, but at the same time provides greater protection to their data.

Owing partly to the fact that in the last decade a growing number of scandals surfaced about large amounts of personal data becoming accessible, the news of the implementation of the regulation reached the broader public. The latest scandal receiving wide media attention involved Cambridge Analytica, a British data analysing firm which became reputed for claiming that they brought Donald Trump’s campaign to a successful conclusion using big data, i.e. by possessing the data of 87 million persons. The case involves Facebook and thus Mark Zuckerberg, as many think that they did not handle users’ personal data strictly enough. Since then, Zuckerberg has already appeared before the European Parliament where he talked about the measures they were planning to take and were already implementing against manipulations and data abuse as well as assured the sceptical MEPs about Facebook’s compliance with GDPR.

At the beginning of May, the Institute of Sociology and Social Policy staged a roundtable discussion on data protection and the risks associated with Big Data in the light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The invited experts, Karolina Mojzesowicz and Anna Vancsó addressed the question of what could happen to our personal data when using social media websites and online platforms, applications, as well as what we can do to protect our data and how Hungarian and EU legislation protect users. The discussion was moderated by Ágnes Győr journalist. Karolina Mojzesowicz is Deputy Head of the European Commission’s unit in charge of data protection (DG Justice and Consumers), Anna Vancsó is a PhD student of the Institute and senior analyst at Neticle Labs.

The roundtable organized by the Institute was opened by István Vilmos Kovács Director of International Relations and Innovation. Going back to his university years he said that in those times data science had not been so much in the forefront, that big data had not even been in a state of infancy. Today, we create a vast amount of data every minute and it is better not to think about our data footprint: if we are conscious and mindful users, we need not be constantly worried about what might transpire about us. In Mr Kovács’s view, data cannot only be misused, but can also be put to good use, like for instance in the university environment in the form of instant feedbacks during presentations, the real-time display of questions from the audience.

In her presentation Karolina Mojzesowicz summarized the contents of GDPR, the new data protection regulation. The European Union wishes to deal with shocking cases like that of Cambridge Analytica and to prevent the dissemination of disinformation by reinforcing data protection. In order to achieve this, differences in data protection rules between the member states should be dismantled and harmonized, thus clarifying and modernizing rules existing at the member state level. The GDPR contains directly applicable rules which must be met by all entities operating in any of the EU’s member states that handle the data of European Union citizens. It also applies to companies outside the European Union whose goods and services target the member states.

Mojzesowicz also stressed that the entities, companies themselves must ensure compliance with the rules of the GDPR. The handling of sensitive data such as sexual orientation, religion, political views and health data imposes more responsibility on the entities, these can only be used and stored under strict conditions. One of the important benefits of the regulation is that users have greater control over exactly who, how, for what purpose and how long may use or store the data provided by them. Information must be transparent, extensive and easily understandable.

Anna Vancsó pointed out that we use numerous freely accessible services and although we don’t pay money in exchange for their use, we provide our data. In fact, these personal data are valuable for service providers like Facebook and Google that offer their services free of charge. Neticle Labs, a company focusing on media monitoring, media analysis as well as the analysis of online comments, encounters many cases in which it is hard to determine how to act correctly. If, for instance, someone features in the analyzed content with his/her whole name, is it to be protected as personal data? We cannot be sure whether he/she is included with his/her whole name intentionally. We live in an age of visibility, sharing, we could even state that “what is not there on Facebook has not even happened”. The question is whether others can be limited, controlled with the sole objective of protecting them if this is not our responsibility.

With respect to the use of data Anna Vancsó added that many consider big data as dangerous as all our data have now become more visible, more accessible, but big data can be just as useful: The huge databases that are available can be used for good purposes, among others in cancer research and similar areas of social interest. In most cases, individuals are not reluctant to provide their data: with the spread of smart devices an increasing number of applications is appearing, the downloading of which implies giving an automatic consent for their data to be handled. In the US in 2016 it was shown that the time spent on phone applications decreased with age (source: Statista), but these statistics do not include under 18s who are known to spend even more time on phone applications than older generations. Under 18s cannot be expected to act as responsible consumers, namely that they will consciously read the terms of use and privacy policy of the application or the website they are using.

During the roundtable discussion Anna Vancsó stressed that the key issue with respect to data protection was trust: how does one decide whether to trust a company, entity, service provider? In the European Union up to now several institutional rules on data protection were in force and the degree of trust of the society in the various countries also varies. Data stealing unfortunately occurs quite often: databases with personal data often get leaked in such a way that they become accessible to even those who have little experience. Vancsó said that the scandal related to Facebook became so widely known because it was linked to a political campaign.

Karolina Mojzesowicz said that there is a difference in the way the various generations protect their data: older generations are often unaware that in many cases the use of a pseudonym is not sufficient since in the course of analyzing comments it is not the name, but rather a couple of characteristic phrases that make the person easily identifiable.

The contributors ended the roundtable by underlining the responsibility of private individuals. As an example, with the spread of cloud-based storage spaces many people store data on others in the cloud. Each of us is responsible for preventing anyone from accessing these data.

Borbála Szczuka