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The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy: Corporate Sustainability Meets Karma

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Leadership & Transparency
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By Anum Yoon

In the corporate world – and even in our personal lives – “more” is frequently considered better. When a company meets its benchmarks and goals, it should set new, higher goals. When profits reach a target level, the company should adjust its strategy to increase those profits. It’s a cycle that has always been around and has only grown with the onset of a global economy.

What if there was another way?

The effects of the 'more is better' economic philosophy


Many people benefit from a “more is better” outlook on the corporate economy. Jobs are created, prices drop as competition increases and futures for those involved with the economy are secured.

This is where many corporations rest their cases. The more successful their brands become, the better off everyone will be in the long run, right? According to a different philosophy, that of the sufficiency economy and corporate sustainability, this view is based on greed.

When an individual or corporation is always searching for more, that search is routed in greed. By definition, greed is considered a “sin of excess” just like gluttony. According to Buddhist principles, the same greed that builds the sufficiency economy closely corresponds with the Buddhist idea of desire. In this realm, desire is directly related to becoming over-attached to the material world and its pleasures. Because of this, greed prohibits an individual – or corporation, in this case – from being satisfied with current conditions.

This greed leads to a depletion of resources, a dysfunctional economy and a lack of balance. While corporations may see great success, natural resources, individuals and smaller businesses around the globe could suffer long-term effects.

How the sufficiency economy philosophy counteracts 'more is better'

King Bhumibol Adulyadeg of Thailand introduced the philosophy of the sufficiency economy – based on Buddhist principles – to the people of Thailand on Dec. 4, 1997.

King Adulyadeg’s philosophy is rooted in balance – a balanced way of living and of doing business. Centered around three principles – moderation, reasonableness and self-immunity – and coupled with morality and knowledge, each applied at a corporate level, the philosophy presented an alternative to corporate greed, allowing corporations to grow without the common negative effects of business.

Recently, Sirikul Laukaikul, a Bangkok-based brand strategist put on a presentation related to the sufficiency economy in San Diego, California. Laukaikul took the sufficiency economy to the next level by describing “karma marketing,” based on the principle of moderation and responsible behavior.

According to Laukaikul, karma marketing doesn’t mean suffering, limiting growth or forgetting about corporate success. Instead, it’s about companies working to extend themselves to ensure growth and profits while providing for others now and into the future. It’s about understanding when a corporation has enough, and being satisfied in that place.

The potential benefits of karma marketing


The sufficiency economy fits in with the ancient principle of karma. Karma is the idea that for every action there is a reaction, like the ripples created when a stone is thrown into a body of water. When corporations forget about the rest of the world and focus only on growth, there’s a lot to be lost. However, when corporate mindsets change, the idea of “enough” is accepted and those at the top start looking out for those at the bottom, the ripple effect is positive.

Karma marketing leaves room for new growth. It takes care of those who struggle to take care of themselves and protects the planet from the negative consequences of corporate greed. It leaves room for global connectivity and positivity, instead of the negativity to which we are accustomed.

Just like the sufficiency economy itself, if a single brand focused on karma marketing, the ripple effects could be great. Could karma marketing influence the future of our world? Only time will tell; but, it must start somewhere.

Image credit: LibreShot

Anum Yoon is a writer who is passionate about personal finance and sustainability. As a regular contributor to the Presidio Graduate School’s blog, she often looks for ways she can incorporate money management with environmental awareness. You can read her updates on Current on Currency.

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