Building on dissatisfaction with current approaches that entail a superficial conception of the firm’s moral agency, this article has two broad theoretical underpinnings. First, it refers to the Catholic Social Thought’s view of the enterprise as a community of work, which leads to place stress on the possibility of creating ‘organizational humanizing cultures’ that revolve around the principles of human dignity and the common good and allow organizational members to flourish. Second, the article draws on the (nowadays underappreciated) perspective of the sociologist Philip Selznick to emphasize the key role of ‘institutional leadership’ in the formation and maintenance of a moral organizational character, also suggesting that these processes involve an influence on the development of employees’ moral identity conceived as a driver of moral agency. On these theoretical grounds, the article’s central argument is articulated by claiming that human resource management can provide essential support for the development of organizational humanizing cultures. In particular, it is highlighted how human resource management professionals may operate as institutional leaders who contribute to the embedding of moral identities in the organizational context.
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My translation from Italian.
“Since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in [God’s] image and likeness” (CSDC, no. 144).
A substantial interdependence must also be seen, ultimately, between human flourishing in and around the company. This occurs to the extent to which the goods and services meeting society’s needs are provided by the firm in such a way so as to favor the human growth of people in this social context, and – at the same time – serving the needs of those outside the community of work is a “basis of developing those within it” (Naughton 2006: 54, emphasis in original).
Since this view’s anthropology is theologically grounded, it is crucial to note that its conception of the human person originates outside the ‘natural’ realm of sociocultural and economic life, “in man’s essential dignity in God” (Sandelands 2009: 94); in this deeper sense, persons can develop to the extent to which they grow in the image of God and in relationship to God.
Such as, notably, those by Thomas Aquinas and Alasdair MacIntyre.
In particular, as for moral motivation Guillén suggests the addition of motives such as moral respect for our human dignity and the desire to give moral good to others; and, in the case of spiritual motivation, he refers to categories such as the developing of one’s inner life, the search for human relatedness and – at the highest level – religious motivation as a form of spirituality open to the personal relationship with a Higher Being or God.
Melé provides a discussion of such key features in developing the central argument of his paper, whose overall aim is to suggest that an organizational humanizing culture represents a basis for creating social capital (intended as an asset embedded in relationships of persons and various kinds of communities or social networks).
An insightful discussion of Selznick’s intellectual trajectory and production is offered by Krygier (2012).
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The author wishes to thank: the participants to the Conference ‘Building Institutions for the Common Good: The Purpose and Practice of Business in an Inclusive Economy’ (Track 2: ‘Exploring the Common Good & Its Relevance for Specific Fields of Management’), held at the University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis, June 21-23, 2018), for meaningful discussions; and two anonymous reviewers for their detailed and generous comments on previous drafts of this article.
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Monaci, M. Embedding Humanizing Cultures in Organizations through ‘Institutional’ Leadership: the Role of HRM. Humanist Manag J (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41463-020-00086-7
- Organizational humanizing cultures
- Institutional leadership
- Human resource management
- Moral identity in organizations
- Catholic social thought
- Common good
- Philip Selznick