Quaker Studies

Scott Bader: Christian Enterprise in Transition*

Quaker Studies (2011), 15, (2), 246–253.

Abstract

A Quaker founded charity set up in 1951, the Scott Bader Commonwealth owns a £160m international business as a social investment. This paper draws on a recent project to revise the Constitution of this 60 year old common trusteeship enterprise to show how the internationalisation of the business has interacted with an increasingly individualistic and secular UK culture resulting in a progressive weakening of the connection between the current enterprise and the explicitly Christian utopian and covenantal principles on which it was founded in 1951. It uses textual comparison between the original 1951 and current twenty-first-century Constitutional documents to illustrate how the distinctive religious and communitarian norms that were established in 1951 have weakened by 2010. The paper accounts for this weakening as one outcome of the clash between Ernest Bader’s personal common trusteeship ideal and the more limited aspirations of three generations of Commonwealth Members. This tension has been heightened by the growing individualism that has characterised western society since the 1960s. It questions whether a faith-based set of principles distilled from a deliberate exploration of the faith cultures in which the Scott Bader business now operates might better reflect the utopian vision of the original 1951 Constitution than the current secular values statement.

Scott Bader: Christian Enterprise in Transition*

Abstract

A Quaker founded charity set up in 1951, the Scott Bader Commonwealth owns a £160m international business as a social investment. This paper draws on a recent project to revise the Constitution of this 60 year old common trusteeship enterprise to show how the internationalisation of the business has interacted with an increasingly individualistic and secular UK culture resulting in a progressive weakening of the connection between the current enterprise and the explicitly Christian utopian and covenantal principles on which it was founded in 1951. It uses textual comparison between the original 1951 and current twenty-first-century Constitutional documents to illustrate how the distinctive religious and communitarian norms that were established in 1951 have weakened by 2010. The paper accounts for this weakening as one outcome of the clash between Ernest Bader’s personal common trusteeship ideal and the more limited aspirations of three generations of Commonwealth Members. This tension has been heightened by the growing individualism that has characterised western society since the 1960s. It questions whether a faith-based set of principles distilled from a deliberate exploration of the faith cultures in which the Scott Bader business now operates might better reflect the utopian vision of the original 1951 Constitution than the current secular values statement.


Details

Author details

Pinder, Hilary