Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 74, Issue 1, pp 37–48 | Cite as

The Power of One: Dissent and Organizational Life

  • Nasrin ShahinpoorEmail author
  • Bernard F. Matt
Corporate Governanace


Over the last 20 years, organizations have attempted numerous innovations to create more openness and to increase ethical practice. However, adult students in business classes report that managers are generally bureaucratically oriented and averse to constructive criticism or principled dissent. When organizations oppose dissent, they suffer the consequences of mistakes that could be prevented and they create an unethical and toxic environment for individual employees. By distinguishing principled dissent from other forms of criticism and opposition, managers and leaders can perceive the dissenter as an important organizational voice and a valued employee. The dissenter, like the whistleblower, is often highly ethically motivated and desires to contribute to the organization’s wellbeing. Recognizing and protecting principled dissent provides the means of transforming organizations. By restoring dignity to the individual, organizations gain more productive and loyal employees, and they create an environment that promotes critical thinking, learning, and a commitment to ethics.


conscience corporate governance dignity dissent employee rights management ethics organizational ethics respect worker’s rights 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHanover CollegeHanoverU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of Religion and PhilosophyWilmington College—Cincinnati BranchCincinnatiU.S.A.

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