A selection of interesting articles we found recently on the role of virtues in management.
Is humility needed 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.
For full details, see: Antonio Argandona. 2015. Humility in Management.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(1), 63-71.
Making the case for business ethics – again!
In this paper, Gregory Wolcott argues for the ethics of business based on the way that business activity may embody a vocation to partake in “the Good.” Following a Platonist framework for ethics and recent work on vocations by Robert M. Adams, he argues that understanding the ethics of vocations allows us to avoid the charges that business persons have to do something more for others—often couched in terms of social responsibility, sustainability, or consideration of stakeholders—in order to legitimise their careers ethically. Rather, he claims, the ethics of a business vocation, as in any vocation, rests first and foremost in the way that a person pursues projects that answer an invitation to partake in the good things of this world.
Thus, the promotion of the well-being of others, while ethically admirable and constitutive of some vocations, is not fundamental for understanding the ethics of vocations themselves, even in business. There are important implications for the ethics of markets, and Wolcott also considers a recent challenge to his approach that claims that true business vocations demand a more direct promotion of the well-being of others.
Read more at: Gregory Wolcott. 2015. The New (Old) Case for the Ethics of Business.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(1), 127-146.
MacIntyrean virtue ethics across cultures in business
This paper seeks to establish whether the categories of MacIntyrean virtue ethics as applied to business organisations are meaningful in a non-western business context. It does so by building on research reported in Moore (Organ Stud, 33(3): 363–387, 2012) in which the application of virtue ethics to business organisations was investigated empirically in the UK, based on a conceptual framework drawn from MacIntyre’s work (After Virtue 2007).
Comparing these results with an equivalent study in Sri Lanka, the paper finds that the categories are meaningful but that there are both similarities to and considerable differences in the content of these categories from the UK study. The paper draws on aspects of institutional theory to explore and explain these findings. Overall, there is supportive evidence that the categories of MacIntyrean virtue ethics are generalisable, and so can be used to characterise problems of organisational virtue and vice around the world, while providing evidence that there may be polities which are more conducive to the ‘practice-like conduct of production’ (Keat, Philos Manag, 7(1): 77–91, 2008).
Read further at: Mario Fernando & Geoff Moore. 2015. MacIntyrean Virtue Ethics in Business: A Cross-Cultural Comparison.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(1), 185-202.
Socio-moral climate in organisations
During the last decade, an increasing amount of research has focused on the ethical context in organisations. Among the recent approaches in this area is the construct of socio-moral climate (SMC), which adopts a developmental perspective and refers to specific elements of organisational climate that include communication, cooperation, and how organisations handle conflict. In this article, the authors present the results of three empirical studies, shedding light on the nomological network of SMC. Whereas the first study introduces a short SMC measure, the other two studies examined antecedents and outcomes of SMC as well as related mediating mechanisms.
Confirmatory factor analysis revealed good fit indices of the 21-item measure of SMC with five subscales. Structural equation modeling confirmed a strong relationship with servant leadership as antecedent to SMC. In turn, employees who perceived a positive SMC were less likely to experience feelings of organisational cynicism and to engage in deviant behaviours. Results indicate that SMC accounted for additional variance above and beyond perceived overall justice.
The full paper is at: Armin Pircher Verdorfer, Brigitte Steinheider & David Burkus. 2015. Exploring the Socio-moral Climate in Organizations: An Empirical Examination of Determinants, Consequences, and Mediating Mechanisms.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(1), 233-248.
How have key organisational decision makers’ values changed across generations?
This research investigates managerial value orientations (MVO) using the Rokeach Value Survey to assess the importance managers assign to various values. While prior work and select organisational theory posit that MVO will not change over time, the data are analysed to determine if the MVO of mid- to upper-level managers, the key decision-makers in most organisations, has remained generally the same or has changed from one generation to another.
The results show that the MVO of managers from 1990 is significantly different than the MVO of managers today. The greatest difference lies in the MVO area of competence versus moral values, with more managers emphasizing a moral value orientation than previously. Therefore, the data indicate there is a noticeable shift in MVO over the past 20+ years (late 1980s to early 2010s). The implications of the results reported are discussed, along with suggestions for future managerial values research.
For details see: James Weber. 2015. Identifying and Assessing Managerial Value Orientations: A Cross-Generational Replication Study of Key Organizational Decision-Makers’ Values.
Journal of Business Ethics, 132(3), 493-504.