Skip to main content Accessibility help

Re-Imagining the Morality of Management: A Modern Virtue Ethics Approach

  • Geoff Moore


In this paper the problematic nature of the morality of management, in particular related to business organisations operating under Anglo-American capitalism, is explored. MacIntyre’s critique of managers in After Virtue (1985) serves as the starting point but this critique is itself subjected to analysis leading to a more balanced and contemporary view of the morality of management than MacIntyre provides. Paradoxically perhaps, MacIntyre’s own virtues-goods-practice-institution schema is shown to provide a way of re-imagining business organisations and management and thereby holds out the possibility of resolving the issue of the morality of management within such organisations. Implications for management practice are drawn out.



Hide All
Akaah, I., and Riordan, E. 1989. “Judgments of Professionals about Ethical Issues in Marketing Research: A Replication and Extension,” Journal of Marketing Research 26(1): 112–20.
Anthony, P. 1986. The Foundation of Management. London: Tavistock Publications.
Arendt, H. 1963. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. London: Faber & Faber.
Bauman, Z. 1993. Postmodern Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Baumhart, R. 1961. “Problems in Review: How Ethical Are Businessmen?Harvard Business Review 39(4): 69.
Beadle, R. 2002. “The Misappropriation of MacIntyre,” Reason in Practice 2(2): 4554. (The journal has been subsequently renamed Philosophy of Management.)
Beadle, R. and Moore, G. 2006. “MacIntyre on Virtue and Organization,” Organization Studies 27(3): 323–40.
Bird, F. and Waters, J. 1989. “The Moral Muteness of Managers,” California Management Review 32(1) (Fall): 7388.
Brenner, S. and Molander, E. 1977. “Is the Ethics of Business Changing?Harvard Business Review 55(1): 5771.
Brewer, K. B. 1997. “Management as a Practice: A Response to Alasdair MacIntyre,” Journal of Business Ethics 16(8): 825–33.
Carroll, A. 1987. “In Search of the Moral Manager.” Business Horizons (March–April): 715.
Carroll, A.. 2000. “Ethical Challenges for Business in the New Millennium: Corporate Social Responsibility and Models of Management Morality,” Business Ethics Quarterly 10(1): 3342.
Clegg, S. and Rhodes, C. 2006. Management Ethics. Abingdon: Routledge.
Courpasson, D. and Reed, M. 2004. “Introduction: Bureaucracy in the Age of Enterprise,” Organization 11(1): 512.
Deet, Z. S. 1995. “Character, Corporate Responsibility and the Dialogic in the Postmodern Context: A Commentary on Mangham,” Organization 2(2): 217–25.
DiMaggio, P. and Powell, W. 1983. “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields,” American Sociological Review 48(2): 147–60.
Donaldson, T. and Preston, L. 1995. “The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications,” Academy of Management Review 20(1): 6591.
du Gay, P. 1998. “Alasdair MacIntyre and the Christian Genealogy of Management Critique,” Cultural Values 2(4): 421–44.
du Gay, P.. 2000. In Praise of Bureaucracy. London: Sage.
du Gay, P., ed. 2004. The Values of Bureaucracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dunne, J. and Hogan, P. 2004. Education and Practice: Upholding the Integrity of Teaching and Learning. Oxford: Blackwell.
Froud, J., Johal, S. and Williams, K. 2002. “Financialisation and the Coupon Pool,” Capital and Class 78 (Autumn): 119–51.
Goffman, E. 1969. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Allen Lane.
Goodpaster, K. and Matthews, J. 1982. “Can a Corporation Have a Conscience?Harvard Business Review 60(1): 132–41.
Hauerwas, S. 2001. The HauerwasReader, ed. Berkman, J. and Cartwright, M.Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
Hine, J. 2007. “The Shadow of MacIntyre’s Manager in the Kingdom of Conscience Constrained,” Business Ethics: A European Review 16(4): 358–71.
Hodgson, D. 2004. “Project Work: The Legacy of Bureaucratic Control in the Post-Bureaucratic Organization,” Organization 11(1): 81100.
Hodson, R. 1999. “Management Citizenship Behavior: A New Concept and an Empirical Test,” Social Problems 46(3): 460–78.
Hoggett, P. 2004. “A Service to the Public: The Containment of Ethical and Moral Conflicts by Public Bureaucracies,” in du Gay 2004: 167–90.
Jackall, R. 1988. Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kallinikos, J. 2004. “The Social Foundations of the Bureaucratic Order,” Organization 11(1): 1336.
Karreman, D. and Alvesson, M. 2004. “Cages in Tandem: Management Control, Social Identity, and Identification in a Knowledge-Intensive Firm,” Organization 11(1) 149–75.
Keat, R. 2000. Cultural Goods and the Limits of the Market. London: MacMillan Press.
