Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 144, Issue 4, pp 813–822 | Cite as

What Would John Stuart Mill Say? A Utilitarian Perspective on Contemporary Neuroscience Debates in Leadership

  • Dirk LindebaumEmail author
  • Effi Raftopoulou


The domain of organizational neuroscience increasingly influences leadership research and practice in terms of both selection and interventions. The dominant view is that the use of neuroscientific theories and methods offers better and refined predictions of what constitutes good leadership. What has been omitted so far, however, is a deeper engagement with ethical theories. This engagement is imperative as it helps problematize a great deal of the current advocacy around organizational neuroscience. In this article, we draw upon John Stuart Mill’s Theory of Utility as a theoretical framework to this end. Our discussion reveals several negative psychological and physical side-effects, which undermine the prevailing view that neuroscientific methods can be used without risk at work. We discuss the theoretical and practical ramifications of our analysis.


Ethics Leadership John Stuart Mill Organizational neuroscience Utilitarianism 



We gratefully recognize the constructive suggestions by Mike Zundel on an earlier draft of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management SchoolThe University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Keele Management SchoolKeele UniversityKeeleUK

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