The objective of this research project is to turn Daoism into a full-fledged virtue ethics, which can then be applied in business. This will be achieved by analysing the major works linked to Daoism in terms of virtues described therein. These virtues will then be compiled into larger ‘themes’.


The purpose of this project is an applied virtue ethics that can both inspire Western business practices, as well as business practices in China. This virtue ethics derived from Daoism, however, is based on ‘alternative’ virtues less pronounced in Western ethics. They perfectly fit into an era of post-growth coming with increasing levels of individuality, where sustainable practices and a long-term focus accordingly should be the rational concern of every individual.

Only if every one of us realises that we must start with ourselves by seriously taking care of our own mental and bodily health – realising the inherent connection between a healthy mind and a healthy body – are we strong enough to motivate and support others, and to eventually contribute to a better society at large.

This self-cultivation can be practiced along the virtues articulated in Daoism, which means realising and following the dao and taking the virtuous practice of the Sage that is modelled after nature as an example.

Daoism and the Daoist idea of self-cultivation start with the individual and the local. It starts with the small and eventually develops into something larger. Small things in Daoism are taken seriously for exactly this reason, as they can develop into something larger in both a positive and negative sense depending on how we handle it.


If we now apply this approach in business it could lead to an increased awareness of the interconnectedness of things and generally a better relational and integrated thinking. Accordingly, it can positively impact corporate culture in terms of individual but also group attitudes and behaviour.

Once we realise our actions have a larger impact – and consequentially those of others on us – for better or for worse, we should find improving ourselves a natural necessity to sustain our own life but also the ‘life’ of the community we are living and working in.