Keat, R.. 2008. “Practices, Firms and Varieties of Capitalism,” Philosophy of Management 7(1) 7791.
Klein, S. 1988. “Is a Moral Organisation Possible?Business and Professional Ethics Journal 7(1): 5173.
MacIntyre, A. 1977. “Utilitarianism and Cost-Benefit Analysis: An Essay on the Relevance of Moral Philosophy to Bureaucratic Theory,” in Values in the Electric Power Industry, ed. Sayre, K.. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
MacIntyre, A.. 1979. “Corporate Modernity and Moral Judgement: Are They Mutually Exclusive?” in Ethics and Problems of the 21st Century, ed. Goodpaster, K. E. and Sayer, K. M.Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
MacIntyre, A.. 1985. After Virtue, 2nd ed. London: Duckworth.
MacIntyre, A.. 1994. “A Partial Response to my Critics,” in After MacIntyre, ed. Horton, J. and Mendus, S.Cambridge: Polity Press.
MacIntyre, A.. 1995. Marxism and Christianity. London: Duckworth.
MacIntyre, A.. 1999. “Social Structures and their Threats to Moral Agency,” Philosophy 74:311–29
MacIntyre, A. and Dunne, J. 2002. “Alasdair MacIntyre on Education: In Dialogue with Joseph Dunne,” Journal of Philosophy of Education 36(1): 119.
Mangham, I. 1995. “MacIntyre and the Manager.” Organization 2(2): 181204.
McCann, D. and Brownsberger, M. L. 1990. “Management as a Social Practice: Rethinking Business Ethics after MacIntyre,” The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics: 223–45.
Merton, R. 1940. “Bureaucratic Structure and Personality,” Social Forces 18(1): 560–68.
Moore, G. 2002. “On the Implications of the Practice-Institution Distinction: MacIntyre and the Application of Modern Virtue Ethics to BusinessBusiness Ethics Quarterly 12(1): 1932.
Moore, G.. 2005a. “Corporate Character: Modern Virtue Ethics and the Virtuous Corporation,” Business Ethics Quarterly 15(4): 659—85.
Moore, G.. 2005b. “Humanizing Business: A Modern Virtue Ethics Approach.” Business Ethics Quarterly 15(2): 237–55.
Moore, G. and Beadle, R. 2006. “In Search of Organizational Virtue in Business: Agents, Goods, Practices, Institutions and Environments,” Organization Studies 27(3): 369–89.
Morgan, G. 1997. Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.
Nash, L. 1990. Good Intentions Aside: A Manager’s Guide for Resolving Ethical Problems. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Nash, L. 1995. “Whose Character? A Response to Mangham’s ‘MacIntyre and the Manager,” Organization 2(2): 226–32.
Ogbonna, E. and Wilkinson, B. 2003. “The False Promise of Organizational Culture Change: A Case Study of Middle Managers in Grocery Retailing,” Journal of Management Studies 40(5): 1151–78.
O’Sullivan, M. 2003. “The Political Economy of Comparative Corporate Governance.” Review of International Political Economy 10(1): 2372.
Parker, M. 2002. Against Management. Organization in the Age of Managerialism. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Phillips, R. 2003. “Stakeholder Legitimacy,” Business Ethics Quarterly 13(1): 2541.
Phillips, R., Freeman, R. E and Wicks, A. 2003. “What Stakeholder Theory is Not,” Business Ethics Quarterly 13(4): 479502.
Randels, G. 1995. “Morality and the Manager after MacIntyre: A Response to Mangham,” Organization 2(2): 205–11.
Roberts, J. 1984. “The Moral Character of Management Practice,” Journal of Management Studies 21(3): 287302.
Robertson, I. and Smith, M. 2001. “Personnel Selection,” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 74: 441–72.
Salaman, G. 2004. “Bureaucracy and Beyond: Managers and Leaders in the ‘Post-Bureaucratic’ Organization,” in du Gay 2004: 141–64.
Sennett, R. 1998. The Corrosion of Character. The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
ten Bos, R. and Willmott, H. 2001. “Towards a Post-Dualistic Business Ethics: Interweaving Reason and Emotion in Working Life,” Journal of Management Studies 38(6): 769–93.
Thomas, A. 2003. Controversies in Management: Issues, Debates, Answers, 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
Thompson, P. 2003. “Disconnected Capitalism: Or Why Employers Can’t Keep Their Side of the Bargain,” Work, Employment and Society 17(2): 359–78.
Thornton, P. 2007. Inside the Dark Box: Shedding Light on Private Equity. London: The Work Foundation.
Watson, T. 2002. Organising and Managing Work: Organisational, Managerial andStrategic Behaviour. Harlow: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.
Weaver, G. 2006. “Virtue in Organizations: Moral Agencies as a Foundation for Moral Agency.” Organisation Studies 27(3): 341–68.
Williams, K. 2000. “From Shareholder Value to Present-Day Capitalism,” Economy and Society 29(1): 112.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
  • URL: /core/journals/business-ethics-quarterly
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed