Monthly archive - March 2016

What is a “Positive Institution”? 


Can global capital markets become catalysts for social change? According to investment expert Audrey Choi, individuals own almost half of all globa

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What is a positive institution? In previous articles Lindsey Godwin and I have defined positive institutions, theoretically, by building upon the conceptual lens of the positive psychology of human strengths (see https://www.viacharacter.org/www/). Can we design and work with institutions not as clients but as “the change agents” to magnify our highest human strengths  outward into the world as a force for world benefit? How about designing institutions for magnifying the human character strength of wisdom into the world? Or the human strengths of courage, social intelligence, love, sense of humanity, or curiosity and love of learning? Instead of running away from big institutions shouldn’t we all be running toward them–if our goal is to build a better world in our society of organizations? Positive institutions are, as we define them, “organizations and structured practices in culture or society that serve to elevate and develop our highest human strengths, combine and magnify those strengths, and refract our highest strengths outward in world benefiting ways leading, ultimately, to a world of full-spectrum flourishing. (Cooperrider and Godwin, 2014)”  Now, for the logical stretch–how about the $290 trillion dollars in our global capital markets. Just as tankers leave big wakes in the ocean, might global capital markets, as an institution, become one of the most positive forces for good on the planet? And how might we make it so? 
Can global capital markets become the institutional catalysts for positive social elevation of human strengths? According to Morgan Stanley investment expert Audrey Choi, individuals own almost half of all global capital, giving them (us!) the power to make a difference by investing in companies that champion social values and sustainability. 
“We have more opportunity today than ever before to make choices,” she says. “So change your perspective. Invest in the change you want to see in the world.”  And watch this articulate video.   

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