On the Purpose of the Firm
e Case of Hans Nielsen Hauge
J A. H T L
Why do people start ﬁrms, or what is the purpose of ﬁrms and businesses? Is it simply to earn money
(maximise proﬁt) or is there another purpose, like contributing to the common good? Or is there
a dual purpose? Even if this is a controversial question, it is more relevant than ever. Firms and
the quest for proﬁt are often seen as a major cause to our global challenges related to inequality
and climate change. However, it is also true that ﬁrms must be an integral part of creating a
Investors, ﬁrms and managers often experience a tension between maximising proﬁt and con-
tributing to the common good. In this article, we explore the purpose of the ﬁrm by (1) surveying
a few perspectives from the recent theoretical management literature, (2) approach the purpose of
the ﬁrm from Christian perspectives, and (3) (our main contribution) exploring relevant themes
related to the social purpose of the companies founded by Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771–1824), as
well as other Haugean entrepreneurs.
Keywords: Business objectives, higher purpose, corporate social responsibility, Hauge, stewardship, social value.
JEL Classiﬁcations: L21, M14, N33, Z12
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ere is a growing concern that businesses, markets and capitalism do not serve society in
the best way possible. “Modern capitalism has the potential to lift us all to unprecedented
prosperity, but it is morally bankrupt and on track for tragedy” (Collier 2019, p. 25). Other
leading economists make claims like “markets have gone oﬀ the rails” (Henderson 2020,
p. 20) and “capitalism is in crisis” (Edmans 2020, p. 2). ere are two signiﬁcant reasons
for this. Firstly, the ﬁnancial crisis in 2007–2008 revealed that there is still work to do to
combat greed and unethical behaviour in the business world. Secondly, humanity has not
solved the two most considerable global problems, i.e., inequality and climate change. e
two recent decades have made the world aware of the unjust distribution from globalisation,
and we are starting to see the consequences of climate change. Solving these problems is at
the heart of the globally accepted and recognised UN Sustainability Goals.
Businesses are often seen as a part of today’s problems failing to internalise externalities
and its focus on proﬁt-maximisation (Collier 2019; Edmans 2020; Henderson 2020; Porter
and Kramer 2006; 2011). However, companies must also play an essential role in solving
global challenges. In fact, it is almost impossible to imagine sustainable solutions to the
world’s critical problems without the business community’s contribution.
As evidence of the latter is the increased attention, both within businesses themselves
and within the academic world, on how business activities can contribute to solving social
problems. Obviously, ﬁrms must generate a proﬁt to stay in business, but this does not
necessarily prevent ﬁrms from contributing to society and the common good.
However, capitalism has always been viewed critically by diﬀerent groups in society. us,
this is nothing new. e American historian Joyce Appleby categorises the critics against
capitalism into three groups. e ﬁrst group are “those who are oﬀended by the vulgarity
and ugliness” of proﬁt maximisation. e second group wants to “ﬁght capitalism for the
sins of globalisation” and especially multinational corporations. e third group “wants
to work within the framework of capitalism to make the system more open, fairer, and as
responsive to people as dollars” (Appleby 2011, p. 423). is latter group is maybe the most
realistic one because they understand capitalism’s power and how the market economy con-
tributes to our welfare. At the same time, these critics also know that the market economy
and the capitalistic system are not perfect. ere is room for improving our current way of
organising the economy. From Christian views, there has also been this dualistic perspective
on the capitalistic system.
