Embedding Humanizing Cultures in Organizations through ‘Institutional’ Leadership: the Role of HRM

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    My translation from Italian.

  2. 2.

    “Since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in [God’s] image and likeness” (CSDC, no. 144).

  3. 3.

    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).

  4. 4.

    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.

  5. 5.

    Such as, notably, those by Thomas Aquinas and Alasdair MacIntyre.

  6. 6.

    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.

  7. 7.

    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).

  8. 8.

    An insightful discussion of Selznick’s intellectual trajectory and production is offered by Krygier (2012).

References

  1. Alvesson, Mats. 2002. Understanding organizational culture. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Alzola, Miguel. 2012. The possibility of virtue. Business Ethics Quarterly 22: 377–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ansell, Chris, Arjen Boin, and Moshe Farjoun. 2015. Dynamic conservatism: How institutions change to remain the same. In Institutions and ideals: Philip Selznick’s legacy for organizational studies, ed. Matthew S. Kraatz, 89–119. Bingley: Emerald.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Aristotle. 1999. The Nicomachean ethics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Benedict XVI. 2009. Encyclical letter: Caritas in veritate. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

  6. Beschorner, Thomas. 2013. Creating shared value: The one-trick pony approach. Business Ethics Journal Review 1: 106–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Ciulla, Joanne B. 2017. Leadership, virtue, and morality in the miniature. In Handbook of virtue ethics in business and management, eds. Alejo José G. Sison, Gregory R. Beabout, and Ignacio Ferrero, 941–949. Dordrecht: Springer.

  8. Cohen, Elaine. 2010. CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices. Sheffield: Greenleaf.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Crane, Andrew, Guido Palazzo, Laura J. Spence, and Dirk Matten. 2014. Contesting the value of ‘creating shared value’. California Management Review 56: 130–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. De los Reyes Gastón, Markus Scholz, and N. Craig Smith. 2017. Beyond the ‘win-win’: Creating shared value requires ethical frameworks. California Management Review 59: 142–167.

  11. Engelland, Brian T. 2018. Team building, virtue, and personal flourishing in organizations. In Personal flourishing in organizations, ed. Juan A. Mercado, 171–189. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Formisano, Vincenzo, Maria Fedele, and Mario Calabrese. 2017. Materiality matrix: A comparison between relevant indicators for banks and stakeholder. In Conference Proceedings, 263–278, 20th Excellence in services international conference. Verona: University of Verona.

  13. Francis. 2015. Encyclical letter: Laudato si. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Gagliardi, Pasquale. 1990. Artifacts as pathways and remains of organizational life. In Symbols and artifacts: Views of the corporate landscape, ed. Pasquale Gagliardi, 3–38. Berlin: de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Gahl, Robert A. 2018. Time, story, corporate self-understanding, and personal accomplishment. In Personal flourishing in organizations, ed. Juan A. Mercado, 37–47. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Gorski, Philip. 2017. Human flourishing and human morphogenesis: A critical realist interpretation and critique. In Morphogenesis and human flourishing, ed. Margaret S. Archer, 29–43. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Greenwood, Michelle. 2012. Ethical analyses of HRM: A review and research agenda. Journal of Business Ethics 111: 1–12.

  18. Greenwood, Michelle, and Helen De Cieri. 2007. Stakeholder theory and the ethics of human resource management. In Human resource management ethics and employment, eds. Ashly Pinnington, Rob Macklin, and Tom Campbell, 119–136. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  19. Guillén, Manuel. 2018. Creating better human motivation theories for personal flourishing in organizations. In Personal flourishing in organizations, ed. Juan A. Mercado, 49–65. Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Jamali, Dima R., Ali M. El Dirani, and Ian A. Harwood. 2014. Exploring human resource management roles in corporate social responsibility: The CSR-HRM co-creation model. Business Ethics 24: 125–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. John XXIII. 1961. Encyclical letter: Mater et magistra. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

