Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 136, Issue 2, pp 385–398 | Cite as

Governance and Virtue: The Case of Public Order Policing

  • Kevin MorrellEmail author
  • Stephen Brammer


For Aristotle, virtues are neither transcendent nor universal, but socially interdependent; they need to be understood chronologically and with respect to character and context. This paper uses an Aristotelian lens to analyse an especially interesting context in which to study virtue—the state’s response when social order breaks down. During such periods, questions relating to right action by citizens, the state, and state agents are pronounced. To study this, we analyse data from interviews, observation, and documents gathered during a 3-year study of riot policing in the U.K. In doing so, we contribute by joining a number of other conversations within JBE, suggesting detailed empirical examination of this context is useful in opening up considerations relevant to ‘virtue’ elsewhere. This extreme context helps us raise interesting and empirically informed questions that can encourage future theoretical and empirical contributions to virtue in business ethics. One such question is on the role of habituation in virtue, which is not just the inculcation of a reflex or automaticity, but can also refer to a trained and developed tendency to behave in the right way, for the right reasons, at the right time. Whilst we stop short of a simplistic alignment of habituation and virtue, we show ways in which it can inform understanding of both courage and phronēsis.


Aristotle Governance Habit Police Riot Virtue 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Warwick Business SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.Birmingham Business SchoolUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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