Another interesting view is that capitalism must change as the world changes. For exam-
ple, Becker (2019) argues that in the 21st century, we face new challenges that also create
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challenges for how we view the economy and businesses. According to Becker, there are three
new challenges: (1) the meaning of the economy for intercultural and global relations; (2)
the meaning of the economy for future generations, and (3) the meaning of the economy for
nature (Becker 2019, p. 71). ese challenges force us to think about the way we organise
our economic activities and the purpose of businesses or ﬁrms.
e latter, that is, the purpose of the ﬁrm, is the focus of this chapter. Given the new
challenges, how can and must ﬁrms think about the purpose of the ﬁrm? Focusing solely
on maximising proﬁt is decreasingly accepted as the sole objective of the ﬁrm. As stated by
Harvard professor Rebecca Henderson, “We must build a proﬁtable, equitable, and sustain-
able capitalism by changing how we think about the purpose of ﬁrms, their role in society,
and their relationship to government and the state” (Henderson 2020, p. 4).
Interestingly, this is not just a future scenario of how ﬁrms ought to operate. We can
actually ﬁnd examples of companies that had a higher purpose in the past. Hans Nielsen
Hauge (1771–1824) was a Norwegian serial entrepreneur and preacher, founding several
businesses to address and meet social needs such as poverty, illiteracy, and hunger.
e chapter unfolds as described below. We start with a short section on methodology
before presenting theoretical perspectives from the management literature on the purpose
of the ﬁrm. en, we investigate the purpose of the ﬁrm from Christian perspectives. e
main section of this chapter discusses Hans Nielsen Hauge’s business philosophy and how
this can be an inspiration to current and future business leaders. e ﬁnal section concludes
“e Hauge house” at Ekers Paper Mill
(Eker Papirfabrikk), one of the most success-
ful Haugean companies during the ﬁrst
decades of the 19th century. Photo: Eiker arkiv
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In this chapter, we draw on diﬀerent theoretical perspectives, based on modern manage-
ment and business theories, but also Christian perspectives on work and business, to better
understand the purpose of the ﬁrm. Furthermore, we explore important social responsibility
and business philosophy related themes based on the entrepreneurial endeavours of Hans
Nielsen Hauge and his followers, the Haugeans, to increase our knowledge in the same area.
e diﬀerent business theories used were selected to present a broader perspective than
merely the proﬁt maximisation paradigm, and the Christian views, including both Catho-
lic and Protestant perspectives, are included because they convey a way of understanding
business and work from a faith-based or values-based approach. By looking at the approach
and practice of several Haugean companies, we have identiﬁed three common themes that
illustrate their commitment to a higher purpose for their business endeavours, that is, alle-
viating poverty, improving literacy, and distributing food and other necessities in times of
famine and crisis.
e Purpose of the Firm: eoretical Perspectives
Before discussing the purpose of the ﬁrm, we want to emphasise that a business operates
on a license from society. In the management literature, this is studied under the notion of
legitimacy. “Organisations are legitimate to the extent that their activities are congruent with
the goals and values of the social system within which they function” (Carroll 2018, p. 102).
Why is this important? ere are at least two reasons: Firstly, we can consider a ﬁrm as a public
institution in which its activities are not only determined by economic factors but also by
social and political forces (Warren 2003). Secondly, this introduces a dynamic element, i.e.,
business legitimacy changes over time as society changes. “Today, businesses’ ethical, social,
and societal responsibility moves towards broader value orientations [and] where businesses
assume tasks that were previously reserved for the state” (Rendtorﬀ 2019, p. 45). In other
words, a ﬁrm does not exist as a separated and isolated entity but is part of society. As such, it
has a responsibility to contribute to the common good (see the next section for a deﬁnition).
It could be argued, of course, that all ﬁrms contribute to the common good simply by
their operations generating proﬁt and employment. But the question still remains; How
should we think about the purpose of the ﬁrm? Let us explore four diﬀerent perspectives.
