Skip to main content
main-content
Top

Hint

Swipe to navigate through the articles of this issue

Published in: Journal of Business Ethics 1/2022

14-02-2021 | Original Paper

Leadership and Character(s): Behavioral Business Ethics in ‘War and Peace’

Author: Christopher Michaelson

Published in: Journal of Business Ethics | Issue 1/2022

Login to get access
share
SHARE

Abstract

Leo Tolstoy was on to behavioral ethics before there was such as a thing as behavioral ethics. Three scenes from his magnum opus, War and Peace, demonstrate that Tolstoy diagnosed some of the same problems that occupy modern behavioral ethics: confirmation bias, slippery-slope reasoning, and illusions of control. However, whereas modern behavioral ethics has done more to diagnose problems than to prescribe solutions, Tolstoy’s theories of moral psychology and leadership provide direction for human moral self-cultivation. This analysis of War and Peace also suggests that literary fiction can depict worlds at least as fertile as the real world for studying business ethics. Building upon this example, in an age and field which seems too often to prioritize scientific wisdom over that of the humanities, I speculate about how literary fiction can expand our research into more diverse actors and worlds of modern capitalism.
Footnotes
1
This story is based on real events but is stylized and simplified in the spirit of storytelling and confidentiality.
 
2
Like the Dunnigan translation upon which I am primarily relying, the Maude translation uses the words “power,” “relation,” and “administration,” and for “commerce,” the Maudes use “trade.” Pevear and Volokhonsky also use “power” and “relation” in the first quotation but use “trade” and “management” in the second.
 
