For many decades, management theorists and practitioners have been struggling to develop a novel “theory of work” that would help organisations to become at the same time more humane, socially responsible and productive. In spite of much rhetoric, agile methodologies and multiple waves of business transformations, it appears so far little has been achieved. Most recent studies demonstrate that the impact of work on both physical and mental health has been progressively deteriorating in most of the western world. In this article we argue that a more fundamental change in how we think about work and how we design organisations is necessary. In this article, written for a popular magazine, we build on neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and suggest that a shift towards “eudaimocracy” might help to craft organisations that foster “organisational aliveness” and contribute positively to society. Drawing upon moral philosophy, sociology, complexity science and positive psychology we start to develop a set of principles and practices that could pragmatically bridge business ethics and management. In this context, we especially highlight the need to revise institutional governance, establish virtuous communities and develop practical wisdom and agency across the organisation. Using the concrete example of traditional HR processes, we examine how a novel approach could help to foster individual and collective flourishing and more radically address some of the shortfall of previous approaches.
Note: We share this article here to stimulate a discussion with the research community as this is part of a larger book project – for more information see www.goodorganisations.org
Keywords: business ethics, virtue ethics, organisational development, leadership development, business transformation, management, HR, performance management, New Work, Agile, positive psychology
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