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21. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Ashly Pinnington Charles Handy: The Exemplary Guru
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Among many managers Charles Handy might well be described as a ‘world class’ management thinker. He is certainly the first British management author to have achieved international guru status. The author of widely-commended management best-sellers and MBA set texts, known through broadcasting andmanagement videos, he has presented himself more recently as a self-styled ‘social philosopher’. But just how philosophical is he? Does he offer genuinely new ideas? And what explains his vast appeal? Ashly Pinnington considers three works from Handy’s social philosopher period. He argues that they are conservative and focused on the interests of managers and business owners rather than employees or society as a whole. Like a mediaeval friar seeking converts, Handy uses mythic structures and exempla to invest his claims and propositions with plausibility and authority. Drawing on research into management gurus as a phenomenon, Ashly Pinnington concludes that when we read authors like Handy we should attend not merely to the ‘philosophy’ but also to the way narrative techniques are used in conveying ideological and moral messages.
22. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Ruth Abbey The Articulated Life: An Interview with Charles Taylor
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Charles Taylor is one of the most prolific and wide-ranging philosophers in the English-speaking world today. He writes with authority in the fields of moral theory, political philosophy, theories of language, the history of western thought, epistemology and hermeneutics. Currently an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at McGill University, he has enjoyed a distinguished academic career which includes being Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University. He has also been active and influential in the politics of his native Quebec, arguing passionately for recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, but against the province’s secession from Canada. For many years he has been a member of the New Democratic Party. The American philosopher Richard Rorty described him as ‘among the dozen most important philosophers writing today’ and one of North America’s ‘most thoughtful politicians’. He is interviewed here by Ruth Abbey.
23. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
James McCalman But I Did It for the Company! The Ethics of Organisational Politics
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Organisational politics traditionally gets a ‘bad press’. It has generally been under-researched mainly because of concerns about image. Managers dislike discussing subjects such as organisational politicking, believing that it reflects badly on themselves as managers and on their organisation and they cling to apurely rationalist model of decision-making. Sometimes, even the presence of politics is denied. But, as this paper argues, while some managers may claim to have no taste for politics they readily engage in it and justify it. The processes of managing organisational change more often than not result in conflict andresistance, requiring political engagement in response. This paper analyses political activities in the context of change, using an ethical decision-tree to examine practical cases. It presents them in the managers’ own terms and assesses them against three criteria: utility, rights and justice. The findings raise questions about how managers themselves construe ethical behaviour and about the adequacy of the criteria they use. There is room for further research in this area and analysis of the ethical frameworks used to evaluate what managers do.
24. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Christian Gärtner Wisdom in the Flesh: Embodied Social Practices of Wisdom in Organisations
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The majority of contemporary models of wisdom define it in terms of a cognitive ability that is located in an agent’s mind. Even those models that include emotions, affective states, gut feelings etc. hardly recognise the relation between those non-cognitive dimensions, agents’ bodies and how they shape the content of experiences and how social practices of wisdom enfold. This paper will address this gap by providing a phenomenological account that depicts wisdom not as generated by wise individuals but as being produced by and within embodied practices of agents relating to other people, artefacts, concepts, and ways of using others and things. It is argued that management should aim at building facilitative contexts that afford people to make use of and exploit the embodied dimension of wise practices. Exemplary strategies and tools that establish such sites, where embodied social practices of wisdom happen, are described.
25. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Carolyn Dickie Coordinating Knowledge Hierarchies in Management: Re-conceptualising Organisational Wisdom
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This theoretical paper addresses issues associated with the hierarchical concept of the “pyramid of wisdom” to suggest that progressive organisations can implement management systems that capture and apply personal and organisational talents at various levels. A phenomenological hermeneutic approach is used to re-conceptualise components of practical wisdom in organisations. After briefly examining what constitutes Western and Eastern wisdom traditions,the paper provides various hierarchies associated with a postulated model of the pyramid of wisdom. It is argued that understanding how wisdom develops in an organisation can lead to new approaches to strategic reflection, to alternative notions of leadership, and to more holistic and democratic ways of expressing authority. Without understanding of, and practice within, the pyramid of wisdom, the personal and organisational roads to success are likely to be bleak, illusions overpowering, and accomplishments short-lived.
26. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Yunxia Zhu Practical Confucian Wisdom and Entrepreneurship Development and Training
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This paper proposes a Confucian wisdom perspective to study entrepreneurship practice in the Chinese transition economy. It argues that existing research on Chinese entrepreneurship has not paid adequate attention to qing (positive affects), which is an integral part of Confucian wisdom. It is essential to investigate qing and its interaction with li (reason relating to rules and regulations) and cognitive processes within the institutional context of the transition economy. To address this issue, this paper integrates traditional practical Confucian wisdom and Western institution theory to develop a theoretical framework for understanding practically wise entrepreneurship in China. The model is applied to the analysis of interview results with Chinese entrepreneurs, who indicated that they applied Confucian wisdom in starting up and developing their businesses. This finding has theoretical and practical implications for entrepreneurshipdevelopment and training.
27. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Michael W. Small Wisdom, Management and Moral Duty: A Greco-Roman Perspective
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This paper applies Greco-Roman thinking about wisdom to contemporary business and management practice. The first section outlines the contexts in which Greek and Roman writers referred to wisdom and related terms. Hesiod, Aeschylus, Pericles, Demosthenes, Plato and Aristotle were concerned with sophia and phronésis. Cicero, Horace and Seneca referred to prudentia and sapientia. The second section consists of examples from contemporary business and management behaviour which ranged from the “cunning/clever to the intelligently wise”. Reference is made to current research highlighting concepts such as commonsense wisdom, conventional wisdom, contrarian wisdom and experienced based wisdom.
28. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Gabriel Flynn, Julian Clarke Leadership and Integrity: Crisis and Challenge for the Global Economy
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This paper formulates a vision for leadership based on integrity in business, banking, government and politics. It proposes a tripartite response to the current grave difficulties affecting international finance and markets: a renewal of values and virtues, acceptance of the centrality of the human person, and appropriate recourse to key principles of Catholic social teaching, as articulated in Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. By considering Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” period, particularly the actions of the Anglo Irish Bank, we show how failures in leadership and integrity at all levels of Irish society, including business, politics, government, public sector and church, have eroded trust and damaged the reputation of key institutions. The paper presents plain suggestions for civic leaders on how putting people first can help restore trust, reputation, integrity and professionalism at local and global levels.
29. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Grace Teo-Dixon, Janet Sayers Wisdom as Knowledge Management’s Perfect Solution: a Word of Caution
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The management of “wisdom” has been mooted in knowledge management (KM) theory mostly in relation to what is known as the “knowledge hierarchy”. We argue that there are unquestioned assumptions inherent in KM leading to wisdom being included in KM theory because of rhetorical “urges” more than theoretical ones. These rhetorical urges impel a drive towards perfection that excludes more than is included. Our interrogation of the KM literature uncoverssome of the questionable implications in understanding knowledge as a resource and an asset and of understanding wisdom as a pinnacle to a knowledge hierarchy. We urge caution regarding theorising of wisdom at the top of a hierarchy, as it should not be mooted as a perfect final solution to Knowledge Management. We suggest the theorising of wisdom be opened out to its fullest “poetic possibilities”, and that attempts to close off its meaning be resisted.
30. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Bradley Rolfe, Steven Segal Opening the Space of the Project Manager: A Phenomenological Approach
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Edmund Husserl maintains that phenomenological thinking does not begin with the theoretical roof but with the foundations of immediate and concrete experience. Martin Heidegger claims that to begin with immediate experience is to think in moments of disruption or disturbance of the everyday. Using these positions as a starting point, this paper argues for a phenomenological approach to project management that explores the immediate and concrete experienceof project managers. In doing so it attempts to address an over-emphasis on the universalised and abstracted modes of theorising that currently dominate project management practice. Eugene Gendlin’s psycho-therapeutic technique of “focusing” provides a practical example of the phenomenological approach in action through a critical dialogue between researcher and practitioner, the co-authors of this paper. This paper argues that the insight derived from such an approach can do far more for a project manager in terms of their relationship to their work, the meaning they derive from it, and their effectiveness in the role, than a dedicated adherence to the strictures of traditional project management practice.