What role can virtue play in leadership and business? Read on to find out more.
Authenticating the leader: Why Bill George believes that a moral compass would have kept Jeffrey Skilling out of jail
In the wake of a series of corporate scandals, there has been a growing call for authentic leadership in order to ensure ethical conduct in contemporary organizations. Authentic leadership, however, depends upon the ability to draw a distinction between the authentic and inauthentic leader.
This paper uses Deleuze’s discussion of Platonism as a point of departure for critically scrutinizing the problem of authenticating the leader—drawing a distinction between authentic and inauthentic leaders. This will be done through a reading of Bill George’s book Authentic Leadership. Informed by Deleuze’s inverted Platonism, the paper challenges the practice by which authentic leaders are distinguished from inauthentic leaders.
In conclusion, the paper suggests that an adequate concept of authentic leadership should consider how ethics can occur when the authentic leader is able to critically reflect his or her own value-commitments.
Christian Garmann Johnsen. 2018. Authenticating the Leader: Why Bill George Believes that a Moral Compass Would Have Kept Jeffrey Skilling out of Jail.
Journal of Business Ethics, 147(1), 53–63.
Measuring individuals’ virtues in business
This paper argues that Shanahan and Hyman’s (J Bus Eth 42:197–208, 2003) Virtue Ethics Scale (VES) should be abandoned and that work should begin to develop better-grounded measures for identifying individual business virtue (IBV) in context.
It comes to this conclusion despite the VES being the only existing measure of individuals’ virtues that focuses on business people in general, rather than those who hold specific leadership or audit roles. The paper presents a study that, in attempting to validate the VES, raises significant concerns about its construction.
In particular, investigation of the VES items leads to adjustments in the language used and examines participants’ understanding of the virtue terms and their descriptors. Confirmatory factor analysis of data collected from a sample of 137 HR practitioners establishes that the 6-factor solution identified by Shanahan and Hyman is not appropriate for the sample under examination. Rather, exploratory factor analysis results in three dimensions based in 13 items focusing on the individuals’ reliability, resourcefulness, and leadership.
Finally, multiple regression establishes that these dimensions do not on the whole show associations with MA or PRESOR, two measures through which it would be expected to establish convergent and divergent validity. The paper concludes by suggesting guidelines for the development of future measures of IBV.
David Dawson. 2018. Measuring Individuals’ Virtues in Business.
Journal of Business Ethics, 147(4), 793–805.
Leadership after virtue: MacIntyre’s critique of management reconsidered
MacIntyre argues that management embodies emotivism, and thus is inherently amoral and manipulative. His claim that management is necessarily Weberian is, at best, outdated, and the notion that management aims to be neutral and value free is incorrect.
However, new forms of management, and in particular the increased emphasis on leadership which emerged after MacIntyre’s critique was published, tend to support his central charge. Indeed, charismatic and transformational forms of leadership seem to embody emotivism to a greater degree than do more Weberian, bureaucratic forms of management; hence, MacIntyre’s central contention about our emotivistic culture seems to be well founded.
Having criticised the details but defended the essence of MacIntyre’s critique of management, this paper sketches a MacIntyrean approach to management and leadership by highlighting the affinities between MacIntyre’s political philosophy and Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership.
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Matthew Sinnicks. 2018. Leadership After Virtue: MacIntyre’s Critique of Management Reconsidered.
Journal of Business Ethics, 147(4), 735–746.
After Virtue and accounting ethics
Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue presented a reinterpretation of Aristotelian virtue ethics that is contrasted with the emotivism of modern moral discourse, and provides a moral scheme that can enable a rediscovery and reimagination of a more coherent morality.
Since After Virtue’s (AV’s) publication, this scheme has been applied to a variety of activities and occupations, and has been influential in the development of research in accounting ethics. Through a ‘close’ reading of Chaps. 14 and 15 of AV, this paper considers and applies the key concepts of practices, institutions, internal and external goods, the narrative unity of a human life and tradition, and the virtues associated with these concepts.
It contributes, firstly, by providing a more accurate and comprehensive application of MacIntyre’s scheme to accounting than that available in the existing literature.
Secondly, it identifies areas in which MacIntyre’s scheme supports the existing approach to professional accounting ethics as articulated by the various International Federation of Accountants pronouncements as well as areas in which it provides a critique and challenge to this approach.
The application ultimately provides an alternative philosophical perspective through which accounting can be examined and further research into accounting ethics pursued.
Andrew West. 2018. After Virtue and Accounting Ethics.
Journal of Business Ethics, 148(1), 21–36.
Virtuousness and the common good as a conceptual framework for harmonizing the goals of the individual, organisations, and the economy
Despite the expansion of the regulatory state, the authors continue to witness widespread unethical practices across society.
This paper addresses these challenges of ethical failure, misalignment, and dissonance by developing a conceptual framework that provides an explicit basis for understanding virtuousness and the common good directed toward the goal of eudaimonia or human flourishing. While much of the literature on virtuousness has focused on the organization, this paper uses a more comprehensive understanding that also incorporates the agent and the economy examined through their relational order.
The common good provides direction for guiding behaviour of all the various stakeholders and the context for understanding virtuousness, while it is through virtuousness that the common good is effectively realized. Virtuousness and the common good are therefore in effect ‘two sides of the same coin.’
This paper develops a virtuousness–common good conceptual framework which explores the basis for harmonizing the goals of the individual, organization, and the economy.
Surendra Arjoon, Alvaro Turriago-Hoyos and Ulf Thoene. 2018. Virtuousness and the Common Good as a Conceptual Framework for Harmonizing the Goals of the Individual, Organizations, and the Economy.
Journal of Business Ethics, 147(1), 143–163.
Does virtue belong in management research?
Most management researchers pause at the threshold of objective right and wrong. Their hesitation is understandable. Values imply a “subjective,” personal dimension, one that can invite religious and moral interference in research. The dominant epistemological camps of positivism and subjectivism in management stumble over the notion of moral objectivity.
Empirical research can study values in human behaviour, but hard-headed scientists should not assume that one value can be objectively better than another. In this article, the authors invite management researchers to rethink this presumption.
The authors show how accepting at least a limited form of moral objectivity, namely, an epistemic orientation that seeks objective moral reasons, can benefit management research by 1. guiding research practice; 2. using patterns of moral objectivity as clues for formulating empirical hypotheses for psychological explanations; and 3. adding prescriptive power to empirical theories.
Tae Wan Kim and Thomas Donaldson. 2018. Rethinking Right: Moral Epistemology in Management Research.
Journal of Business Ethics, 148(1), 5-20.