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Philosophy of Management

Volume 6, Issue 2, 2008
Ethics in Practice

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Displaying: 1-13 of 13 documents


1. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Editorial: ‘Ethics in Practice’
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2. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Axel Seemann Rational Trust: An Interview with Onora O’Neill
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Onora O’Neill was Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1992 to 2006. She studied philosophy, psychology and physiology at Oxford and earned a PhD from Harvard, with John Rawls as supervisor. She taught at Barnard College, the women’s college at Columbia University, New York, before taking up a post at the University of Essex, where she became Professor of Philosophy in 1987. She lectures in the faculties of Philosophy and History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge, and has written widely on ethics and political philosophy, with particular interests in questions of international justice, and in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.
3. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Michael Williams Towards a Better Understanding of Managerial Agency: Intentionality, Rationality and Emotion
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It is time to transcend the arid debate between rationality and ir-, a-, or non-rationality as our basic assumption about human agency.1 There are powerful arguments and extensive evidence both for and against the rationality assumption, with heavily defended entrenchments on both sides. Managers andmanagement scholars continually make at least tacit assumptions about how they expect others to behave. If only we could have in both theory and practice the coherence and precision of rational models as well as the descriptive richness of ‘behavioural’ approaches. The message of this paper is that perhaps we can. The advent of consciousness studies and, more recently, neuroeconomics would seem to indicate the way forward to transcend the opposition in some kind of synthesis.This paper investigates rationality in the light of Daniel Dennett’s thesis that it is at the core of all intentionality that is the defining characteristic of mental phenomena. Neuroeconomics seeks to enhance understanding of agency by investigating new insights on the materialist basis of mental phenomenologyin the neurophysiology of the brain and nervous system. Experimental evidence mapping intentional states onto neurophysiological states is emerging, some researchers even claiming to have found a ‘neurophysiological utility function’. Dennett closes the circuit by locating the existence of brain-hardware supporting satisficing intentional choice and action as the output of evolutionary ‘design’. The dichotomy is transcended: satisficing models (of which normative optimising rational choice models are a reasonable abstraction) are a good basis both for statistical prediction of the behaviour of large numbers, and as the first base on which to construct and refine a model of expectation-formation about particular types of agent and then of individual agents. Using both the old (‘external’) and the new (sub-individual) behaviourism as well as work on unpacking the abstract notion of rationality, we can concretise optimising rational choice both generally, for epistemic theory-building purposes, and specifically for understanding and deploying models of managerial agency. Such models will need to incorporate emotion with cognition in an integrated approach.
4. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
David Love A Philosophy of Maintenance? Engaging with the Concept of Software
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Although reducing the costs of software maintenance has long been held as an important goal, few researchers have studied software maintenance - except in the context of software design. However, thinking in software design is itself muddled by the frequent confusion over the term ‘software’ and ‘programs’. In this paper we argue for a re-examination of the underlying philosophical foundations of programs, in order to establish software as a phenomenon in its own right. Once we understand the basic structure of software theories, we will be in a better position to understand how theories of software relate to theories of programs. This might finally provide the insight needed to achieve the long awaited reduction in the cost of software maintenance.
5. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Pia Bramming Immanent Philosophy: The Consequences and Concepts of Human Resource Management
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In this paper I present a philosophically-inspired approach to the field of human resource management (HRM). Such an approach demands a certain kind of reader and a certain kind of HR professional: readers and professionals who are less occupied with the application and implementation of new HR technologies and more with the complex impact of HRM technologies and practices on individuality and sociality. I argue that concepts, technologies and practices of HRM are in practice elements in an immanent philosophy, which reproduces and transforms how individuals and organisations can come into being. Two seemingly contradictory, simultaneous tendencies are discussed. First, the practices and technologies of HRM can and have been seen as disciplining, conservative forces, creating egoistic individuals with little or no interest in sharing a common responsibility towards the organisation. Second, a new kind of sociality arises from the openings that practices and technologies are creating, as the social does not so much disappear as take on new forms. I will discuss these different kinds of beings through a case example involving a group performance appraisal system in a major financial institution. I conclude by reflecting on the matter-of-fact spirit in which HR technologies and practices are implemented and the vast power which the ‘Resource Management’ exercises in creating the ‘Human’.
6. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Betina Wolfgang Rennison Intimacy of Management: Codified Construction of Personalised Selves
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‘Individualisation’ is a well-known societal phenomenon of late modernity. At the organisational level it shows up in different managerial forms and HRM technologies that focus more and more intensively on the employee as an individual person. In order to assess an employee’s personal contribution andcommitment emphasis is put on the characteristics of individuals: their talents, performance and personality. Reporting on research on an individualised pay system in Denmark, this paper illustrates the empirical complexity of this personalisation process. It shows how the employee is created and ‘codified’ as an individual person. It occurs in three different ways according to the codes of learning, love and the moral. It indicates that the postulated regime of individualisation follows a variety of trajectories to reach its target making for a quite subtle way of intimately managing human relations.
7. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Howard Harris Traditional Virtues and Contemporary Management
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In the management domain the revival of interest in virtue ethics has been not so much in seeking a deeper understanding of the virtues themselves as in finding exemplars and pursuing the concept that virtue is a proper end of business. The aim of this paper is to show that a philosophical treatment of the great virtues can enlighten management understanding of them and to examine in more detail courage, love and wisdom. The paper includes an overview of the approach to the virtues in contemporary management literature, a brief summary of the traditional account of the moral virtues, and discussion of six contemporary concepts of management. The contribution which an understanding of individual virtues can make to effective management will then be explored, drawing on earlier work by the author in relation to both courage and love as management virtues.
8. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Esther Roca Rethinking Aristotelian Communities as Contemporary Corporations
