GNH in Business
A Case Study from Bhutan
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Hotel Zhiwa Ling & Yangphel Adventure Travel have been the centre stage for a daring undertaking during 2011 by developing a sustainable business model and program based on Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). The term GNH was coined by His Majesty the 4th King of Bhutan some 35 years ago to emphasize the importance of ‘happiness’ as a measure of society’s progress rather than just measuring a nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since then, Bhutan has implemented extensive systems for measuring its people’s happiness, for guiding government decision making to favour decisions that will increase rather than decrease the GNH index of the nation and for infusing the entire education system with GNH principles, values and behaviours.
Private business is now the obvious next sector in Bhutan to infuse all interactions with GNH behaviours and decision making that will increase happiness levels of all the people a business interacts with and impacts upon. Therefore, Hotel Zhiwa Ling and Yangphel invested in the first year of a three year project to build the foundations of a GNH in Business Program, which goes way beyond any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs if implemented fully.
The essence of any GNH in Business approach lies in the fact that it includes all of the aspects of a CSR program, plus an unwaver- ing commitment by a business to transforming its owners/ shareholders, staff, customers and any other people the company affects. The transformation that GNH is looking to achieve is an increased sense and awareness of sufficiency, combined with a sense of empowerment that ultimately leads to powerful and positive actions that balance profit-making with increasing happiness for the great majority and not just a few. The type of transformation of each individual within the business needs to go way beyond motivational, inspirational and team-building games that might create some temporary office fun.
The focus for the first year (2011) of the GNH in Business program within Yangphel and Hotel Zhiwa Ling was to build awareness and understanding within the companies of GNH, environmental issues and monitoring of the company’s environmental impacts. Since there have been no previous sustainability indicators or benchmarks developed specifically for Bhutan’s tourism sector the findings presented within a GNH in Business case study report may be useful in providing a basis for environmental benchmarks for the tourism industry in Bhutan. The case study may also be useful in showing how GNH can be used as a tool in a business context.
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