Literature
go back to reference Argyris, C. (2002). Double-loop learning, teaching, and research. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 1, 206–218. Argyris, C. (2002). Double-loop learning, teaching, and research. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 1, 206–218.
go back to reference Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions. New York: HarperCollins. Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably irrational: The hidden forces that shape our decisions. New York: HarperCollins.
go back to reference Aristotle. 1941. De Poetica (trans. Ingram Bywater). In R. McKeon (Ed.), The basic works of Aristotle. New York: Random House. Aristotle. 1941. De Poetica (trans. Ingram Bywater). In R. McKeon (Ed.), The basic works of Aristotle. New York: Random House.
go back to reference Arnold, M. (1888). Count Leo Tolstoy. In Essays on Criticism (Vol. 2). New York: Macmillan. Arnold, M. (1888). Count Leo Tolstoy. In Essays on Criticism (Vol. 2). New York: Macmillan.
go back to reference Badaracco, J. (2006). Questions of character: Illuminating the heart of leadership through literature. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. Badaracco, J. (2006). Questions of character: Illuminating the heart of leadership through literature. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.
go back to reference Bayley, J. (1988). Tolstoy and the novel. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Bayley, J. (1988). Tolstoy and the novel. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
go back to reference Bazerman, M. H., & Tenbrunsel, A. E. (2011). Blind spots: Why we fail to do what’s right and what to do about it. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Bazerman, M. H., & Tenbrunsel, A. E. (2011). Blind spots: Why we fail to do what’s right and what to do about it. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
go back to reference Beigi, M., Callahan, J., & Michaelson, C. (2019). A critical plot twist: Changing characters and foreshadowing the future of organizational storytelling. International Journal of Management Reviews, 21(4), 447–465. Beigi, M., Callahan, J., & Michaelson, C. (2019). A critical plot twist: Changing characters and foreshadowing the future of organizational storytelling. International Journal of Management Reviews, 21(4), 447–465.
go back to reference Berlin, I. (1953). The hedgehog and the fox: An essay on Tolstoy’s view of history. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. Berlin, I. (1953). The hedgehog and the fox: An essay on Tolstoy’s view of history. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee.
go back to reference Booth, W. C. (1983). The rhetoric of fiction (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Booth, W. C. (1983). The rhetoric of fiction (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
go back to reference Bowie, N. E. (2000). Business ethics, philosophy, and the next 25 years. Business Ethics Quarterly, 10(1), 7–20. Bowie, N. E. (2000). Business ethics, philosophy, and the next 25 years. Business Ethics Quarterly, 10(1), 7–20.
go back to reference Brockner, J. (1992). The escalation of commitment to a failing course of action: Toward theoretical progress. Academy of Management Review, 17(1), 39–61. Brockner, J. (1992). The escalation of commitment to a failing course of action: Toward theoretical progress. Academy of Management Review, 17(1), 39–61.
go back to reference Burnyeat, M. F. (1982). Gods and heaps. In M. Schofield & M. C. Nussbaum (Eds.), Language and Logos. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Burnyeat, M. F. (1982). Gods and heaps. In M. Schofield & M. C. Nussbaum (Eds.), Language and Logos. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
go back to reference Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap…and others don’t. New York: HarperBusiness. Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap…and others don’t. New York: HarperBusiness.
go back to reference Davis, M., & Stark, A. (Eds.). (2001). Conflict of interest in the professions. New York: Oxford University Press. Davis, M., & Stark, A. (Eds.). (2001). Conflict of interest in the professions. New York: Oxford University Press.
go back to reference DeCock, C. (2000). Essai: Reflections on fiction, representation, and organization studies: An essay with special reference to the work of Jorge Luis Borges. Organization Studies, 21, 589–609. DeCock, C. (2000). Essai: Reflections on fiction, representation, and organization studies: An essay with special reference to the work of Jorge Luis Borges. Organization Studies, 21, 589–609.
go back to reference Donaldson, T. (2003). Taking ethics seriously: A mission now more possible. Academy of Management Review, 28(3), 363–366. Donaldson, T. (2003). Taking ethics seriously: A mission now more possible. Academy of Management Review, 28(3), 363–366.
go back to reference Donaldson, T. J., & Freeman, R. E. (Eds.). (1994). Business as a humanity. New York: Oxford University Press. Donaldson, T. J., & Freeman, R. E. (Eds.). (1994). Business as a humanity. New York: Oxford University Press.
go back to reference Ellis, H. (1921). Tolstoi: The new spirit. New York: Boni and Liveright. Ellis, H. (1921). Tolstoi: The new spirit. New York: Boni and Liveright.
