Responsible Management: Engaging Moral Reflexive Practice Through Threshold Concepts

Abstract

In this conceptual paper we argue that, to date, principles of responsible management have not impacted practice as anticipated because of a disconnect between knowledge and practice. This disconnect means that an awareness of ethical concerns, by itself, does not help students take personal responsibility for their actions. We suggest that an abstract knowledge of principles has to be supplemented by an engaged understanding of the responsibility of managers and leaders to actively challenge irresponsible practices. We argue that a form of moral reflexive practice drawing on an understanding of threshold concepts is central to responsible management, and provides a gateway to transformative learning. Our conceptual argument leads to implications for management and professional education.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For example: critical perspectives on leadership and teamwork, along with particular critical lenses (such as feminism) through which any aspect of organizational life could be viewed differently.

  2. 2.

    The knowledge–practice disconnect is not limited to corporate or social responsibility issues: see Baldwin et al. (2011).

  3. 3.

    We follow Gunia et al (2012, p. 14) in understanding ethical to be an evaluative term “…to describe decisions that are normatively appropriate (with its opposite being “unethical”)”, although we recognize that what is regarded as normative is socially constructed and varies with time and community (as do Lange and Washburn 2012). Moreover, we also recognize that there are always outlier individuals who are quite content to behave irresponsibly without regard to others. Nevertheless we are encouraged by Gunia’s et al (2012) results, which indicate that for most people this is not the case.

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Hibbert, P., Cunliffe, A. Responsible Management: Engaging Moral Reflexive Practice Through Threshold Concepts. J Bus Ethics 127, 177–188 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-013-1993-7

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Keywords

  • Responsibility
  • Reflexivity
  • Threshold concepts