  22. John Paul II. 1981. Encyclical letter: Laborem exercens. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

  23. John Paul II. 1991. Encyclical letter: Centesimus annus. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

  24. Johnson, Lyman P.Q., Michael Naughton, and William Bojan. 2013. Rethinking how business purpose is taught in Catholic business education. Journal of Catholic Higher Education 32: 59–81.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Jones, Peter, Daphne Comfort, and David Hillier. 2016. Materiality in corporate sustainability reporting within UK retailing. Journal of Public Affairs 16: 81–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Khan, Mozaffar, George Serafeim, and Aaron Yoon. 2016. Corporate sustainability: First evidence on materiality. The Accounting Review 91: 1697–1724.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kochan, Thomas A. 2007. Social legitimacy of the HRM profession: A US perspective. In The Oxford handbook of human resource management, eds. Peter Boxall, John Purcell, and Patrick M. Wright, 599–619. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  28. Krygier, Martin. 2012. Philip Selznick: Ideals in the world. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Martin, Joanne. 2002. Organizational culture: Mapping the terrain. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Meglich, Patricia. 2017. Virtue ethics in employee relations. In Handbook of virtue ethics in business and management, eds. Alejo José G. Sison, Gregory R. Beabout, and Ignacio Ferrero, 1207–1215. Dordrecht: Springer.

  31. Melé, Domènec. 2003a. The challenge of humanistic management. Journal of Business Ethics 44: 77–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Melé, Domènec. 2003b. Organizational humanizing cultures: Do they generate social capital? Journal of Business Ethics 45: 3–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Melé, Domènec. 2012. The firm as a ‘community of persons’: A pillar of humanistic business ethos. Journal of Business Ethics 106: 89–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Mercado, Juan A. 2018a. Preface. In Personal flourishing in organizations, ed. Juan A. Mercado, v-vi. Dordrecht: Springer.

  35. Mercado, Juan A. 2018b. How close are contemporary ideas on human flourishing and the classical philosophy of man? In Personal flourishing in organizations, ed. Juan A. Mercado, 11–35. Dordrecht: Springer.

  36. Monge, Rosemarie, and Michael Naughton. 2017. The divided life: A serious challenge to virtuous work. In Handbook of virtue ethics in business and management, eds. Alejo José G. Sison, Gregory R. Beabout, and Ignacio Ferrero, 929–937. Dordrecht: Springer.

  37. Moore, Geoff. 2005. Corporate character: Modern virtue ethics and the virtuous corporation. Business Ethics Quarterly 15: 659–685.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Moore, Geoff. 2015. Corporate character, corporate virtues. Business Ethics 24: 99–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Moore, Geoff, and Ron Beadle. 2006. In search of organizational virtue in business: Agents, goods, practices, institutions and environments. Organization Studies 27: 369–389.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Moore, Geoff, Ron Beadle, and Anna Rowlands. 2014. Catholic social teaching and the firm. Crowding in virtues: A MacIntyrean approach to business ethics. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 88: 779–805.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Morgeson, Frederick P., Herman Aguinis, David A. Waldeman, and Donald S. Siegel. 2013. Extending corporate social responsibility research to the human resource management and organizational behavior domains: A look to the future. Personnel Psychology 66: 805–824.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Naughton, Michael. 2006. The corporation as a community of work: Understanding the firm within the Catholic social tradition. Ave Maria Law Review 4: 33–75.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Naughton, Michael. 2015. Thinking institutionally about business: Seeing its nature as a community of persons and its purpose as the common good. In Humanism in economics and business: Perspectives of the Catholic social tradition, eds. Domènec Melé and Martin Schlag, 179–199. Dordrecht: Springer.

  44. Naughton, Michael, and Gene R. Laczniak. 1993. A theological context of work from the Catholic social encyclical tradition. Journal of Business Ethics 12: 981–994.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Neubert, Mitchell J., Dawn S. Carlson, K. Michele Kacmar, James A. Roberts, and Lawrence B. Chonko. 2009. The virtuous influence of ethical leadership behavior: Evidence from the field. Journal of Business Ethics 90: 157–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Paul VI. 1967. Encyclical letter: Populorum progressio. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

  47. PCJP – Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. 2004. Compendium of the social doctrine of the church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

    Google Scholar 

  48. PCJP – Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. 2014. Vocation of the business leader: A reflection. Vatican City and St. Paul, MN: PCJP and John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought.