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This paper investigates two trends which propose an approach to organisations and ethics different from those advocated by the modern tradition. It firste analyses the re-surfacing of the moral and social thinking of Aristotle in the work of a growing number of organisational theorists. It argues that Aristotle’scontemporary resurgence has been partly within the framework of corporate culturism.With this in mind, we reinterpret some elements of the Aristotelian social-moral system in such a way that it can be applied to contemporary organisations. Recognising that some Aristotelian concepts can limit its applicability, we then draw on Levinas’ insights. His approach sheds some post-modern light on thesocial-moral Aristotelian system, by allowing the emergence of a more human and up-to-date vision of organisations and employee management. We contend that the fusion of both discourses results in a more complete understanding of organisations and its articulation with ethics.
9. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Lionel Boxer Sustainability Perspectives
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Various stakeholders approach sustainability in their own way. How they do this is reflected in their discursive behaviour. The stakeholder groups explored here include Traditional Shareholders, Incentive-Coerced Management, Pro-Sustainability Corporate, and Activists. Each of these stakeholder groups is shown to engage in a unique discourse, which provides insight into how each approach sustainability. This paper draws on Foucault’s ideas to help understand these discourses in terms of a framework based on Harré’s positioning theory. A new level of understanding is derived about the different points of view about sustainability. Business leaders can harness this to improve how they approach sustainability.
10. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Murray Sheard Corporate Responsibilities and Property Rights in the Management of Natural Resources
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Businesses interface with the natural world through rights to property. The shape of these rights and the responsibilities we assign to managers are important determinants of both patterns of resource use and pollutant levels. Consequently, conflicts have arisen between regulating bodies, indigenous groups, andcorporations over the entitlements of businesses in the use of their property when that property is ecologically sensitive or significant.In this paper I develop an account of the ethical responsibilities of managers regarding their treatment of the environment and their use of natural resources. This account is based on a philosophical examination of the nature of property rights. After a tour of traditional arguments employed to defend the institution ofprivate property, I develop a new conception of property rights over objects that have a high natural resource component. I show that in today’s world, ethical concerns that motivated John Locke will yield property rights that are insufficiently strong to override a democratic say in overall use patterns and mustbe sensitive to factors such as need, scarcity, and the interests of stakeholders. I show a similar result for utilitarian arguments for property.On this foundation I develop a conception of property in key environmental resources that includes a stewardship element. To embody this, I suggest a set of ethical responsibilities for managers over certain natural resources that springs from it. I argue for obligations restricting harmful use patterns as a way ofincluding the other goals (eg public participation, sustainability) that we care about, in a manner which clashes least with the liberty of owners and the efficiency of production. The outcome is a set of rights and responsibilities that take global environmental interests into account, but preserve the thrust of what is good about the institution of private property: that it rewards labour and facilitates a stable and efficient free exchange system. As a version of private property, it retains many of the advantages of global capitalism while attaching responsibilities to business decision makers.
11. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Martin Kelly, Graham Oliver Wisdom and Ethics in Management: The Educational Society and Sustainability
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In this paper we discuss ‘sustainable management’ which is being advocated by some in the business community. It may be that a professed commitment to sustainable development is merely a way for contemporary businesses to continue with ‘business as usual’ behind its façade. We believe that if businesspractices are to change, then education must change to allow students to live the ‘good’ lives promoted both by early philosophers and now by those professing the merits of sustainable development. The sustainable development paradigm, if adopted fully, may result in the best of business decisions being made; it may provide humankind with a way to avoid the self-destruction which has been threatening throughout the 20th Century. Sustainable management requires business decision makers to consider how their decisions will affect the social and natural environments as well as their organisations’ profitability. It encourages a moral approach to business decision making and requires managers to recognise that genuinely long-term decision criteria will ultimately benefit their businesses, their societies, the natural environment and humankind. Although sustainable management is promoted as a ‘new’ paradigm, we argue that its principles should have been promoted through our educational systems for many centuries; they have not been.
12. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Kok Leong Choo Presumptions and Presuppositions in Management Education: The Case of Three UK Business Schools
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This paper sets out and examines the presuppositions and presumptions of management educators. It is based on an empirical study of 25 management educators from three UK Business Schools who are responsible for management education and development. The aim of the study is not to generalise thefindings but to adopt an interpretive methodology to identify and question the hidden and unexamined presuppositions and presumptions of management educators that underlie management programme development and design. The author finds the presuppositions and presumptions problematic, inaccurate and uncritical, and they are responsible for producing and re-producing the practices of management for contemporary organisations and wider society. The author articulates these concerns in a philosophical manner in order to raise questions and challenge the embedded fads and wisdom. This paper concludes by inviting management educators to rethink management education and development and examine their own presuppositions and presumptions underpinning programme development and design.
13. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 2
Cynthia Dereli, Peter Stokes Reconceptualising Modernity for Management Studies: Exploring the Tension Between the Scientific and the Spiritual in the Age of Modernism
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Contemporaneously, management studies have focused considerable attention on postmodernity. This engagement is premised on a particular reading of modernity and this paper identifies the frequent implication that spiritual and anti-rational aspects cannot be located in modernist experience and thus seek responses within post-modernism. However, the paper suggests that the spiritual and the anti-rational are integral to modernity through modernistic constructions in the arts. While a tension between the rational and the anti-rational within modernity is occasionally acknowledged, art studies discussed underwrite the dominance of science as illustrated particularly through Greenberg’s account of abstract art. Alternative accounts of abstract art foreground the spiritual in the lives and work of some leading artists and the Theosophy Movement during the High, Modernist period (1890 - 1930). The surfaced tensions between the scientific and the spiritual at the heart of Modernity are related to management theory and its engagement with postmodernity.