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Calls for Papers

Practical Wisdom and Management

Published on

Business Ethics: A European Review
Special Issue Call for Papers
Guest Editors: Edwin Hartman, Alejo J. Sison, André Habisch, Matthias P. Hühn

Practical Wisdom and Management

Practical wisdom (phronesis) is an approach to human decision-making developed by Aristotle, and that was favoured until the Enlightenment replaced it with a rule-based logic. Phronesis is tied to the individual and his or her character, and takes a long-term view of decision-making, while the Enlightenment project tries to replace character with rules or algorithms that apply to all individuals in specific situations.  In the 19th century, economics and later management followed the Enlightenment logic, with the result that depersonalised theory largely has replaced character in management thinking. Management theory has been criticised for this by some of its most important contributors. For example, Warren Bennis and James O’Toole (2005) criticised business schools for having abandoned practice for the sake of journal article production as an end in itself; Sumantra Ghoshal (2005) called management theories evil; the then dean of the Rotman School, Roger Martin (with Moldoveanu 2008), said that MBA students are trained not to have questions but to unthinkingly apply tools they do not understand; while the current dean of the Harvard Business School wants to establish management as a profession, i.e., as having a moral code. Meanwhile, theorists like Henry Mintzberg and the late Peter Drucker have been saying similar things for over 50 years. Virtue ethics is able to address a number of issues in management, among them the depersonalisation and de-individualisation of the subject of research, short-termism, positivism, excessive theorising to the detriment of practice and the role of values in management research and practice.  Read More