26th Annual Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education Meeting

Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Mary Dana Laird, Ph.D.


Cura personalis, which is “care for the person” in Latin, is at the heart of a Jesuit education. Authors have applied the concept to a variety of educational contexts like undergraduate ethical decision-making (Latta & Dugan, 2019), gender violence on a university campus (Adelman et al., 2012), and integrating sustainability into management classes (Jackson, 2012). However, no previous work has examined the relationship between cura personalis and human resource management (HRM), which is “the policies, practices, and systems that influence employees’ behavior, attitudes, and performance” (Noe et al., 2016, p. 3). This revelation came from a hallway conversation with our college’s resident Jesuit. When I told him I was on my way to teach HRM, he put a “Jesuit spin” on the discipline. He said that St. Ignatius, who embodied cura personalis, was on a mission to spread Christianity and the Catholic Church throughout the world. St. Ignatius knew he needed to get, motivate, and keep the best people to help him accomplish this goal, so he treated them well – he cared for the person. Since this fortuitous conversation, I have assigned my introductory HRM class an article titled “Cura Personalis: Some Ignatian Inspirations” by Father Geger (2014). Not only does it provide a history and current application of cura personalis, but it illustrates how St. Ignatius understood the importance of human resources long before HRM existed. For example, Geger (2014) writes about St. Ignatius’ revolutionary goal of moving the sequestered church into the world. "The new emphasis presented Ignatius with unprecedented challenges. One was a danger of exhaustion and burnout in his men. Another was the need to put the right men in the right jobs. If a Jesuit failed in his mission, especially one that was high profile, not only would the world suffer, but also the man himself, in that he might experience shame, lost confidence, or even doubts about his vocation. And of course, if superiors repeatedly assigned unqualified men, the reputation of the Society would suffer (p. 9)." This quote clearly speaks to the importance of selection, but it also addresses modern concepts like burnout, person-job fit, and organizational reputation. Previous students have made connections between St. Ignatius’ actions and job design, selection, training, performance management, compensation, and benefits, which are all important functions of modern HRM. At the end of the semester, I ask my students to read the Geger (2014) article and write a reflection on how “St. Ignatius was the First VP of HR.” I then lead a round-table discussion where everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts. Not only does this activity help them review the course material, but it shows them how the Jesuit value of cura personalis has benefited organizations for centuries. Ultimately, I hope a strong understanding of HRM, their Jesuit values, and how the two are related will inspire them to become business leaders who care for people. I welcome the opportunity to share this activity with CJBE. REFERENCES Adelman, M., Haldan, H, & Weis, J.R. 2012. Mobilizing culture as an asset: A transdisciplinary effort to rethink gender violence. Violence Against Women, 18(6): 691-700. Geger, B.T. 2014. Cura personalis: Some Ignation Inspirations. Jesuit Higher Education, 3(2): 6-20. Jackson, K. 2012. Cura personalis and business education for sustainability. Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 31(2): 265-288. Latta, G.F. & Dugan, M. 2019. Comparing ethical decision-making among undergraduates: The impact of institutional values. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 19(2): 56-77. Noe, R.A., Hollenbeck, J.R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P.M. 2016. Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, Sixth Edition. McGraw-Hill Education.