e ﬁrst perspective is represented by Milton Friedman’s statement in his book Capital-
ism and Freedom from 1962 and to a broader audience in the New York Times Magazine
in 1970. He writes:
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“ere is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities
designed to increase its proﬁts as long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in
open and free competition without deception or fraud”
What Friedman is claiming is that the objective of the ﬁrm should be to maximise share-
holder value. By maximising proﬁt, the ﬁrm still contributes to society through its economic
activities, employment, and paying taxes. Furthermore, suppose a ﬁrm should address social
responsibility beyond maximising proﬁt. It is not clear which social responsibility a ﬁrm
should follow given the diﬀerent views from all the various shareholders. Hence, it is more
eﬃcient if the ﬁrm maximises its proﬁt, and then the shareholders can use and distribute
his or her share of the proﬁt in a way that is aligned with his or her preferences.
e Friedman doctrine was the dominant view in academia and the business world from
the mid-1980s to the beginning of 2000. But, since the ﬁnancial crisis in 2008, this view has
become more controversial and debated (Zingales et. al. 2020). Nevertheless, it continues
to be a meaningful and inﬂuential perspective in the discussion on the purpose of the ﬁrm.
e other dominant perspective, which also is opposing the Friedman doctrine, is the
stakeholder approach (Freeman, 1984/2010). A stakeholder is a group of people who can
impact the operation of the ﬁrm or is impacted by the ﬁrm. e approach can be understood
as descriptive, instrumental, and normative (Donaldson and Preston 1995). e norma-
tive perspective reminds us that there are several other important stakeholders besides the
ﬁnancial ones. e ﬁrm must address the needs and expectations of all the diﬀerent stake-
holders and provide value. is idea seems trivial but compared to the Friedman doctrine,
it broadens the perspective on who not only participates but also who is impacted by the
operation of a business.
A third perspective has its roots in the works by Porter and Kramer (2006; 2011) and
the concept of Creating Shared Values (CSV). e idea behind CSV is that it is possible to
“enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic
and social conditions in the communities in which it operates” (Porter & Kramer 2011,
p. 66). Even though the idea is appealing, it is not entirely clear how the idea should be
implemented, and how one should empirically test and measure the theory. e concept
is also slightly overlapping with the concept of corporate social responsibility (Dembek et.
A fourth perspective has the catchy name Pieconomics (pronounced ‘pike-onomics’).
is is deﬁned as “an approach to business that seeks to create proﬁts only through creating
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value for society” (Edmans 2020, p. 27). e underlying idea is that a ﬁrm should focus
on creating genuine value, i.e., increasing the pie to be shared, and not redistribute value
from stakeholders. By expanding the pie, it is possible to avoid a zero-sum-game mentality,
that is, if a stakeholder gets a larger share of the value created, some other stakeholder must
lose. According to Edmans (2020), who invented the concept of pieconomics, this should
lead to a “shift in thinking about what leaders’ and enterprises’ responsibilities are, and how
both should be held accountable by citizens”.
As discussed in this brief overview, there is clearly a move from a narrow view on the
ﬁrm’s purpose to a much broader view where the purpose of the ﬁrm is much more aligned
with the values of society. ere are several reasons for this change. Firstly, the ﬁnancial crisis
in 2008 demonstrated the negative impact on society of the increasing power of ﬁnance
and ﬁnancial markets. Secondly, the world has become aware of the negative distributional
eﬀects of globalisation. irdly, the business community is an essential contributor to solving
global climate problems.
is latter has contributed to a massive interest from businesses on the topic of sustaina-
bility. Focus on sustainability implies that ﬁrms need to widen their perspective even more
and take into account the wellbeing of both people, the environment, and the planet, as well
as both current and future generations. e sustainability perspective has also contributed
to a surge in the interest in social entrepreneurship and sustainable innovation (Adams et.