go back to reference Feldman, S. P. (2004). The professional conscience: A psychoanalytic study of moral character in Tolstoy’s The death of Ivan Ilych. Journal of Business Ethics, 47(4), 311–328. Feldman, S. P. (2004). The professional conscience: A psychoanalytic study of moral character in Tolstoy’s The death of Ivan Ilych. Journal of Business Ethics, 47(4), 311–328.
go back to reference Friedman, T. L. (2016). Thank you for being late: An optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Friedman, T. L. (2016). Thank you for being late: An optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
go back to reference Gagliardi, P., & Czarniawska, B. (2006). Management education and the humanities. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Gagliardi, P., & Czarniawska, B. (2006). Management education and the humanities. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
go back to reference Gentile, M. C. (2010). Giving voice to values: How to speak your mind when you know what’s right. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Gentile, M. C. (2010). Giving voice to values: How to speak your mind when you know what’s right. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
go back to reference Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make big differences. New York: Little, Brown. Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make big differences. New York: Little, Brown.
go back to reference Goodpaster, K. E. (2002). Teaching and learning ethics by the case method. In N. Bowie (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to business ethics (pp. 117–141). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Goodpaster, K. E. (2002). Teaching and learning ethics by the case method. In N. Bowie (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to business ethics (pp. 117–141). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
go back to reference Gragg, C. I. (1940). Because wisdom can’t be told. Boston, MA: Harvard Alumni Bulletin. Gragg, C. I. (1940). Because wisdom can’t be told. Boston, MA: Harvard Alumni Bulletin.
go back to reference Green, M. C., Chatham, C., & Sestir, M. (2012). Emotion and transportation into fact and fiction. Scientific Study of Literature, 2, 37–59. Green, M. C., Chatham, C., & Sestir, M. (2012). Emotion and transportation into fact and fiction. Scientific Study of Literature, 2, 37–59.
go back to reference Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The servant as leader. Cambridge, MA: Center for Applied Studies. Greenleaf, R. K. (1970). The servant as leader. Cambridge, MA: Center for Applied Studies.
go back to reference Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail. Psychology Review, 108(4), 814–834. Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail. Psychology Review, 108(4), 814–834.
go back to reference Haidt, J. (2006). The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. New York: Basic Books. Haidt, J. (2006). The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. New York: Basic Books.
go back to reference Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. New York: Pantheon Books. Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. New York: Pantheon Books.
go back to reference Hartman, D. K. (1992). Intertextuality and reading: The text, the reader, the author, and the context. Linguistics and Education, 4, 295–311. Hartman, D. K. (1992). Intertextuality and reading: The text, the reader, the author, and the context. Linguistics and Education, 4, 295–311.
go back to reference Hartman, E. (1996). Organizational ethics and the good life. New York: Oxford University Press. Hartman, E. (1996). Organizational ethics and the good life. New York: Oxford University Press.
go back to reference Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
go back to reference Kern, M. C., & Chugh, D. (2009). Bounded ethicality: The perils of loss framing. Psychological Science, 20(3), 378–384. Kern, M. C., & Chugh, D. (2009). Bounded ethicality: The perils of loss framing. Psychological Science, 20(3), 378–384.
go back to reference Kidd, D. E., & Castano, E. (2013). Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science, 342, 377–380. Kidd, D. E., & Castano, E. (2013). Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science, 342, 377–380.
go back to reference Leeson, N. (1996). Rogue trader: The original story of the banker who broke the system. London: Little, Brown. Leeson, N. (1996). Rogue trader: The original story of the banker who broke the system. London: Little, Brown.
go back to reference Maugham, W. S. (1959). W. Somerset Maugham selects the world’s ten greatest novels. New York: Fawcett. Maugham, W. S. (1959). W. Somerset Maugham selects the world’s ten greatest novels. New York: Fawcett.
go back to reference McCabe, D. (2014). Light in the darkness? Managers in the back office of a Kafkaesque bank. Organization Studies, 35(2), 255–278. McCabe, D. (2014). Light in the darkness? Managers in the back office of a Kafkaesque bank. Organization Studies, 35(2), 255–278.
go back to reference McLean, B., & Elkind, P. (2003). The smartest guys in the room: The amazing rise and scandalous fall of Enron. New York: Penguin. McLean, B., & Elkind, P. (2003). The smartest guys in the room: The amazing rise and scandalous fall of Enron. New York: Penguin.
