Management as a Practice

  • Denis Anthony (Tony) O’MalleyEmail author
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 38)


Modern society depends for most purposes on managed organisations. The character of the managers and the value commitments of the organisations have profound implications for the moral and material development of society. Virtue ethics emphasise the development of moral character through the pursuit of excellence in a practice. Virtue ethics provide guidelines for managers and boards who seek integrity and excellence in the institutions that they govern. This chapter reviews examples of management best practice, from the literature and from exemplary businesses, and assesses them against the definition and characteristics of a practice advanced by Alasdair MacIntyre (After virtue, Duckworth, London, 1985, 187). The review suggests that management, when exercising virtue and pursuing excellence, might achieve MacIntyre’s criteria for a practice, on occasion. In order to contribute to the moral development of society, institutions would need to commit to the development of the moral character of their people as a primary goal, and management would need to commit to excellence in those central practices of the institution which deliver the mission and so sustain the integrity of the institution.


Ethical Leadership Virtue Ethic Moral Character Quality Work Internal Good 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Australian Institute of Management (AIM). 2010. Guides to good management practice. Accessed 4 May 2010.
  2. Collins Australian compact dictionary. 1985. Krebs, W. A. (Ed). London: Collins.Google Scholar
  3. Collins, James C., and Jerry L. Porras. 1994, 1997. Built to last: Successful habits of visionary companies. New York: Harper-Collins (HarperBusiness).Google Scholar
  4. Deming, W.Edwards. 1986. Out of the crisis. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Centre for Advanced Engineering Study.Google Scholar
  5. Drucker, Peter F. 1974. Management: Tasks responsibilities practices. London: Heineman.Google Scholar
  6. Goldman, Harvey. 2005. Good work, from homer to the present. Dædalus 134(3): 36–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goldratt, Eliyahu M., and Jeff Cox. 1992. The goal. New York: North River.Google Scholar
  8. Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. 2009. What would peter say? Harvard Business Review 87(11): 64–70.Google Scholar
  9. Khurana, Rakesh, and Nitin Nohria. 2008. It’s time to make management a true profession. Harvard Business Review 56(8): 70–77.Google Scholar
  10. Knights, David, and Majella O’Leary. 2006. Leadership, ethics and responsibility to the other. Journal of Business Ethics 67: 125–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. MacIntyre, Alasdair. 1985. After virtue. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  12. Mintzberg, Henry. 1989. Mintzberg on management. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  13. Mishra, Aneil K., Karen E. Mishra, and Gretchen M. Spreitzer. 2009. Downsizing the company without downsizing morale. MIT Sloan Management Review 50(3): 39–44.Google Scholar
  14. Moore, Geoff. 2008. Re-imagining the morality of management: A modern virtue ethics approach. Business Ethics Quarterly 18(4): 483–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Peters, Thomas J., and Robert H. Waterman Jr. 1982, 2004. In search of excellence. London: Harper (Profile Books).Google Scholar
  16. Solomon, Robert C. 2003. Victims of circumstances? A defense of virtue ethics in business. Business Ethics Quarterly 13(1): 43–62. Published by Philosophy Documentation Centre. Stable URL:
  17. Womack, James P., and Daniel T. Jones. 1996, 2003. Lean thinking. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  18. Womack, James P., Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos. 1990. The machine that changed the world. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

Personalised recommendations