Summing up, our view is that the purpose of the ﬁrm must be something more than
just generating proﬁt. However, without proﬁt, a ﬁrm will not survive. at said, we must
not forget that the ﬁrm has a bigger purpose, which is to contribute to the common good
and be a positive force in the world. is latter, in other words, seems to become the new
way we evaluate ﬁrms. Society demands that ﬁrms take responsibility for contributing to a
sustainable future. Let us now turn to Christian views on the purpose of the ﬁrm.
e Purpose of the Firm: Christian Perspectives
From Christian perspectives, we want to address two views, or principles, that can shed
more light on (the purpose of) the ﬁrm. e ﬁrst is the notion of “community” as expressed
in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Professor of religion Amanda Porterﬁeld writes,
”Paul’s theory of social organisation operated as a model for organising people of diﬀerent
backgrounds under one tent – into a social unit Paul rapturously identiﬁed as the mystical
body of Christ” (Porterﬁeld 2018, p. 3). is also has ethical implications because there is
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both an “individual and collective duty to build up the community” (Barrera 2013, p. 215).
e second principle is the importance and meaning of work. rough work, people “express
their self-interested aspirations” and “contribute to the welfare of others and fulﬁl, in part,
their role as stewards of God’s creation” (Waters 2016, p. 129). To elaborate on these two
views, we ﬁrst take a look at the Protestant work ethic, and then brieﬂy discuss the purpose
of the ﬁrm by applying principles from the Catholic Social Teaching.
e Protestant Work Ethic and Perspectives on Business
Max Weber (1930) argued in his classic work e Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capi-
talism that there was a relationship between Protestantism and capitalism. More precisely,
the Protestant Work Ethic (PWE) is deﬁned as the relationship between Protestantism,
especially Calvinism, and the spirit of capitalism. By the latter, Weber meant that proﬁt
could be an end in itself, and that pursuit of proﬁt could be virtuous. Studying Calvinism,
he was particularly interested in the doctrine of predestination and how the idea of calling
or vocation, even in a so-called worldly occupation, aﬀected the individual’s approach to
business endeavours. e latter is congruent with Martin Luther’s teaching about the priest-
hood of all believers. e divine calling was no longer restricted just for priests or those who
gave themselves to a life of service in the monasteries, but also for occupations that were
considered more “worldly” (Weber 1930).
As pointed out by van Hoorn and Maseland (2013), Weber’s initial work has inspired
a considerable amount of research, studying the relationship between religious values and
economic activity and results. Moreover, they describe how this literature diverges (van
Hoorn and Maseland 2013), as some studies support and further develop Weber’s conclu-
sions, whereas others do not ﬁnd support for it. Even others have found ways to rework his
arguments or advocate for other causal relationships. As pointed out by Grytten (2020),
the claims of Weber have caused debate and been “a source of disagreement”. Furthermore,
as both Grytten (2020) and Dalgaard and Supphellen (2011) point out, R. H. Tawney
(1880–1962) has added other aspects to Weber’s ideas (Tawney 1926), like questioning the
doctrine of predestination, and thus the Calvinistic uncertainty of salvation, as the main
inﬂuence of the idea of hard work to prove one’s holiness, and adding the fact that Puritans
were often persecuted minorities, which in many cases made entrepreneurship the only
option for ﬁnding viable job opportunities. One important aspect of PWE is the individual
responsibility of the Protestant believer and thus also the social responsibility one has for
others and for society. is is closely connected with the biblical idea of stewardship and
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calling, where the believer is given a mandate to care for creation, including other people
Our purpose here is not to test the validity of the Weber, or even the Weber-Tawney,
thesis. However, the main ideas of PWE as described above, will help us gain a better and
deeper understanding of a Christian perspective on work and doing business. us, for the
purpose of this chapter, we will emphasise the aspect of calling and vocation in PWE, based
on Luther’s concept of its all-encompassing reach. Research has shown that calling can have
a positive impact on job performance and will inﬂuence one’s understanding of work and
business endeavours (Supphellen 2013).
