“Speaking on Behalf of…”: Leadership Ethics and the Collective Nature of Moral Reflection

  • Andreas RascheEmail author


In this essay I discuss two limitations that emerge when considering Tsoukas (J Bus Ethics 2018. analysis of the Academy of Management’s (AOM) initial response to the travel ban issued by President Trump in 2017. First, I suggest that any initial official response on the part of AOM would have required its leaders to “speak on behalf of” all AOM members and thus would have created a number of problems. We therefore need to take better account of others’ perspectives (“speaking with”) whenever speaking for others. For this reason I emphasize that moral imagination does not constitute a solely individual cognitive act but must be thought of as a deliberative process. Second, while Tsoukas’ analysis suggests that the leadership of AOM should have made an exception to the rule on taking public stands, I show that such exceptions need to be justified communicatively, especially when dealing with moral questions. My analysis outlines the formal and informal communication processes necessary to facilitate such justification and explores ways in which AOM’s current approach to deliberation can be improved.


Leadership ethics Collective moral decisions Deliberation Derrida Habermas 



I am grateful to Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Greenwood, and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and many helpful suggestions. Nany Urbanowicz (AOM’s Executive Director) answered some questions I had regarding Connect@AOM and a member survey that was carried out by the AOM Task Force on Taking Stands. Anita M. McGahan clarified some factual questions I had.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CBS SustainabilityCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  2. 2.Stockholm School of EconomicsMistra Centre for Sustainable Markets (MISUM)StockholmSweden

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