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Crisis and Sustainability: Responses from Different Positions

14th Annual Conference of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Sofia, 7-8 October 2011

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Edited By George Chobanov and Jürgen Plöhn

The volume contains an editorial and nine contributions to the proceedings of the 14 th international conference of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Sofia University. The first part reflects on the persistent monetary, fiscal and economic crisis in the EU and other OECD countries. The second part deals with specific answers to economic challenges by municipalities and enterprises, treating clusters, NPM and M&A. In a broad sense, the third part is dedicated to sustainable development, including a theoretical, a predominantly political and a practice oriented contribution. The articles are written by authors from five nations: Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the USA. In the background of each position, there is a certain national tradition; the authors use theoretical as well as empirical approaches. The volume encompasses ten figures and eleven tables.

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JOACHIM SCHWALBACH: SUSTAINABILITY: WHY THE HONOURABLE MERCHANT WINS IN THE END

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SUSTAINABILITY: WHY THE HONOURABLE MERCHANT WINS IN THE END JOACHIM SCHWALBACH (HUMBOLDT-UNIVERSITY, BERLIN, GERMANY) Disregarding “The General Principle of the Honourable Merchant” (GPHM) is one of the major reasons for the recent financial crisis. In this context, for example, one may well call the investment adviser and former non- executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, Bernhard L. Madoff, a prototype of a dishonourable merchant (“It’s all a big lie”). However, one must concede that his misconduct has only become possible through lax control by the auditors and the supervisory authorities as well as through the greed of the small and big investors for higher returns irre- spective of the risks. Although the reasons for the financial crisis are manifold, the misconduct of the actors has primarily something to do with their individual nature rather than the institutions. In this respect, returning to the GPHM seems to be imperative. The GPHM defines criteria of character and culture. Their compliance acts as harmoniser for the acting of entrepreneurs and society. You can trace this concept back to medieval Italy. As early as 1340, Italian mer- chants’ books talk about the “true and honest merchant”. In Germany, the rise of the Hanse is inseparably linked with the image of the Honour- able Merchant. The loose league of towns that was the Hanse could only achieve the magnitude that determined history through mutual tolerance and virtuous behaviour of its members. In this sense, the GPHM de- scribes a life philosophy whose realisation lets...

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