Skip to main content

Über dieses Buch

This important book focuses on the role of human dignity, its protection and promotion in the context of organization and Humanistic Management. The recent phenomenon of humanism in management already has a rich body of literature and takes up many themes both theoretically, and from a practitioner perspective. Dignity and the Organization is the first book to explicitly deal with the topic of human dignity and management. The chapters address various aspects and problems from a humanistically-oriented perspective, taking up issues relevant for the contemporary management theorists and practitioners, and are concerned with organization, management and the social and cultural context. The book develops the notion of human dignity in conceptual and theoretical terms in its practical application, within the context of organizations.



1. Introduction to Dignity and Organization

Humanistic management is a paradigm focusing on organizational practices that protect human dignity and promote human well-being. It differs from the economistic paradigm in that it embraces the distinction between goods that can be exchanged and those things in life that are priceless and cannot be (Pirson and Dierksmeier 2014; Pirson and Lawrence 2010). Kant would say the latter possess dignity and are intrinsically valuable (such as love, character, human rights), but these elements of life also escape the most prominent research paradigm we have in organizational contexts: the exchange paradigm. The humanistic management perspective as such challenges a foundational principle of modern organizational science: the focus on the market, efficiency and exchange. While the humanistic perspective clearly embraces the exchange perspective, it sees exchange as a reductionist approach to social and organizational science. The humanistic management perspective also questions one of the prevailing, paradigmatic pillars of what we organize for, by suggesting that the aim of organizing should be a contribution to the common good, or the creation of well-being. This aim contrasts with one of the primary organizational goals of the business world: material wealth creation, i.e. shareholder value. (Mele 2003; Pirson and Lawrence 2010).
Michael Pirson, Monika Kostera

2. Dignity in Organizing from the Perspective of Hannah Arendt’s Worldliness

Hannah Arendt is not one of the more frequently cited names in today’s dignity discourse, despite having made an early contribution to the debate popularized (McCrudden 2008) by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In her book, On the Origins of Totalitarianism, written around the time of the declaration and when many were experiencing rightlessness, superfluousness, and statelessness, she devotes a chapter to “the perplexities of the rights of man,” in which she formulates her view of the “right to have rights.” In her foreword, she states that “human dignity needs a new guarantee which can be found only in a new political principle, in a new law on earth” (OT, p. ix).
Sissi Ingman

3. Dignity and Membership: A Route to the Heart of How Dignity Is Done in Everyday Interaction

What is dignity? Without doubt, it is a problematic term surrounded by ambiguity and contradiction, one addressed in a wide variety of ways by different contributors within this collection. From the perspective of those interested in the conduct of empirical research, dignity presents a particular problem not dissimilar to qualities such as leadership or enterprise: it appears simple enough to identify until one tries to grasp it, when it then becomes an object of questionable validity. Unlike leadership or enterprise, dignity is something rarely discussed or represented outside situations of extreme discomfort or dehumanization. As such, although dignity has strong heuristic power in moral narrative, its existence as a tangible part of everyday interactions in organisations is not clearly defined.
Laura Mitchell

4. Dignity and Species Difference Within Organizations

The concept of dignity has traditionally been framed by ideas of human rights, such as respect, worth, and esteem. It is a notion that does not usually extend beyond human social interactions within our homes and workplaces. This is largely explained by powerful and ancient distinctions between ‘us’ and ‘them’, based not only on physical and genomic differences but on our vastly different experiential and behavioural registers and our capacities for choice, action, and cognition. The attendant status gap that tracks these apparent differences sustains the ‘moral categories’ of animal and human and helps explain why we tend not to think of dignity as an animal quality. For millennia, however, humans have relied upon the productive capacities of other species for transport, defence, law enforcement and food. The important work that other animals do for the human animal prompts us to think more deeply about the organizational status of that animal and their dignity in labour.
Lindsay Hamilton, Laura Mitchell

5. Dignity at the Level of the Firm: Beyond the Stakeholder Approach

After the financial crisis that took place in 2008, many scholars proposed a new position for the firm inside society; one in which the generation of value for all stakeholders and the environmental responsibility were basic points (Porter and Kramer 2011). However, the dominant economic anthropology (the neoclassical theory of the firm) still proposes that the objective of the firm is short-term profit maximization (Jensen 2002). On the other hand, other academics have used the stakeholder approach to direct the objectives of the firm not only to maximize shareholders’ interest, but also the interests of all economic actors that interact inside or with the firm. The main objective of this chapter is to present a model that could facilitate firms to deal with the issue of morality directed to the preservation and development of human dignity. In short, the paper’s intention is to go beyond the stakeholder approach and propose the ISCT as a valid approach to integrate the discussion about human dignity at the level of the firm in an attempt to reconnect firms’ objectives with the interest of society.
Ricardo Aguado, José Luis Retolaza, Leire Alcañiz

