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Philosophy of Management

Volume 3
Developing Perspectives

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Displaying: 1-20 of 26 documents


1. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 3
Editorial: ‘What Is Management?’
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2. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 3
Bruce G. Charlton, Peter Andras What Is Management and What Do Managers Do? A Systems Theory Account
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Systems Theory analyses the world in terms of communications and divides the natural world into environment and systems. Systems are characterised by their high density of communications and tend to become more complex and efficient with time, usually by means of increased specialisation and coordinationof functions.Management is an organisational sub-system which models all necessary aspects of organisational activity such that this model may be used for monitoring, prediction and planning of the organisation as a whole. The function of a specific management system depends on its history of selection by interactions with theenvironment (which includes other systems). The main function of a management system will be a consequence of the most powerful and sustained selection pressure it has experienced.Systems Theory implies a management science which is quantitative and comparative. It is quantitative because it is based upon the measurement and mapping of communications as the basis of analysis; it is comparative because evaluations relate to specific variables measured in a specific spatio-temporal contextand subjected to analytic processes of constrained complexity.Selection processes are broadly responsible for the dominance of management in contemporary Western societies. The complexity of management systems will probably continue to increase for as long as the efficiency-enhancing potential of complexity outweighs its increased transaction costs.
3. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 3
Michael Macaulay, Alan Lawton Misunderstanding Machiavelli in Management: Metaphor, Analogy and Historical Method
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This article investigates some of the various ways in which theorists have used Machiavelli (and more specifically The Prince) in a business and management context and suggests that the two most common approaches, the use of metaphor and the use of analogy, are both flawed. Metaphor often relies on a reading of Machiavelli that cannot be sustained, whereas analogy takes Machiavelli too far out of historical context. This article discusses how business and management can more usefully incorporate Machiavelli’s ideas by placing them within a tradition of discourse, along the lines of Lockyer’s historical method. We outline three potential discourses: those of humanism; of guides to leadership; and of power. In so doing the article suggests that historical texts (in particular Machiavelli) can prove useful to students and practitioners of business and management.
4. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 3
Mark W. Moss Practically Useless? Why Management Theory Needs Popper
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What would Karl Popper have made of today’s management and organisation theories? He would surely have approved of the openness of debate in some quarters, but the ease with which many managers accept the generalisations of some academics, gurus and consultants might well have troubled him. Popperhimself argued that processes of induction alone were unlikely to lead to developments in knowledge and considered processes of justification to be more important. He claimed that it was not through verifying theories from experiment that knowledge actually developed but through the invention of bold and innovative theories that experimenters then tried to falsify. If new theories did not agree with the results of experiment, then they were considered false. If they passed testing then they were considered unfalsified and worthy of further testing rather than true. Objective knowledge was to be obtained through ensuringcritical debate and learning, rather than adhering to some objective scientific method.In this paper, Popper’s notion of falsificationism is explored through stressing the importance of the predictive content and testability of theories. A number of theories from the fields of management and organisation theory are examined and it is argued that many of them suffer from one of three defects: fromover-reliance upon untestable elements with psychological origins; from being phrased in language so vague that they gloss over phenomena; or from making predictions that are so cautious and all-encompassing as to be practically useless. As a result, they are likely to be unfalsifiable in Popper’s terms and their epistemological status is called into question. While acknowledging that the unpredictability of social systems poses problems for an approach stressing predictability, I conclude by arguing that organisation theory and management knowledge might well benefit from the openness and critical nature of Popper’s approach.
5. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 3
René ten Bos, Ruud Kaulingfreks Organisational Writing and the Lust for Combination
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This is a book that we would enthusiastically recommend to those who unconditionally believe in the epistemologically or politically unproblematic character of organisational research. Carl Rhodes, once an employee of the Boston Consulting Group, now researcher at the University of Technology, Sydney, has written a small yet important book about academic writing on organisation. It has appeared in a small but interesting collection called Advances in Organization Studies that is edited by Stewart Clegg and Alfred Kieser and published by John Benjamins.Rhodes’ book resonates well with developed traditions in narrative and storytelling approaches to management and organisation studies. Such traditions have approached organisational knowledge from a narrative perspective and used narrative and literary methods to understand organisations. More specifically, Rhodes both draws on and contributes to an understanding of the relationship between narrative and power and to using multiple interpretations and representations in research.However, although we would argue that it is possible to identify Rhodes’ position in the field, ‘summing up’ in his own terms what he has to say is not easy. His central point seems to be that conclusively singular representations, perhaps including the one that we give here, are problematical from both an ethical and political perspective. One may be tempted to discard this as yet another postmodernist frivolity, but we would suggest that what writers and researchers in organisation studies, and the social sciences more generally, might get from this work is an increased sensitivity to the ethics of their writing practices.
6. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 3
Andrew Atherton Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say: Relating Cognition and Voice in Business
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This paper examines the dynamics of thought-language interactions within the organisational context of business. Based on an assessment of the cognition-voice debate within the cognitive sciences and related areas of philosophical enquiry, the paper proposes that thought and language are distinct systems. This notion of modularity is developed into a framework within which the two systems interact and, in doing so, influence and shape each other. These interactions form multiple thought and voiced drafts, reflecting the ‘multiple drafts’ model developed by Daniel Dennett to examine the phenomenon of consciousness. The drafting and re-drafting of thought and language are analysed via critical consideration of two transcripts of interviews with owner-managers. The overall theoretical approach suggests that the dynamics of voice-cognition drafting offer insights into: the development of expert cognitive frameworks;patterns in group development - in particular the emergence of shared values and concepts within the business; and processes of experiential learning within organizations.
7. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 3
John K. Alexander Pragmatic Decision Making: A Manager’s Epistemic Defence
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I was in manufacturing for over thirty years and a manager for nearly twenty-five. During that time it never occurred to me that the consequentialist, utilitarian framework I used was inadequate as a conceptual framework for making decisions to ensure organisational viability and success. The framework gave three criteria which enabled me to construct a rational approach to issues associated with my role as a manager:(i) to make product at the lowest possible cost so as to maximise the bottom line;(ii) to take into account the interests of everyone affected by my decisions equally; and(iii) not to cause unnecessary and avoidable harm to innocent people.To show that this framework is adequate as a basis for managerial decision making I want to spell out the logical implications of the three criteria and show that they are necessary and jointly sufficient to provide an epistemically sound framework for managerial decisions. I will argue that we can look to managerial practice for examples which can serve as paradigms for constructing a pragmatic approach to management decision making, one that - when employed correctly - will result in the best moral outcome for all those affected by a decision.This approach is derived from, and ultimately justified by, the primary role responsibility of a manager to create and implement a healthy work environment. This is one designed to be viable so that the organisation can compete successfully in the marketplace and meet the morally minimal standard that we ought not to cause unnecessary and avoidable harm to innocent people. Because the approach is goal directed, it is teleological and consequential in nature. I maintain that a workplace, or organisation, is healthy when all the components that constitute it are working coherently together to achieve legitimate organisational goals designed to ensure the best chances of being viable and competitive. Such an organisation is what I term optimally functional.
8. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Editorial: Developing Perspectives
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9. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Tom Campbell Should Managers Talk About Rights?
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Controversy surrounds the 'intrusion of the discourse of rights into workplace relationships. This is explored by examining the nature of rights through the analysis of the idea of a 'right to manage'. Purported justifications of the right to manage in terms of either property or contract are shown to be inadequate, thus illustrating the need to incorporate a degree of consequentialism in the articulation and justification of rights. The value of a rights-approach is argued to lie in the identification of the morally relevant interests ajfected by management decisions and the correlative obligations of those involved in the workplace, rather than in the introduction of a special set of moral considerations distinctively connected with the idea of rights.
10. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Jeremy Hall, Michael Martin Developing and Assessing New Technology: Popper, Monsanto and GMOs
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The UK launch of the Science Enterprise Challenge in 1999 has stimulated interest in the evolutions of science-based firms and this paper argues that Poppers seminal diverse contributions to philosophy are directly relevant to them. It begins by commenting on the applications of both Kuhns and Poppers concepts to technological (as against) scientific evolutions. It then suggests how Poppers approaches are applicable to the development and assessment of new technology within the framework of Freemans stakeholders approach. Monsanto s development of GMOs is used as an illustrative case.
11. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Christopher Cowton, Gerhard Zecha Doing it Right Instead of Twice: A Popperian Approach to Management Decisions
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Fundamental to Sir Karl Poppers oeuvre was the insight that humans err - and that we can learn from our mistakes. Critique is therefore valuable in all human endeavours. Although this stance is most famously seen in Poppers claim that to be scientific a theory or hypothesis has to be falsifiable. Popper adopted a critical approach extensively in his work towards whatever crossed his path. Yet he never developed or suggested a general method of criticism. In this paper we present and explain a method of criticism consistent with Poppers approach and applicable to every rationally accessible part of human life including management theory and practice.Managers of course already know the importance of learning from mistakes. But what we propose here in our Model of Rational Criticism places the emphasis on learning before we actually make the mistakes by seeking to eradicate errors of reasoning, thus reducing the chance of costly errors in implementation. Weconclude by exploring some of the implications of our model for managers.
12. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Domènec Melé, Josep Rosanas Power, Freedom and Authority in Management: Mary Parker Follett's 'Power-With'
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Power is one of the key ideas in management, and so is the concept of authority. However, most studies on power are rather instrumental, dealing with the place of power in management, and how to achieve it. Less attention has been paid to the essential concepts of power and authority themselves in managementthought and how they have evolved. To clarify these concepts, and to better understand the notions of power and authority in management and their proper use in organisations, this paper goes back to one of the pioneers in management thought: Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933). She had an original vision of power, holding that genuine power is not 'power-over, but 'power-with'. At the same time, she defended an authority based on function and responsibility. We explain what her account implies for management in theory and practice.
13. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Sheelagh O'Reilly Developing the Freedom to Disagree: A Manager's Philosophical Diary - Part 5
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This instalment is a reworking of the paper I gave at the meeting in Oxford in 2002 to a very small audience who I thank heartily for their patience and comments. I tried there to muse upon some ideas precipitated by reading two books by Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher whose work I find succeeds in being interesting and accessible without sacrificing technical content. I first came across his work whilst working on my PhD and was fascinated by his approach and learning — even when I did not understand or agree with him. In one paper he made a point that struck a very important chord with me in relation to questions of participation within development:Philosophers who talk about rights should pay much more attention than they do to the processes by which decisions are taken in a community under circumstances of disagreement. Theories of rights need to be complemented by theories of authority, whose function it is to determine how decisions are to be taken when the members of a community disagree about what decision is right.I would like to suggest that within the Development Industry it is not only philosophers who need to pay more attention to these issues, but also development professionals who work with issues of governance as well as participation at the grass roots. This is not an obvious linkage, I admit, but one which I hope thisdiary entry will make clear.I will try to show that acknowledging disagreement within the legislative and judicial fields might actually be a positive move. And, as Waldron also indicates, that there is something dynamic and positive about the participation of people in processes. I will examine some current thinking on participation in development projects and ask whether current practices may be hindering the 'freedom to disagree'. I conclude that the failure to address some aspects of development practice relating to power and the possibility of disagreement is an issue. I highlight some factors which inhibit participation and suggest they flow from failures to develop strategies that foster local participation in contexts where local people often lack the formal' knowledge they need if they are to negotiate successfully with what James C Scott has called 'institutional privilege.'
14. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
John Kaler What Is a Business?
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Understanding just what it is to he a business is a vital though neglected topic in business ethics. The account given here makes the possession of customers the defining feature. This excludes obvious non-businesses while allowing the widest possible range of options for deciding on the morally preferable form or forms which businesses should take.
reviews
15. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Paul Griseri Paul Griseri, Management Philosophy: A Radical-Normative Perspective
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16. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Leonard Minkes The Evolution of Modern Management by E. F. L. Brech
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17. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Emma Bell Learning from Saturn by Saul Rubinstein and Thomas A. Kochan
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18. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Editorial: Capable Management
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19. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Nelarine Cornelius, Nigel Laurie Capable Management: An Interview with Martha Nussbaum
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Martha Nussbaum is one of the most prolific and distinguished philosophers in the English-speaking world. Since 1995 she has been Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago appointed in the Law School, Philosophy Department and Divinity School. She is an Associate in the Classics Department and the Political Science Department, an Affiliate of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, a Board Member of the Human Rights Program and founder and Coordinator of a new Center for Comparative Constitutionalism. The Center aims to study the social forces that affect theimplementation of constitutional rights, especially for disadvantaged groups. She visits feminists in India each year to research the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the problems of poor women in different countries. In Delhi she has worked with the UN Development Programme on a project on gender and governance, and has also worked with The Lawyer’s Collective, an activist group in Delhi working on women’s rights.Born in 1947, she has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford Universities and from 1986 to 1993 was a research advisor at the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) in Helsinki, a part of the United Nations University. At WIDER she worked with Amartya Sen on defining ways of measuring the quality of life, a project which combined philosophy with development economics. She has chaired the Committee on International Cooperation and the Committee on the Status of Women of the American Philosophical Association, been a member of the Association’s National Board, and (in 2000) President ofits Central Division; she has also been a member of the Council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies. She received the Brandeis Creative Arts Award in Non-Fiction for 1990, and the PEN Spielvogel-Diamondstein Award for the best collection of essays in 1991. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education (1997) won the Ness Book Award of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 1998 and the Grawemeyer Prize for Education in 2002, and Sex and Social Justice (1998) won the book award of the North American Society for Social Philosophy in 2000. Her other books are: Aristotle’s De Motu Animalium (1978), The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (1986), Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (1990), The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics (1994), Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination in Public Life (1996), For Love of Country (1996), Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (2000) and Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (2001). Among her ten edited volumes are The Quality of Life (with Amartya Sen) 1993; Women, Culture, and Development (with Jonathan Glover) 1995; Sex, Preference, and Family (with David Estlund) 1997, and Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in American Religious Traditions (with Saul Olyan) 1998. A dialogue called Emotions as Judgments of Value was staged as a play in Stockholm in 1999 and she has a contract to write a book on the genre of the philosophical dialogue for Harvard University Press.Her current work in progress includes Hiding From Humanity: Disgust and Shame in the Law (the Remarque Lectures delivered at New York University in 2001) and The Cosmopolitan Tradition (the Castle Lectures delivered at Yale University in 2000). In 2002 she delivered the Tanner Lectures at Australian National University in Canberra, under the title Beyond the Social Contract: Toward Global Justice; she also gave Tanner lectures on the same theme in Cambridge, England, in March, 2003. She has received numerous honorary degrees and is an Academician in the Academy of Finland.
20. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Robin Attfield Global Warming, Justice and Future Generations
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The phenomenon of global warming, the anthropogenic theory of its genesis and some of the implications of that theory are introduced as a case-study of a global environmental problem involving issues of equity between peoples, generations and species. In particular, recognition of the view that the absorptive capacities of the atmosphere comprise an instance of the Common Heritage of Humankind would have a key bearing on negotiations downstream from the Kyoto Protocol, suggesting the proportioning of emission quotas to population, and also limits to the inter-state trading of quotas. This view and these possible implications are discussed; international regimes with such a basis are argued to have a firmer foundation than ones based on historical emission levels (such as the Kyoto agreement), and to escape the charge of anthropocentrism to which stress on the Common Heritage of Humankind appears to expose them. The anthropogenic theory might be held, instead, to favour tying emissions quotas to aggregate historical emissions of the last two centuries. But intergenerational equity requires a sustainable international regime, based on universal principles rather than history.