In a world of infamous corporations such as Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers and AIG, Economics Professor Felix Livingston finally had enough. The former chair of Flagler’s Business Administration department was sick of seeing “crony capitalists” destroy a system he believed in.
So he set out to do something about it. Livingston stepped down from his position as chair to pour his energy into a new Flagler program: a minor called Honorable Entrepreneurship.
The minor’s mission is to teach students how to recognize opportunity, and to provide them with knowledge required for launching and nurturing a start-up business.
“I view the Honorable Entrepreneurship minor as an important link between liberal arts at the college and business education,” he said. “The idea is that a lot of young people would really like to do something or start a company, but have no earthly idea how to do it. This would basically teach them the basics of how to write a business plan, how to manage a business, but with this philosophical idea that when you do business, do it honorably.”
Honorably because Livingston says he sees there are too many shady dealings and unethical situations in the world of business.
“I think there’s a systemic problem in corporations in terms of decisions that are made,” he said. “Corporations have a greater incentive to be crony capitalists because the corporate executives can hide behind the veil of corporate governance. They can say, ‘Well, the corporation made the decision. I had no part in it.’ It’s easy to avoid personal responsibility. A private entrepreneur whose name is his word, he has to be accountable for his own decisions. The buck stops with him.”
So how does one become an “honorable entrepreneur?” “Be successful the old-fashioned way. Find a better way of doing things,” he said. “There are numerous ways to, in effect, create mutual benefits. The essence of honorable entrepreneurship is mutually beneficial transactions — mutual benefits among entrepreneurs, among entrepreneurs and their workers, among entrepreneurs and consumers. It’s a kind of social network that is highly beneficial if it’s done correctly.”
Livingston earned his Ph.D. and his M.A. in Economics from Kansas State University. He earned his B.A. in Economics from Pittsburgh State University.
Prior to joining Flagler College in 1999, he served in many roles in higher education leadership and administration. He has written more than forty academic articles, chapters and essays, and his work has been widely published and reprinted around the world. He is especially interested in economic efficiency and the intersection of economics, politics and culture.