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Philosophy of Management

Volume 7
Perspectives and Domains

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1. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Editorial: Green Shoots and Perennials
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2. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Lindsay Dawson Stockholders Versus Stakeholders: Implications for Business Ethics
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This paper analyses the arguments for two competing ethical models of business. On the one hand there are theorists like Milton Friedman who claim that the sole social responsibility of business leaders is to maximise stockholder profits. On the other, there are those who argue that a business has ethical responsibilities to many stakeholders: employees, stockholders, retailers, customers, and so on.I argue that a business has ethical responsibility over those functions and purposes over which it has the most autonomous control. The production and selling of products and services for customers is the primary purpose of a business. The generation of profit is a contingent purpose dependent on the exchange between the business and the customer. I define excellent functioning businesses as those that synergise the purposes of stakeholders to provide products and services with ethical outcomes. When ethical considerations and business interests between stakeholders conflict, the responsibility of a business to its customers has primacy over those related to business input stakeholders such as employees, stockholders and suppliers.
3. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Jeff Waistell Organising Values
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This is the second in a series of two papers by the same author on organisational values. The first paper, in the previous issue of Philosophy of Management,1 showed how senior managers interpret texts to constitute organisational values. The research showed that organisational values are constituted through three hermeneutic circles – fragmentation/integration, conceptuality/contextuality and temporality – that provide an integrated medium for interpreting values. The three hermeneutic circles are mediated by a fourth: the tropological circle, where metaphor and homonymy fuse horizons, and synecdoche and metonymy relate parts and whole. Both texts and tropes mediate the transvaluation of organisational values across time. The first paper reported the findings and built a theoretical framework, while this second paper builds on the theoretical and empirical work to consider the implications for management practice.
4. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Miriam Green Analysis of a Text and its Representations: Univocal Truth or a Situation of Undecidability?
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This paper is concerned with the representation in academic journal articles and textbooks of an organisation theory. In the case of Burns’ and Stalker’s book The Management of Innovation (1961,1966), summaries of the text by other scholars have arguably differed from the original authors and among themselves in their emphases. Similar points have been made about representations of other theorists such as Kurt Lewin and, perhaps most famously, Adam Smith. They all raise issues about the meanings of texts and where such meanings lie: with the author, the reader, the text itself or perhaps some combination of these. They also raise questions about whether texts can be shown to have definitive meanings; and if not, whether there are any criteria for adjudicating on the validity of varied interpretations.Representations by textbook writers are analysed and questions about the meaning of texts raised by ‘structuralist’ and ‘deconstructionist’ writers examined. Their writings beg certain questions about textual representations. Perhaps the most extreme of these views is Barthes’ concept of the ‘death of the author’. Like Barthes, Derrida argues, for the reasons mentioned above, that there is no underlying, final decipherable meaning in a text, but gives more credence to the role of the author, accepting the validity of the author’s consciousness and intentions as one of the sources of meaning in texts. There are also other sources: the situatedness and historical context of the text and the text itself.Derrida’s concept of ‘différance’ requires the reader to engage in an analysis of the text which offers limitless possibilities for interpretation and a renunciation of the certainty of truth, because the meaning of a text may extend beyond the limits of our knowledge at any one time. His notion of the ‘logic of supplementarity’ is a further means to analyse texts, as it also disprivileges obvious or overt meanings in texts by overturning hierarchy in oppositions and questioning univocal definitions of meaning.Questions inspired by these and other writers give rise to an exploration of who is speaking in the text; which subject matter is represented as central and which as marginal; binary oppositions within the text and intertextual connections. The paper then begins the more ambitious task of answering the broader question as to whether it can be shown that there are more and less ‘representative’ or ‘stronger’ interpretations of a text.
5. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Stephen Sheard Continental Philosophy and Organisational Studies: A Critique of Aspects of Postmodern thought in OS
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In this paper I debate a range of unnoticed presuppositions which are used by a selection of influential thinkers in organisation studies to adapt a theory of the irreal to the social realm. I first examine a selection of ‘Postmodern’ authors and focus on the ‘Process Metaphysics’ theories (especially those influenced by Bergson) present in excerpts of contemporary OS ‘Postmodernism’. I argue that ‘Process-Metaphysics’ is the theoretical movement which underpins these aspects of Postmodernism in organisation studies. This is evinced in the writings of Chia, and Cooper which adopt a dualist view of language deployment and link this with both an anti-rationalist and anti-individualist perspective. I also examine this Postmodern thesis of Process Metaphysics in relation to its adoption of the device of the Identity Metaphor, which fastens its theories to the ‘real.’
6. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Andy Adcroft, Spinder Dhaliwal Disconnections in Management Theory and Practice: Poetry, Numbers and Postmodernism
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This essay is concerned with what Abbinnett1 described as fundamental to the discourses of social science: truth and its construction. The central problem around which the narrative is built is a growing disconnection in one area of social science, management research, between how truth is frequently defined and used and the approaches taken to constructing that truth. The result of this is an intellectual impurity whereby management research occupies an incoherent intellectual space somewhere between modernism and postmodernism. Our argument is that, for a host of probable reasons, management research in many areas is dominated by the search for rational and scientific truth through the use of quantitative methodologies underpinned by a positivist philosophy. The resultof this is frequently truth diluted rather than truth distilled. The essay discusses different routes to establishing a type of truth, the location of management research within a modern-postmodern continuum and the implications of this for management researchers. We begin, however, with a brief discussion of the nature of truth in social science.
7. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 3
Katalin Illes Defining Trust as Action: An Example from Hungary
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The paper begins with the account of a focus group discussion of Hungarian female managers who demonstrated high level of trust. Drawing on the discussion the author explores the nature of trust and looks at works and research findings in different disciplines. In psychology Erikson’s findings on human growth and development are discussed. Representatives of Eastern and Western philosophy are quoted to highlight the underlying differences of thinking in relation to trust. The impact of cultural heritage and the influence of the environment on trust add further dimensions to the argument. In conclusion it is suggested that management education could be a platform for further research and exploration of trust in individuals and organisations.
8. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Editorial: Perspectives and Domains
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9. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Axel Seemann Language, Mind and Social Reality: An Interview with John Searle
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10. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Mark R. Dibben Organisations and Organising: Understanding and Applying Whitehead’s Processual Account
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Process physics is, like all physics, a model of reality. However, unlike traditional substance-based versions, process physics implements many process philosophical concepts, perhaps most notably, the notion of internal relations. It argues that the universe can best be understood in terms of selfreferentialsemantic information that is remarkably similar to mathematical stochastic neural networks research in biology. It argues that information patterns generate new information through causal efficacy and, ultimately, internal integration, generating self-organising patterns of relationships. These patterns or relations have an intrinsic value inherent in their self-actualisation and thereby experience a subjective unity in response to influences from the totality of their past. The result is an internally related self-organising stream of experiences that provides a defining essence objectively distinguishable in abstraction and as exhibiting all the characteristics of a quantum space and quantum matter.In process physics, therefore, quantum phenomena emerge where no prior assumption regarding their existence is made or prescribed at the start. Rather, they are internally generated as an inherent feature of an experientially becoming reality, growing in size over time and thus having an observable key feature – i.e. a ‘defining essence’ – of an expanding universe. Reality itself is now understood – and modeled – as having a primitive form of self awareness. By this we mean that it has, in the process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s words, prehensions of other actualities as objects in terms of their ‘provocation of some special activity within the subject’. In more biologically complex information systems these ultimately lead to experiential integration as conscious discrimination of contrasts in prior experiences. Reality is, ultimately, not about the identification of isolated individuals through externality, but related individuals through internality.The purpose of this paper is to arrive at a point whereby we might apply these ultimate principles of reality to management. To do this, we shall start by considering Whitehead’s own renderings of management issues, before turning to the use management studies has or has not made of his work. In the light of this discussion, we shall question the principle of deconstructive postmodernism that underpins this body of work. We shall then ask whether and to what extent Whiteheadian principles might help explain organisations as ‘event fields’ within which ‘persons-in-communities’ reside. This will then allow us to consider organisations in terms of a process reinterpretation of physics. In so doing, we shall uncover a final contradiction, between Whitehead’s understanding of organisation and his principles concerning the application of metaphysics, to which we shall at least indicate a solution.
11. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Stephen Sheard Strategy as a Feature of Reflective Action: Edmund Husserl’s Theories as a Temporal Model of Organisational Identity
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Husserl’s theories, which systematise the role of reflection and consciousness, can be used to give an alternative view of organisational evolution as the flow of presence punctuated by absence. This perspective adopts a contrasting approach to that of the poststructuralist. A synthesis of the Identity metaphor with the theory of strategy allows us to contextualise an application of Husserl’s theory of the epoche (the intentional reduction) and link both ontological and epistemic dimensions in a theory of organisation. The firm is seen as acquiring a temporal dimension through the consciousness of strategic policy and its successive images are modelled as analogous with the epoche. This modelling process also links in with the collective belief system of the organisational paradigm, which is represented to the organisation and unfolded extrinsically as a series of images which are the discernible face of Strategic policy. This facilitates a modified social-constructivism which is better able to accommodate the actuality of organisational development than more extreme process-orientated accounts of organisation. A debate is re-opened on these themes which have influenced organisation studies from a philosophical slant.
12. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Jeff Waistell The Textual Constitution of Organisational Values
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A range of stakeholders are interested in organisational values, with demands from consumers, trade unions and pressure groups. Organisations face the challenge of integrating employees from several cultures and overcoming value differences. Coupled with this emphasis on organisational values there is increasing interest in the role of discourse in constituting meaning. This research shows how texts constitute organisational values. Hermeneutics is used to analyse the texts of the Open University and UK FTSE4good companies. The research shows that organisational values are constituted through three hermeneutic circles – fragmentation/integration, conceptuality/contextuality and temporality – that provide an integrated medium for interpreting values. The three hermeneutic circles are mediated by a fourth: the tropological circle, where metaphor and homonymy fuse horizons, and synecdoche and metonymy relate parts and whole. Both texts and tropes mediate the transvaluation of organisational values across time. In recontextualising its values the organisation becomes a metaphor of itself.
13. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Ralph Bathurst Enlivening Management Practice Through Aesthetic Engagement: Vico, Baumgarten and Kant
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Organisational aesthetics is a burgeoning field with a growing community of scholars engaged in arts-based and aesthetic approaches to research. Recent developments in this field can be traced back to the works of early Enlightenment writers such as Vico, Baumgarten and Kant. This paper examines the contributions of these three philosophers. In particular it focuses on Vico’s treatment of history and myth; Baumgarten’s notion of sensation and its relationship to rationality; and Kant’s investigations into form and content. An exploration of an artistic organisation in change demonstrates how the conduct of an aesthetically aware manager can be informed by qualities such as an alert imagination and intuition, comfort with the chaotic, backward thinking, and attention to inner sensations and perceptions, all working together to provide a coherent view of the organisation.
14. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Mikko Koria On Innovation and Capability: A Holistic View
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While innovation is recognised as a key driver of economic growth and competitiveness, less attention has been given to the study of the underpinning capability to be innovative, which is here taken to be the ability to successfully exploit new external knowledge. This conceptual paper examines the parallels between innovation theory in the administrative context and Amartya Sen’s capability approach, a wide vision of human potential and development. It is argued that applying Sen’s approach in this fashion enables a novel perspective on the link between the innovation potential that the individual may have and the constraints that social arrangements impose. This new insight can assist the formulation, management and acceptance of organisational change processes that aim toenhance the ability to see, assimilate and apply new knowledge. These processes are especially challenging in non-western contexts. This paper begins by introducing Sen’s approach, proceeds to establish a link with concepts of public sector administrative innovation, then examines some particular aspects of the relationship between the two, and concludes with some suggestions for further research.
15. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Alf Rehn, Saara Taalas On Wittgenstein and Management at Rest: Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Problems
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This essay proposes that management is too often seen as problem solving, and that the equally important art of ignoring problems has not received enough attention. With reference to the thinking of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the essay argues for letting go, and attempting to leave thoughts at rest.
16. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Ron Beadle, Geoff Moore MacIntyre, Empirics and Organisation: Guest Editors’ Introduction
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17. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Alasdair MacIntyre How Aristotelianism Can Become Revolutionary: Ethics, Resistance, and Utopia
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18. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Samantha Coe, Ron Beadle Could We Know a Practice-Embodying Institution if We Saw One?
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This paper considers the resources MacIntyre provides for undertaking empirical work using his goods-virtues-practices-institutions framework alongside the attendant challenges of doing such work. It focuses on methods that might be employed in judging the extent to which observed social arrangements mayconform to the standards required by a practice-embodying institution. It concludes by presenting the outline of an empirical project exploring at a music facility in the North East of England, The Sage Gateshead.
19. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Lucy Finchett-Maddock An Anarchist’s Wetherspoons or Virtuous Resistance? Social Centres as MacIntyre’s Vision of Practice-based Communities
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This paper uses narrative from the social centre movement in the UK to argue that social centres are examples of the MacIntyrean small communities that can virtuously resist the overbearing market influence. Looking at the contrast between rented and squatted centres, the paper argues that those that are squatted are practice-based communities, and those that are rented, are institutions. This therefore highlights the interrupting role of the market and argues that the rented centres are incompatible with MacIntyre’s ideal.
20. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 7 > Issue: 1
Lee Salter The Goods of Community? The Potential of Journalism as a Social Practice
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This paper considers the question of whether journalism can be considered to be a social practice. After considering some of the goods of journalism the paper moves to investigate how external goods can corrupt the practice and make it somewhat ineffective. The paper therefore looks to consider ways in which the goods claimed have been better served in ‘radical’ journalism. Bristol Independent Media Centre is then evaluated as an example of an active project in which the goods of community are pursued through an inclusive form of participatory journalism.