Business as a Calling
By Michael and jana Novak

Business as a Calling

Work and the Examined Life


Why do we work so hard at our jobs, day after day? Why is a job well done important to us? We know there is more to a career than money and prestige, but what exactly do we mean by "fulfillment"? These are old but important questions. They belong with some newly discovered ones: Why are people in business more religious than the population as a whole? What do people of business know, and what do they do, that anchors their faith? In this ground-breaking and inspiring book, Michael Novak ties together these crucial questions by explaining the meaning of work as a vocation. Work should be more than just a job -- it should be a calling. 

This book explains an important part of our lives in a new way, and readers will instantly recognize themselves in its pages. A larger proportion than ever before of the world's Christians, Jews, and other peoples of faith are spending their working lives in business. Business is a profession worthy of a person's highest ideals and aspirations, fraught with moral possibilities both of great good and of great evil. Novak takes on agonizing problems, such as downsizing, the tradeoffs that must sometimes be faced between profits and human rights, and the pitfalls of philanthropy. 

He also examines the daily questions of how an honest day's work contributes to the good of many people, both close at hand and far away. Our work connects us with one another. It also makes possible the universal advance out of poverty, and it is an essential prerequisite of democracy and the institutions of civil society. 

This book is a spiritual feast, for everyone who wants to examine how to make a life through making a living.

Published: Reprint edition April 6, 2013


“This is one of the most challenging new books that I have read on business ethics since I started teaching the course. It is required not only for all students and teachers of business management, but also for those who actually manage business, and everyone else who thinks about the role of business in the modern world.”

Robert W. Fogel
The Graduate School of Business
The University of Chicago

“Michael Novak is our finest—and wisest—writer on the intricate interplay between religion and economics in American life. His new book, Business as a Calling, breaks new ground by understanding business as a vocation with its own spiritual requirements…. Michael Novak, as always, teaches us to think about old subjects in new and creative ways.”

William E. Simon
Former Secretary of the Treasury

“Michael Novak has penned a masterpiece. Business as a Calling is a must-read for everyone interested in capitalism, American style. From student to CEO; employee to major stockholder; government bureaucrat to politician—all will find something to enjoy and profit from.”

Richard L. Lawson
President, National Mining Association

“Once it was commonplace for theologians to address themselves to the various walks of life—Thomas Aquinas wrote a guide for governing princes. Michael Novak revives this great tradition with Business as a Calling. Anyone who thinks democratic capitalism is a blueprint for greed has not read Michael Novak. Anyone who thinks that the social and economic teachings of the Catholic Church are inimical to entrepreneurial capitalism has not read Michael Novak. Now, in Business as a Calling. Michael Novak writes on work and the examined life. No other writer could bring together Novak’s hardheaded understanding of the business world and the ethical and religious context in which alone human work can flourish. The latest in an important series of books by Michael Novak, Business as a Calling stirs, instructs, and edifies.”

Ralph McInerny
Michael Grace Professor of Medieval Philosophy
University of Notre Dame

“Rich, wise, and illuminating. Novak’s essay simultaneously rehumanizes capitalism and remoralizes business—an immense and timely contribution to our much-needed Western renaissance.”

Os Guiness

“This latest work goes where none of his previous writings have traveled—to the heart and soul of the business world… destined to become a classic… a must-read for students and teachers of business, managers, and others concerned about the moral role of business in the modern world.”

Dr. Edward W. Younkins
Wheeling Jesuit University