A selection of interesting articles we found recently considering whether virtue in management matters.
Humility in management
Although virtues have gained a firm presence in the theory and practice of corporate management, humility is not ranked as one the chief virtues in the business world. In spite of this, it is an important virtue, contributing to the manager’s moral and professional quality and the development of the company’s human team.
This paper explains the basic traits of humility in general and how they manifest in the manager’s life and profession, and shows, within the ethics of virtues, that it is not just a personal desideratum but a fundamental quality of a good manager and good management. In this paper, Antonio Argandona explains what a humble person is, how the qualities of humility manifest in the manager and what consequences this may have for management theory. An excellent manager can and must be an ethical and, therefore, a humble manager.
More details are available at: Antonio Argandona. 2015. Humility in Management.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(1), 63-71.
Developing sustainable management theory: goal-setting theory based in virtue
This paper responds to ongoing calls to develop alternative management theory to guide management practice. In particular, the purpose of the paper is to demonstrate the merit of developing sustainable management theory and organizational practices that parallel conventional management theory and practices.
Sustainable theory is based on a variation of virtue theory that seeks to achieve multiple forms of well-being for multiple stakeholders in the immediate as well as distant future. To illustrate the approach, the authors develop a sustainable variation of goal setting theory.
The paper includes three parts. First, the authors establish the need for developing sustainable management theory (based on virtue theory) that parallels conventional management theory.
Second, the authors identify and briefly review the main tenets of goal setting theory and then describe a Sustainable variation of this theory.
Finally, the authors discuss the implications of the paper for management and organization theory and practice. The conceptual arguments for a sustainable version of goal setting theory based in virtue are supported by research and practitioner examples. Although there is growing concern regarding the shortcomings of management theory and practice based on a materialist-individualist moral-point-of-view, few alternatives have been discussed in detail. This paper presents an alternative based in virtue theory and illustrates how it relates to goal setting theory and practice.
For more details see: Mitchell J. Neubert & Bruno Dyck. 2016. Developing sustainable management theory: goal-setting theory based in virtue.
Management Decision, 54(2), 304–320.
Virtue: Missing from emotional intelligence
The Emotional Competency Inventory (ECI) framework of Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis has gained significant impact in business leadership and management development. This paper considers the composition of the various versions of the ECI and its successor the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory to determine the nature of any appeal to ethics or moral competence within these frameworks. A series of concerns regarding the ethical limitations of the frameworks are presented with arguments supported by the relevant literature across the Emotional Intelligence (EI), competency theory and ethics fields.
Based on a review of the ECI competencies in terms of their definitional constructs, it appears possible for an unethical manager or leader to demonstrate EI competence. Several cases involving high-profile business leaders, who were once lauded but later found to have acted unethically, are analysed. The authors consider the capacity of unethical leaders and managers to fulfil EI competence an issue of concern. The inclusion of an ethical management cluster and a number of competencies based on virtue ethics is proposed to meet this concern. Such an inclusion would address the critical issue of the purpose to which an EI competence is applied. Argument supporting the value of a virtue ethics approach as opposed to utilitarian or duty-based ethics approaches is also presented. Finally, a proposed exemplar of an ethically informed ECI framework is included for consideration.
Read more at: Segon, Michael & Booth, Chris. 2015. Virtue: The Missing Ethics Element in Emotional Intelligence.
Journal of Business Ethics, 128(4), 789-802.
Framework for virtue in contemporary organisations
The purpose of this paper is to provide a functional framework encapsulating a wide range of contributions to the ongoing debate on virtue as a critical dimension of contemporary organisations. In so doing, the authors elaborate and develop an encompassing framework that is in a position to capture the diversity of research in this very field.
Extant literature on virtue in organisational settings is properly categorized through a taxonomy articulated around the potential foci, as well as loci of virtuous behaviour. Virtuousness denotes an ethical attribute of managers, leaders or employees and as such, it may be situated at the micro-individual, meso-organisational or macro-societal level, respectively. The paper differentiates between virtuous managerial, leaders’ and employees’ attitudes on one hand, and virtuous management and leadership development, as well as virtuous employee training on the other.
Furthermore, ethically grounded managerial initiatives and leaders’responsibilities to further the common good are entwined with endeavours to transform employees into virtuous corporate citizens affirming organisational ethicality. The paper introduces a framework that can help integrate varying trends on organisational virtuousness that substantially differ in terms of both scope and perspective. In addition, the taxonomy will facilitate both researchers and practitioners to better navigate into the dispersed, and ultimately fragmented streams of literature on the role of virtue in business environments.
See more details at: George Gotsis & Katerina Grimani. 2015. Virtue theory and organizational behavior: an integrative framework.
Journal of Management Development, 34(10),1288– 1309.
CEO humility and enhanced firm outcomes
Amy Ou and her colleagues propose a mediation model to explain the relationship between CEO humility and firm performance. Building on upper echelons, power, and paradox theories, the team hypothesises that when a more humble CEO leads a firm, its top management team (TMT) is more likely to collaborate, share information, jointly make decisions, and possess a shared vision. The firm will also tend to have lower pay disparity between the CEO and the TMT. The humble CEO and TMT, in turn, will be more likely to adopt an ambidextrous strategic orientation, which will be associated with stronger firm performance.
The authors tested the model by using both survey and archival data that were collected at multiple time points from 105 small-to-medium-sized firms in the computer software and hardware industry in the United States. Findings largely support their theoretical assertions, suggesting that CEO humility has important implications for firm processes and outcomes.
More information is available at: Amy Y. Ou, David A. Waldman & Suzanne J. Peterson. 2015. Do Humble CEOs Matter? An Examination of CEO Humility and Firm Outcomes.
Journal of Management September 21,#0149206315604187