go back to reference Messick, D. M., & Bazerman, M. H. (1996). Ethics for the 21st century: A decision-making approach. MIT Sloan Management Review, 37(2), 9–22. Messick, D. M., & Bazerman, M. H. (1996). Ethics for the 21st century: A decision-making approach. MIT Sloan Management Review, 37(2), 9–22.
go back to reference Meyer, R., & Kunreuther, H. (2017). The ostrich paradox: Why we underprepare for hazards. Philadelphia, PA: Wharton Digital Press. Meyer, R., & Kunreuther, H. (2017). The ostrich paradox: Why we underprepare for hazards. Philadelphia, PA: Wharton Digital Press.
go back to reference Meynhardt, T., Hermann, C., & Anderer, S. (2017). Making sense of a most popular metaphor in management: Towards a hedgefox scale for cognitive styles. Administrative Sciences, 7(3), 33. Meynhardt, T., Hermann, C., & Anderer, S. (2017). Making sense of a most popular metaphor in management: Towards a hedgefox scale for cognitive styles. Administrative Sciences, 7(3), 33.
go back to reference Michaelson, C. (2008). Work and the most terrible life. Journal of Business Ethics, 77(3), 335–345. Michaelson, C. (2008). Work and the most terrible life. Journal of Business Ethics, 77(3), 335–345.
go back to reference Michaelson, C. (2015). How reading novels can help management scholars cultivate ambiculturalism. Academy of Management Review, 40(1), 147–149. Michaelson, C. (2015). How reading novels can help management scholars cultivate ambiculturalism. Academy of Management Review, 40(1), 147–149.
go back to reference Michaelson, C. (2016). A novel approach to business ethics education: Exploring how to live and work in the 21st century. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 15(3), 588–606. Michaelson, C. (2016). A novel approach to business ethics education: Exploring how to live and work in the 21st century. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 15(3), 588–606.
go back to reference Michaelson, C. (2017). Virtual special issue on humanities and business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 142(3), 409–412. Michaelson, C. (2017). Virtual special issue on humanities and business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 142(3), 409–412.
go back to reference Morson, G. S. (1987). Hidden in plain view: Narrative and creative potentials in ‘War and Peace.’ Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Morson, G. S. (1987). Hidden in plain view: Narrative and creative potentials in ‘War and Peace.’ Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
go back to reference Morson, G. S., & Schapiro, M. (2017). Cents and sensibility: What economics can learn from the humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Morson, G. S., & Schapiro, M. (2017). Cents and sensibility: What economics can learn from the humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
go back to reference Murphy, P., & Enderle, G. (1995). Managerial ethical leadership: Examples do matter. Business Ethics Quarterly, 5, 97–116. Murphy, P., & Enderle, G. (1995). Managerial ethical leadership: Examples do matter. Business Ethics Quarterly, 5, 97–116.
go back to reference Nussbaum, M. C. (1990). Love’s knowledge: Essays on philosophy and literature. New York: Oxford University Press. Nussbaum, M. C. (1990). Love’s knowledge: Essays on philosophy and literature. New York: Oxford University Press.
go back to reference Nussbaum, M. C. (2001). Upheavals of thought: The intelligence of emotions. New York: Cambridge University Press. Nussbaum, M. C. (2001). Upheavals of thought: The intelligence of emotions. New York: Cambridge University Press.
go back to reference Paine, L. S. (1994). Managing for organizational integrity. Harvard Business Review, 72(2), 106–117. Paine, L. S. (1994). Managing for organizational integrity. Harvard Business Review, 72(2), 106–117.
go back to reference Phillips, N. (1995). Telling organizational tales: On the role of narrative fiction in the study of organizations. Organization Studies, 16, 625–649. Phillips, N. (1995). Telling organizational tales: On the role of narrative fiction in the study of organizations. Organization Studies, 16, 625–649.
go back to reference Rabin, M., & Vayanos, D. (2010). The gambler’s and hot-hand fallacies: Theory and applications. Review of Economic Studies, 77, 730–778. Rabin, M., & Vayanos, D. (2010). The gambler’s and hot-hand fallacies: Theory and applications. Review of Economic Studies, 77, 730–778.
go back to reference Rhodes, C., & Brown, A. D. (2005). Narrative, organizations and research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 7, 167–188. Rhodes, C., & Brown, A. D. (2005). Narrative, organizations and research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 7, 167–188.
go back to reference Savage, P., Cornelissen, J. P., & Franck, H. (2018). Fiction and organization studies. Organization Studies, 39(7), 975–994. Savage, P., Cornelissen, J. P., & Franck, H. (2018). Fiction and organization studies. Organization Studies, 39(7), 975–994.
go back to reference Solomon, R. C. (1992). Ethics and excellence: Cooperation and integrity in business. New York: Oxford University Press. Solomon, R. C. (1992). Ethics and excellence: Cooperation and integrity in business. New York: Oxford University Press.
