The Relation Between Morality and Organization: Where To Start?

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Masoud Shadnam of Rouen Business School in France, whose paper “Heterologous and Homologous Perspectives on the Relation Between Morality and Organization: Illustration of Implications for Studying the Rise of Private Military and Security Industry” is forthcoming in the Journal of Management Inquiry and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

Suppose you are an alien who has recently arrived on the Earth with a mission to explore the organizational life of human beings. Disguised in a human surrogate, you start interacting with people in organizations and getting to know the regularities of organizational life. Soon you realize that organizational order is coupled with another salient force that plays an important role in ordering human affairs in organizations, and that is moral order. You are not sure about the nature or origin of moral or organizational orders, but it seems evident to you that there is a relation between the two. Now you ask yourself: Are these orders distinct and independent from each other? Or they are somehow interdependent in their constitution?

JMI_72ppiRGB_150pixwThis article shows that the alien’s query highlights two different theoretical perspectives that exist about the relation between morality and organization: “A heterologous perspective that views morality and organization as two fundamentally different and independent phenomena, and a homologous perspective that views them as two interdependent variations or aspects of a single phenomenon”. The article discusses the implications of taking each perspective for organizational studies of moral phenomena, and shows how the choice of theoretical perspective leads to starkly different conclusions about a single phenomenon. For the purpose of illustration, the author offers two different examinations of the recent rise of private military and security industry.

Read the paper, “Heterologous and Homologous Perspectives on the Relation Between Morality and Organization: Illustration of Implications for Studying the Rise of Private Military and Security Industry,” online in the Journal of Management Inquiry.

Masoud Shadnam is an assistant professor of management and strategy at Rouen Business School in France. He received his PhD in management and organization studies from Simon Fraser University. His research examines moral and cultural aspects of organizational settings from a descriptive perspective drawing primarily on insights from the disciplines of sociology and social philosophy. He is presently working on exploring the dynamics and politics of moral discourse in large organizations.

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