Testimony: IUPG, a place of research and chivalry

The idea of research was not really part of my thinking…. I did not see how research could be relevant to me in my employment as a training manager, let alone become a path of missionary commitment. That was so until the first IUPG meeting in 2008. On the first day of this meeting, listening to several presentations from differing disciplines, I wondered where we were headed and I was uncertain as to the common thread of the gathering.  Then, little by little, the conviction formed within me that the charism of the Emmanuel Community could actually become incarnate via the media of biology, history, philosophy and even mathematics! It was surprising to see all these intellectual pursuits joined with the Eucharist and praise. During the time of charismatic praise we received the image of the ‘IUP knight’ who entered and exited the various academic and intellectual ‘fortresses’ without difficulty. I sensed a call to unify my vocation in higher education and research.

 In hindsight, I realise that, during the time of our family’s FIDESCO cooperation, the Lord had called me in a similar way to continue as a missionary in higher education. On my return from mission, I was employed by the IRCOM (catholic university in Angers, France) in order to create a humanitarian arm – the Institute Pedro de Béthencourt, which for me was to become the precursor of my  vocation as a ‘IUPG knight’.

 Feeling called to cross a new frontline, I made a decision to attempt the adventure of research. I prepared an initial thesis on ethics education within French business schools which I presented at an IUPG meeting. After been encouraged in this work, I asked my research brethren an important question –  ‘Do you think I should continue down this path?’ Their advice was invaluable as I was then able to take the decision to reorient my thesis. I took a year to finalise it and to find a practical and financially-acceptable way to engage in doctoral work with the benefit of appropriate conditions. My nascent thesis attracted the interest of various players who then decided to support it.

 My thesis developed within the structure of the GRACE (Christian Anthropology and Business Research Group) and under the direction of Pierre-Yves Gomez. This allowed me to take advantage of a group working on the concept of ‘gift’ as well as a bursary from the CapitalDon Foundation. I submitted my thesis to the partners of Turning Point, an international firm engaged in leadership coaching. They wanted to participate in this adventure by ensuring I had funding, a field of observation and permitted me to benefit from their expertise. Whilst still an IRCOM employee, the institute also agreed to participate in funding my project. Last of all, IUPG helped me to finance the purchase of books and to participate in symposia.

 I have been interested for quite some time in the relationship between management, leadership and ethics. In my previous job, I was struck by the recourse made by some business ethics authors to the function of the leader, as if this role granted its holder a quasi-magical ability to direct an organisation towards right ethical choices. The notions of leader and leadership are coated with an extremely positive aura in many articles in the field, especially those emanating from the USA. It seems that American pioneer history is responsible for much of this rather optimistic perception of the leader.

 The openness to the ‘gift’ and the gratuity of GRACE stimulated my questions on the actual role of the business leader. Can he give, give of himself and engender the gift? My topic also became refined thanks to a request made of large businesses, including TURNING POINT, to develop the commitment of their leaders, hoping at the same time to develop the same in their collaborators. If the employment contract and incentives do not guarantee leadership commitment then a new question must arise: ‘What is the nature of this ‘further’ commitment which is called for? How can a leader give himself, give of himself and devote himself to his work? To do this, I am going to focus on acts of self-donation so as to understand to what extent they demonstrate commitment at work and engender the same in their colleagues.

Benjamin Pavageau


Mentions légales

IUPG, association loi de 1901
91, boulevard Auguste Blanqui
75013 Paris

Représentant légal : Philippe Quentin
Responsable de rédaction : Isabelle Voix
Hébergeur : OVH