  49. Peterson, Christopher, and Martin Seligman. 2004. Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York and Washington, DC: Oxford University Press and American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Porter, Michael E., and Mark R. Kramer. 2011. Creating shared value. Harvard Business Review 89: 62–77.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Puroila, Jenni, and Hannele Mäkelä. 2019. Matter of opinion: Exploring the socio-political nature of materiality disclosures in sustainability reporting. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 32: 1043–1072.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Raffaeli, Ryan, and Mary Ann Glynn. 2015. What’s so institutional about leadership? Leadership mechanisms of value infusion. In Institutions and ideals: Philip Selznick’s legacy for organizational studies, ed. Matthew S. Kraatz, 283–316. Bingley: Emerald.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Salamanca, Alejandro Moreno. 2015. Managing people humanly: Some Catholic social teaching considerations for human resource management. Paper presented at the 9th International conference on Catholic social thought and management education. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University.

  54. Sandelands, Lloyd. 2009. The business of business is the human person: Lessons from the Catholic social tradition. Journal of Business Ethics 85: 93–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Schein, Edgar H. 2017. Organizational culture and leadership. 5th ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Schuler, Randall S., and Susan E. Jackson, eds. 2007. Strategic human resource management. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Selznick, Philip. 1957. Leadership in administration: A sociological interpretation. New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Selznick, Philip. 1992. The moral commonwealth: Social theory and the promise of community. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Selznick, Philip. 2000. On sustaining research agendas: Their moral and scientific basis. Journal of Management Inquiry 9: 277–282.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Sison, G. Alejo José, and Joan Fontrodona. 2012. The common good of the firm in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition. Business Ethics Quarterly 22: 211–246.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Solomon, Robert C. 2004. Aristotle, ethics and business organizations. Organization Studies 25: 1021–1043.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Ulrich, Dave. 1997. Human resource champions: The next agenda for adding value and delivering results. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Ulrich, Dave, and Wayne Brockbank. 2005. The HR value proposition. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Unerman, Jeffrey, and Franco Zappettini. 2014. Incorporating materiality considerations into analyses of absence from sustainability reporting. Social and Environmental Accountability Journal 34: 172–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Valentine, Sean. 2017. The case for considering virtue ethics in organizational ethics and human resource management. In Handbook of virtue ethics in business and management, eds. Alejo José G. Sison, Gregory R. Beabout, and Ignacio Ferrero, 1165–1173. Dordrecht: Springer.

  66. Voegtlin, Christian, and Michelle Greenwood. 2016. Corporate social responsibility and human resource management: A systematic review and conceptual analysis. Human Resource Management Review 26: 181–197.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Washington, Marvin, Kimberly Boal, and John Davis. 2008. Institutional leadership: Past, present, and future. In Handbook of organizational institutionalism, eds. Royston Greenwood, Christine Oliver, Roy Suddaby, and Kerstin Sahlin-Andersson, 719–733. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

  68. Weaver, Gary R. 2006. Virtue in organizations: Moral identity as a foundation for moral agency. Organization Studies 27: 341–368.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Weaver, Gary R. 2017. Organizations and the development of virtue. In Handbook of virtue ethics in business and management, eds. Alejo José G. Sison, Gregory R. Beabout, and Ignacio Ferrero, 613–622. Dordrecht: Springer.

  70. Winstanley, Diana, and Jean Woodall, eds. 2000. Ethical issues in contemporary human resource management. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Wright, Thomas A., and Jerry Goodstein. 2007. Character is not dead in management research: A review of individual character and organizational-level virtue. Journal of Management 33: 928–958.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Zamagni, Stefano. 2013. Impresa responsabile e mercato civile. Bologna: Il Mulino.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Massimiliano Monaci.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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

Download citation

Keywords

  • Organizational humanizing cultures
  • Institutional leadership
  • Human resource management
  • Moral identity in organizations
  • Catholic social thought
  • Common good
  • Philip Selznick