An important aspect regarding calling and vocation, and the motivation of such, is the
call to love, both one’s neighbour and God. Love in this context is not merely an emotion,
but the concept of “giving oneself for others” (1. John 3:16). From a Christian perspective,
and in many ways closely connected to aspects of PWE like taking responsibility for others
and society and being a steward of God’s creation, all actions should ideally be founded on
love. is is described quite explicitly in the so-called Great Commandment in e Gospel
of Matthew 22:36–40 (NIV):
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. is is the ﬁrst and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself”. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these
is central message of the New Testament of dual love of God and of one’s neighbour serves
as a foundation for the Christian life and thus also for one’s work and business endeavours.
is means, among other things, improving society and treating employees, customers, and
other stakeholders fairly, respectfully, and decently.
Catholic Social Teaching
e Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is a collection of seventeen papal encyclicals from 1891
to the present and has been a “bellwether of Christian response to modernisation” (McCann
1997, p. 57). e aim of the CST is to discuss “the relationship between Christian morality
(virtues, rules, rights, and ideals) and the concrete social patterns, practices, and institutions
within which persons live” (Brady 2017, p. 17).
It is impossible to present the richness of the CST in this short section. However, we
brieﬂy comment on three perspectives from the CST which are relevant for this chapter.
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e ﬁrst perspective is the notion of the common good. In the Catechism of the Catholic
Church, the common good is deﬁned as “the sum total of social conditions which allow
people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulﬁlment more fully and easily”
(Catholic Church 2000, para. 1906). e common good must facilitate humans to ﬂourish.
It is developed when humans “act purposefully together towards a shared goal” (Pontiﬁcal
Council for Justice and Peace 2012, para. 34). Hence, the common good is not an end in
itself; “God is the ultimate end” (Pontiﬁcal Council of Justice and Peace 2005, para. 170).
Secondly, even though modern economists tend to view the economy and economic
activities as a separate part of society with its own laws (Fukuyama 1995), this is not the view
found in the CST. is is also evident from how the CST deﬁne the purpose of business:
“the purpose of a business ﬁrm is not simply to make a proﬁt, but it is to be found in its very existence as
a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a
particular group at the service of the whole of society”
(John Paul II 2016, para. 35).
From this statement it is clear that the ﬁrm must operate for the common good “at the
service of the whole of society”, Furthermore, the ﬁrm must provide something more than
just proﬁt (stakeholder approach). is also implies that the Church does acknowledge proﬁt
as “the regulator of the life of business”. However, proﬁt is not the only criteria for success:
“other human and moral factors must also be considered” (John Paul II 2016, para. 35).
Another interesting observation from how the CST deﬁnes the purpose of business is
the “community of persons”. As noted by Abela (2001, p. 112) this implies that employees
must not be treated as only means for proﬁt, but also that the purpose of the ﬁrm includes
creating employment. is latter takes us to the third perspective we address in this section,
namely the importance of work itself. e CST states that a man is subject to work, and
work “serves to realise his humanity, to fulﬁl the calling to be a person that is his by reason
of his very humanity” (John Paul II 2016, para. 6).
In sum then, the CST argues that the main purpose of businesses is to address real human
needs. To achieve this, businesses must (1) create, develop and produce goods and services;
(2) organise good and productive work, and (3) use resources to create and to share wealth
and prosperity in sustainable ways (Pontiﬁcal Council for Justice and Peace 2012, para.
“Entrepreneurs, managers, and all who work in business should be encouraged to recognize their work as
a true vocation and to respond to God’s call in the spirit of true disciples. In doing so, they engage in the
noble task of serving their brothers and sisters and of building up the Kingdom of God”
(Pontiﬁcal Council for Justice and Peace 2012, para. 87).
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A Haugean Higher Purpose of Business
Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771–1824) experienced a spiritual breakthrough at the age of 25
as he was working on the ﬁelds of his parent’s farm. is experience changed the course of
his life and he received what he experienced to be a divine calling. In describing this calling
later in life, as he was part of a public debate with one of his critics about whether starting
and developing businesses were spiritual tasks, he explained:
“My calling is to love God and my neighbour”.
