Irish Business & Society: Governing, Participating and Transforming in the 21st Century 

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(l to r): Paul Donnelly, John Hogan, Vincent Browne and Brendan K. O’Rourke

24th January 2011

Launching Irish Business & Society: Governing, Participating & Transforming in the 21st Century at the Royal Irish Academy, journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne  congratulated the editors and described it as a great book.  He said “It is fantastic that, at a time of institutional, regulatory and cultural failure, we have a book of reflection on what went wrong and how we might get things right”.

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Broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne speaking at the launch

Published by Gill and McMillan, Irish Business & Society examines how relationships between Irish business and society have been governed over the past fifty years, and how participation within business and society has been exercised, tested, challenged and transformed.  It includes contributions from thirty-five authors, including some of the leading academics in sociology, economics, political science, business, and law.   The three editors, Dr. John Hogan, Dr. Paul F. Donnelly and Dr. Brendan K. O’Rourke, are all academics in the School of Marketing in DIT and in the DIT Centre for Business, Society & Sustainability.

Speaking to an invited audience that included politicians, businesspeople, civil society leaders and academics, Browne argued that we have largely lost the spirit of “government by the people, for the people, of the people”.  Pointing to the inadequacies of our political institutions as they currently stand, he contended that society in Ireland is deeply unequal.  Pointing out that that wealth brings greater longevity, better quality of health, as well as greater power, influence and status, he said “The culture that was imbued into our society over the last ten to 15 years … has driven inequality in our society, has made the gap between rich and poor all the greater”.

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Paul O’Sullivan and Nicola Timoney (School of Accounting & Finance)

Offering a number of suggestions as to the sort of reforms that could be introduced to improve our political system and make it more accountable, he warned: “If, arising from this crisis, we don’t change society radically. … Unless there’s some kind of a rupture, or unless we voluntarily decide to change things radically ourselves, we will not alone have suffered the economic and societal consequences of this terrible depression, but we’ll have lost a great opportunity”.

Concluding his very engaging exposition, Browne praised the contribution made by Irish Business & Society: “This book is hugely useful in driving people to make the changes that are necessary and I think the editors, the authors and the publishers of the book deserve great praise”.  (Listen to Browne’s speech here.)

Mr. Paul O’Sullivan, Dean and Director of the College of Business, thanked Vincent Browne and warmly congratulated the editors on drawing in a really expert team of contributors from across a range of institutions, as reflected in the quality, breadth and depth of the topics covered.   He went on to say: “There’s no doubt that this book will serve a real need in the academic programmes that are now beginning - perhaps a little bit late, but better late than never - to explore and question the relationships between business and society”. Full details on Irish Business & Society: Governing, Participating & Transforming in the 21st Century, its contributors and chapters can be found at:

Gill & Macmillan website:

www.gillmacmillan.ie/economics/economics/irish-business--society

Irish Business & Society microsite:

www.irishbusinessandsociety.ie

Irish Business & Society Facebook community:

www.facebook.com/pages/Irish-Business-and-Society/118555571537812

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(l to r): Paul Donnelly, Brendan K. O’Rourke, Paul O’Sullivan and John Hogan

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(l to r): Vincent Browne, Brendan K. O’Rourke and Karlin Lillington (The Irish Times)

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Background

storyLaunch6 Irish Business & Society: Governing, Participating & Transforming in the 21st Century (Gill & Macmillan - ISBN: 9780717149902) provides a contemporary exploration of the wide-ranging debates surrounding the relationships between business and society in 21st century Ireland.  It is the first book of its kind on the Irish market and is being received very positively, both nationally and internationally.

Irish Business & Society examines how, over the past half century, the relationships between Irish business and society were governed, and how participation within business and society was exercised, tested, challenged and transformed.  Although the business and societal structures that enabled Ireland achieve spectacular economic success over the past two decades are still in place, a series of questions now faces the country.  Are these structures still fit for the purposes they were initially designed to address?  Can they be adapted to the new reality of the changed world?  Or, do they need to be revised, or even discarded in favour of something radically different?  As such, the end of the first decade of the 21st century constitutes an ideal time to take stock of the state of business and society in Ireland.

The book’s 31 chapters come from 35 contributors, amongst whom are some of the leading and upcoming academics in a range of disciplines including sociology, economics, political science, business, and law.  These academics, who provide both national and international perspectives on Irish business and society, variously hail from DIT, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway, Dublin City University, The Kings Inns, University of Stirling (UK), Columbia University (US), Eastern University (US), University of Wisconsin (US), National University of Singapore, James Cook University (Australia), and The Irish Times.  From DIT, some ten colleagues contributed their work, including the editors.

While the book is primarily targeted at undergraduate and postgraduate students and scholars in the areas of business, political science, sociology and economics, it will also appeal to anyone with an interest in Irish business and society.

In reviewing Irish Business & Society, Jon Van Til (Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA) commented that it “presents the best of Irish social science, neatly packaged around themes of governance, participation, and transformation.  Many of these original chapters are brilliantly crafted, and while they show an Ireland slipping off a time of rapid growth, themes of hope abound in enterprise, social and economic partnership, civil society, social inclusion, and Europeanization. Read it through for a clear view of what makes today’s Ireland click, and sometimes sputter.”

Peter Cassells (Chairman, National Centre for Partnership and Performance; Chairman, DHR Communications; former General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions) noted that Irish Business & Society is a “very stimulating book of essays [that] brought me right back to this quote from Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia: ‘It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing. It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.’ There is a real sense from these essays that, once again, Ireland is at a turning point, in business, society and public governance.”

And, on reading Irish Business & Society, Jim Barry (Chief Executive, NTR plc; member of Council of Patrons, Special Olympics Ireland; board member, The Ireland Funds) commented that it “succeeds in drawing an excellent, multi-dimensional perspective on Ireland from some of our most perceptive academic commentators as we seek to address the role of business in our society in the 21st Century. It comprehensively addresses the various themes relevant to Irish business and society in one coherent volume and should be required reading for all citizens seeking to improve their understanding of modern Ireland. Its economic and social analysis of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ is particularly insightful, reminding me of George Santayana’s quote: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. This book successfully holds that mirror up to our societal structures and institutions in a way that should enable us to learn and develop as a society.”

This is the second edited book for Drs. Hogan and Donnelly, who, along with Dr. Paddy Dolan (also School of Marketing), published Approaches to Qualitative Research: Theory and Its Practical Application (Oak Tree Press - ISBN: 978-1-904887-31-7) in 2009.

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