Compassion for success

The CoPassion research project studies whether compassionate companies are successful companies. Can competitiveness and humanity coexist in an organisation? 

“A company’s profits and the commitment of its employees depend on its values and attitudes. Compassion is an asset in competition and a valuable immaterial resource,” says Anne Birgitta Pessi, professor of Church and Social Studies and head of the Tekes-funded project CoPassion at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Theology.

“Our project asks what compassion means in the everyday work of an organisation and in the interactions of different types of partnerships. How is it created, maintained and reinforced, and how can it improve profitability?

The CoPassion project was launched on 1 January 2015, and it seeks to aid companies and organisations in Finland to recognise the opportunities afforded by the generation of immaterial value, which can become assets in competition.

“We focus particularly on the effects of compassion exercises in different communities, in relation to innovations and creativity, commitment, occupational wellbeing, sales, customer experience as well as to promoting an atmosphere and culture of compassion and motivation.”

Values at work and in school

According to Professor Pessi, the project anticipates a long-term shift towards a leadership and work culture which is more focused on values and significance. She believes compassion is an upcoming theme in business, but there is little Finnish business or research data on the topic.

In addition to developing work and leadership for the future, the project looks at learning. Compassion exercises in new learning solutions create enthusiasm and make it easier to learn new things.

The goals of the project also include helping Finland create the best jobs in Europe and participating in the development of attractive, sustainable cities which support contemporary values.

Art, companies and researchers

CoPassion combines experts in theology, economics, philosophy, special education, social sciences and psychology in one team. The project’s researchers focus on compassion in the everyday work, leadership and client encounters of organisations. In addition, the project studies how compassion impacts the companies’ profitability.

The researchers and steering group members of the three-year group include representatives from the University of Helsinki, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Aalto University and the University of Jyväskylä. Project partners include the Helsinki Academy of Philosophy, LähiTapiola, the Ateneum Art Museum and MTV3.

The research project is funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. In addition, the project has collected a total of €165,000 from ten different companies.

Compassion – a key to successful and sustainable business

Read more about a related research project: CoCARE – Cooperation in Care