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Philosophy of Management

Volume 10, Issue 3, 2011

The Philosophers Stone - About Knowledge and Leadership

David Ardagh
Pages 41-58

A Quasi-Personal Alternative to Some Anglo-American Pluralist Models of Organisations
Towards an Analysis of Corporate Self-Governance for Virtuous Organisations

An organisation which operates without a ‘self-concept’ of its goals, authorised roles, governance procedures regarding sharing information, decisional powers and procedures, and distribution of benefits, or without continuous audit of its impact on its end-users, other players in the practice, and the state, does so at some ethical risk. This paper argues that a quasi-personal model of the collective ethical agency of organisations and states is helpful in suggesting some of these key areas which are liable to need careful organisational design and control by leadership groups if the organisation as a whole entity (directors, operators, enablers) steered by the board/CEO as ‘mind/will,’ is to identify its stakeholders – internal and external – and treat them well. Such a quasi-personal model is outlined (QPM) in which six suggested areas should be covered by the leadership group in ethical governance: goals, roles, decision procedures, execution/verification, relations with endusers and other players in the practice, and relations with the community and the state. The ethical conception presupposed is Neo-Aristotelian Virtue Ethics (NAVE). In subsequent papers the many advantages of QPM/NAVE which will be claimed are these: it comes with an analysis of justice which straddles individuals, families, communities, markets, and states; it offers a more coherent normative account of ‘stakeholder’ and the internal /external stakeholder distinction, by differentiating their descriptive, ethical, and causal relations to the firm as collective agent; and it suggests that business practice and business corporations are partly creatures of the state, and merely one kind of evolving and changeable institution, in a practice with a specific socio-political permit, (not the source of ethics, politics, and social policy).

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