Volume 10, Issue 2, 2011
Foundations and Processes
Jim Platts, Howard Harris
The Place of Philosophy in Management
Our purpose is not to define a particular philosophy of management but rather to demonstrate some of the ways in which philosophy – ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, logic and æsthetics – contributes to the practice of management. We identify a number of contemporary management questions, procedures or issues where the application of philosophical approaches is relevant and show how philosophical skills, an understanding of philosophical principles or exposure to philosophical discussion can contribute to improved management practice.
In some ways the paper is a report on progress in the quest begun by Nigel Laurie and Christopher Cherry in the first issue of Philosophy of Management, then entitled Reason in Practice (2001), when they asked why philosophers have interested themselves so little in the entire field of management. We include some examples where philosophers have written about management, some where managers have shown the direct impact of philosophy on management effectiveness and somewhere potential remains. In much, we see links to process philosophy and to the need for conversation and reflection by and between managers and philosophers.
This does not of itself show how philosophy can contribute to management education. A brief final section discusses the way in which moral creativity skills can be developed through reflection and describes how this has been done in the Manufacturing Leaders’ Programme at the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge and in the International Management Ethics & Values course taught to undergraduate management students in Adelaide, Singapore and Hong Kong. This will be taken up in a subsequent paper.