Hauge clearly saw entrepreneurship and involvement in diﬀerent business endeavours as
part of his divine calling. us, he found this to be a legitimate and genuine way to express
his faith and improve local communities in diﬀerent parts of Norway (Ims, Supphellen
and Liland 2019, p. 317–318). He and his followers started an entrepreneurial network in
Norway in the 1800s that gave birth to hundreds of businesses, many of which emphasised a
clear dual purpose, searching to achieve both social and ﬁnancial goals (Liland 2020). us,
the higher purpose of making society better seems to be an integral and vital component of
the Haugean approach to business, and an important part of his motivation to be engaged
in these endeavours in the ﬁrst place (Grytten and Minde 2019). Hauge himself expressed
his approach like this: “Jeg er kun en husholder over Guds gaver, (translation: “I am only
a steward of the gifts God has entrusted me”) (Kvamen 1974, p. 414). He was primarily
concerned with “the noble purpose” of the diﬀerent businesses he founded.
According to Robert K. Greenleaf (1904–1990), who developed the leadership theory
he coined servant leadership, organisations, as well as leaders, ﬁrst and foremost should ﬁll
the role of a servant (Greenleaf 1977). us, organisations both in the public, business,
and civil sector play an important role in improving society and making local communities
better in diﬀerent ways. is idea ﬁts well with the perspective of business serving a higher
purpose as described in this chapter. Also, the idea of service and developing businesses that
serve society seems to agree with Hauge’s approach to business.
We will here describe three themes or examples of higher purpose in businesses founded
by Hauge and his followers, that is, improving literacy, alleviating poverty, and providing
food and other necessities during times of famine and crisis.
According to Haukland (2014, p. 539), Hans Nielsen Hauge “printed around 40 diﬀerent
texts”. Sjursen (1997, p. 20) claims Hauge wrote 33 books himself, and also published writ-
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ings from other authors. Either way, this is a quite impressive achievement, even more so
when seen in light of all the other projects Hauge was involved in and based on the fact that
he was not a trained writer or author. Several businesses were devoted to this part of Hauge’s
endeavours. e printing press in Kristiansand, and the mills in Eker and Fennefoss, produc-
ing, among other things, paper for books, are examples of this (Breistein 1955, p. 126–134).
Typically, many of the Haugean businesses were diverse, family owned, and were based on
equality and employee welfare as foundational organisational values. us, they employed
people with disabilities, appointing female leaders, during a time when this was extremely
rare, and treated and paid their employees well, compared to other companies. Haukland
(2014) argues that Hauge was instrumental in the literacy development in Norway in the
1800s, and as we have seen, many of the Haugean businesses were important in this respect.
us, the purpose of improving literacy in Norway was fundamental in establishing several
of the Haugean enterprises.
For Hauge the book production was closely related to his aim of spreading the message,
that is the gospel, he felt divinely inspired to preach, and to expose what he saw as double
standards among local priests and other authority ﬁgures in Norway. Some books were
actually given away for free, not because the Haugean companies were not concerned with
proﬁts, but because they were focused on the mission of spreading the message.
e Haugean businesses worked towards several social goals, and one of them was alleviating
poverty. is was accomplished in several ways. First and most importantly, they created
jobs by starting a substantial number of new businesses. Initially, many of those employed
in the Haugean companies were recruited from the groups or society of friends that were
formed after Hauge’s preaching both in person and through his books. is opened up new
work-related possibilities for many and set in motion a new form of social mobility in Nor-
way. At Hauge’s time, about 90% of the Norwegian population lived in rural areas (Dalgaard
and Supphellen 2011), with farming as their main occupation, and social mobility was low.