6. Marx, Alienation and the Denial of Dignity of Work

This chapter examines the relevance of Marx’s theory of alienation to discussions concerning dignity and work. Ultimately, We provide an exposition of Marx’s theory of alienation, which includes Marx’s view of what he calls our species-being, the nature of alienated labour, the implications for dignity denial arising from a lack of control over work products and work processes, the adverse impact alienated labour has on working relationships, and the relationship between labour and dignity. This theoretical discussion is followed by a reference to a case study concerning ICT professionals in an attempt to illustrate how effective Marx’s view of alienation can be in comprehending the experiences, including dignity denial, of these professionals at work. This section of the chapter opens with a number of comments about the overarching environment within which these professionals work before focusing tightly on a key aspect of the working conditions these professionals experience: namely, control of their work process and its impact on dignity at work. The chapter concludes by discussing the implications of using Marx’s theory of alienation to research and oppose dignity-denying work.
Mike Healy, Iwona Wilkowska

7. Dignity Restoration: The Indirect Goal of Social Enterprises’ Activity

“Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things”. These words by Pope Francis (Pinterest n.d.) accurately describe the essence of the chapter. Immanuel Kant—considered to be the father of contemporary thought on human dignity—also describes dignity as a value that is beyond any price (Kant 1964). Dignity is not given; we do not have to offer something or do something to have it. We are born with this precious value. This is an inherent aspect of our humanity. We may sometimes have difficulties with defining dignity; yet, we know when it has been disturbed. It is because “dignity is like air and just as important. When there’s enough of it, you don’t notice it. You don’t think about it. When there’s a lack of air, you suffocate. All you want is air” (Aubanova and Dull 2012, p. 10).
Aneta Milczarczyk

8. ‘Dignity and Leadership: Implications of Leaders’ Language and Their Assumptions of Human Nature

Echoing the initiative to reconnect management theory with social welfare (Pirson and Dierksmeier 2014), this chapter focusses on human dignity as it applies to leadership theory and practice. Leaders’ assumptions of human nature underpin their behaviour (Fahrenberg and Cheetham 2008; Heslin and Vande Walle 2008) and influence the extent to which they respect the dignity of their employees.
Greg Latemore

9. From Human Resource Management to Human Dignity Development: A Dignity Perspective on HRM and the Role of Workplace Democracy

The recent crisis has revealed a number of problems inherent to contemporary societies and economic systems (Seymour 2014) and has increased many of these, including greater inequality and more poverty, depression, suicides, and other health problems (Kentikelenis et al. 2014; Seymour 2014). Moreover, the crisis also revealed and amplified problems for workers, including unemployment and underemployment (George 2014), as well as a higher rate of burnout (Leiter et al. 2014) and worker abuse (Lucas et al. 2011). Besides these human costs, there are also financial costs. For example, the costs of employee burnout have been calculated to be over £77 billion a year across Europe (Evans-Lacko and Knapp 2014). In the search for underlying problems, many scholars have pointed towards flaws in the economic system and increasing social injustice (George 2014; Harvey 2005; Seymour 2014). More specifically, at the heart of capitalism, and in particular neoliberalism, are the focus on (short-term) profit maximization for individual firms, the focus on the instrumentality of labor, and the focus on individualism among workers. These elements have been adopted in many modern organizations and have affected the relationships between employees and their organizations (Bal 2015).
P. Matthijs Bal, Simon B. de Jong

10. Office Design and Dignity at Work in the Knowledge Economy

The current chapter looks at a grossly overlooked aspect affecting employee dignity in the workplace – the physical environment. Office buildings represent the second largest financial overhead and they play a critical role in the organization of the processes and the power structure of any organization. Dignity is deconstructed into matters of identity, autonomy, dependency, seriousness, and trust which are linked to the studied effects of the office environment on employees - (i) the office structure and layout, (ii) the office décor and design, and (iii) ergonomic aspects. Their effects are expressed at multiple levels and encompass broad outcomes ranging from individual physical and psychological wellbeing to job satisfaction to team cohesion and organizational performance. Employees are almost never consulted on their preferences for elements of the office design and that there is no recognition for the need for different solutions for different types of employees and contexts. This state of affairs brings the question of employee dignity into the picture.
Ralitza Nikolaeva, Silvia Dello Russo

11. Dignity by Design: A Shift from Formalistic to Humanistic Design in Organizations

With this book chapter, we show how organizations may utilize humanistic design, a practice that supports humanistic management, by creating space that signals the promotion of human dignity. We discuss what a shift from formalistic to humanistic design implies for organizations and members. We situate our discussion within the healthcare sector to descriptively unpack the practical application of humanistic design, including what this application has done for the dignity of patients. Additionally, we look at how this design focus may extend beyond healthcare. Our purpose is to discuss how organizational choices pertaining to the design of physical space may support or negate the promotion of dignity.
Delia Mannen, Lorissa MacAllister

12. Concluding Observations

This book presents some of the latest thinking on dignity and organizations. It focuses on the conceptualization of dignity within organizational contexts and explores practices that either undermine, deny, remedy, or protect human dignity. While this book presented a short glimpse into ongoing research, it hopes to spark more such research. While dignity arguably is a base concept relevant for better organizing practices, much needs to be understood, formalized, and explored. We wish to encourage more conceptual work, measurement work, and studies exploring practices that protect and promote human dignity.
Michael Pirson, Monika Kostera


Weitere Informationen

Premium Partner