go back to reference Solomon, R. C. (1999). Game theory as a model for business and business ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 9(1), 11–29. Solomon, R. C. (1999). Game theory as a model for business and business ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly, 9(1), 11–29.
go back to reference Steiner, G. (1959). Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? An essay in the old criticism. New York: Vintage Books. Steiner, G. (1959). Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? An essay in the old criticism. New York: Vintage Books.
go back to reference Tetlock, P. E. (2005). Expert political judgment: How good is it? How can we know? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Tetlock, P. E. (2005). Expert political judgment: How good is it? How can we know? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
go back to reference Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
go back to reference Tolstoy, L. N. (1968, originally published 1867). War and peace (trans. A. Dunnigan). New York: Signet. Tolstoy, L. N. (1968, originally published 1867). War and peace (trans. A. Dunnigan). New York: Signet.
go back to reference Tolstoy, L. N. (2007, originally published 1867). War and peace (trans. R. Pevear & L. Volokhonsky). New York: Random House. Tolstoy, L. N. (2007, originally published 1867). War and peace (trans. R. Pevear & L. Volokhonsky). New York: Random House.
go back to reference Tolstoy, L. N. (1994, originally completed 1897). What is art? (trans. A. Maude, ed. W. G. Jones). New York: Oxford University Press. Tolstoy, L. N. (1994, originally completed 1897). What is art? (trans. A. Maude, ed. W. G. Jones). New York: Oxford University Press.
go back to reference Treviño, L. K., & Brown, M. E. (2004). Managing to be ethical: Debunking five business ethics myths. Academy of Management Executive, 19(2), 69–81. Treviño, L. K., & Brown, M. E. (2004). Managing to be ethical: Debunking five business ethics myths. Academy of Management Executive, 19(2), 69–81.
go back to reference Treviño, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2014). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Treviño, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2014). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
go back to reference Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Science, 211(4481), 453–458. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1981). The framing of decisions and the psychology of choice. Science, 211(4481), 453–458.
go back to reference Wasiolek, E. (1978). Tolstoy’s major fiction. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Wasiolek, E. (1978). Tolstoy’s major fiction. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
go back to reference Wasiolek, E. (1985). L.N. Tolstoy: Life, work, and criticism. Fredericton, NB: York Press. Wasiolek, E. (1985). L.N. Tolstoy: Life, work, and criticism. Fredericton, NB: York Press.
go back to reference Weaver, G. R., Reynolds, S. J., & Brown, M. E. (2014). Moral intuition: Connecting current knowledge to future organizational research and practice. Journal of Management, 40(1), 100–129. Weaver, G. R., Reynolds, S. J., & Brown, M. E. (2014). Moral intuition: Connecting current knowledge to future organizational research and practice. Journal of Management, 40(1), 100–129.
go back to reference Weaver, G. R., & Treviño, L. K. (1994). Normative and empirical business ethics: Separation, marriage of convenience or marriage of necessity? Business Ethics Quarterly, 4(2), 129–144. Weaver, G. R., & Treviño, L. K. (1994). Normative and empirical business ethics: Separation, marriage of convenience or marriage of necessity? Business Ethics Quarterly, 4(2), 129–144.
go back to reference Whitehead, A. N. (1978). Process and reality. New York: The Free Press. Whitehead, A. N. (1978). Process and reality. New York: The Free Press.
go back to reference Williams, B. (1985). Ethics and the limits of philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Williams, B. (1985). Ethics and the limits of philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
go back to reference Zane, J. P. (Ed.). (2007). The top ten: Writers pick their favourite books. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Zane, J. P. (Ed.). (2007). The top ten: Writers pick their favourite books. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
go back to reference Zhang, T., Gino, F., & Bazerman, M. H. (2014). Morality rebooted. Exploring simple fixes to our moral bugs. Research in Organizational Behavior, 34, 63–79. Zhang, T., Gino, F., & Bazerman, M. H. (2014). Morality rebooted. Exploring simple fixes to our moral bugs. Research in Organizational Behavior, 34, 63–79.
Metadata
Title
Leadership and Character(s): Behavioral Business Ethics in ‘War and Peace’
Author
Christopher Michaelson
Publication date
14-02-2021
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Journal of Business Ethics / Issue 1/2022
Print ISSN: 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN: 1573-0697
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-021-04746-y

Other articles of this Issue 1/2022

Journal of Business Ethics 1/2022 Go to the issue

Premium Partner