Both theoretically and empirically, it has been demonstrated that entrepreneurship, and
thus also innovation, is an important factor in stimulating economic development and
growth (Schumpeter 1934). Two main reasons for this are that successful entrepreneurial
endeavours create new jobs (Baumol 1996; Schumpeter 1934), and the fact that entrepre-
neurs form new organisations and institutions (High 2009). Starting as entrepreneurs and
merchants, many of the Haugeans were responsible for creating thousands of jobs in Norway
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in the 1800s (Grytten 2013; Rødal and Kiplesund 2009). e Haugean companies were
also known for both treating and paying their employees well. Obviously, this helped them
create wealth and set them on a path to a better future for themselves and their families.
us, by creating job opportunities and establishing new businesses all over Norway, the
Haugean companies were important in creating jobs and alleviating poverty in a time of
transition in Norway.
Food Distribution and Fighting Famine
During his travels all over Norway, mostly by foot, Hans Nielsen Hauge discovered that
the northern part of Norway was in desperate need of ﬂour and other necessities, especially
during years of famine (Kullerud 1996, p. 223–226; Ravnåsen 2015, p. 48). us, as a
merchant, he became involved in diﬀerent trading activities in the northern part of Norway,
exchanging ﬂour and other necessities with ﬁsh (Breistein 1955, p. 112–119). He purchased
several ships and used them to transport goods along the coast, and in trading to support
the population in the northern part of Norway (Sjursen 1997, p. 141). e travels he did as
part of these projects were both risky and costly for Hauge (Norborg 1966, p. 242). Some
observers have commented that he was shocked to see the hunger and pain experienced by
the people living in the northern part of Norway (Kullerud 1996, p. 223–226; Sjursen 1997).
Here, Hauge’s involvement in salt production in Norway is also worth mentioning. In
1809 during the war with Britain, Norway was in short supply of salt, which was needed,
among other things, to preserve meat (Kullerud 1996, p. 298–302). Hauge, who had been
arrested in 1804 because he at times had been travelling without the proper paperwork and
preaching without permission from the local priest, was released from prison to help found
and develop companies along the coast of Norway that could distil salt from sea water. After
completing a few projects, succeeding in increasing the Norwegian production of salt and
training others to do the same, he was put back in prison (Ravnåsen 2015, p. 55–57). e
patriotic and serving motivation of Hauge by doing this, is clearly seen in his actions and
the way he initially volunteers to set these projects in motion. e Danish-Norwegian state
rewarded this by putting him back in prison. He was not released until 1814, when Norway
gained a greater degree of independence. Unfortunately, his health was severely damaged
after almost ten years of imprisonment (Kullerud 1996, p. 306).
e commitment the Haugean companies demonstrated by pursuing these three themes,
among several others, of course, conveys a commitment to the common good, and a way
of expressing Christian love and service. Taking responsibility for meeting the needs of the
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poor and needy has long been a Christian virtue, and for Hauge, this was a way of expressing
his faith and serving society in general.
Some of the businesses started by Hauge and others in the same entrepreneurial network,
did not clearly indicate that they had a higher purpose, at least not by having a distinct
business model with a clearly stated social purpose. However, we need to focus on the overall
perspective of the Haugeans and why they started businesses in the ﬁrst place.
As discussed above, the claim that Hans Nielsen Hauge and the Haugean businesses were
motivated by a higher purpose seems to be warranted. Based on both business and manage-
ment theory and Christian perspectives, business can be deﬁned as having a higher purpose,
and thus not just proﬁt maximisation. Serving society and its many stakeholders, including
employees and customers, is a fundamental part of the purpose of business.
is is not just describing a vision of the future of how businesses ought to operate.
Fundamentally, this is also part of the purpose of business from a historical perspective.
Illustrating this, we have described the higher purpose of companies founded by Hans
Nielsen Hauge and the Haugeans, and how they both worked towards reaching ﬁnancial
and social goals. Among other things, these businesses addressed and met social needs such
as poverty, illiteracy, and hunger.
Abela, A. V. (2001). Proﬁt and More: Catholic Social Teaching and the Purpose of the Firm. Journal of
Business Ethics 31(2): 107–116.
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