1st Edition

Disturbing Business Ethics Emmanuel Levinas and the Politics of Organization

By Carl Rhodes Copyright 2020
    148 Pages
    by Routledge

    148 Pages
    by Routledge

    21st century Western neoliberalism has seen the transformation of self-interest from an economic imperative to a centrally constitutive part of dominant modes of subjective existence. Against this celebration of competitive individualism, Emmanuel Levinas’ philosophy stands as a haunting reminder of an ethics that passively disturbs the self from its egoistic slumber, awakening it to the incessant demands of the other. Ethics stands as an anxious affective state of being where one is held to account by others, each one demanding care, attention and respect. Focussing on business activities and organizations, this book explores how this ethical demand of being for the other becomes translated, in a necessarily impure way, into political action, contestation and resistance. Such a response to ethics invokes a disturbance of organizational order, including an order that might itself be labelled ‘ethical’. On these grounds, the book offers an explication of an ethics for organizations which disturbs the selfishness of neoliberal morality, and can inform a democratic politics rested on a genuine concern for the other and for justice.

    Disturbing Business Ethics: Emmanuel Levinas and the Politics of Organization offers an unconventional and enlightening approach to ethical thinking and practice in politics and organisations, and will be of interest to students of business, management, leadership, political science and organizational theory.


    1. Organizational Disturbance and the Politics of a Passive Ethics

    2. Anarchic Ethics, Dissent and the Deinstitutionalization of Market Morality

    3. Affectivity and the Unanswerable Question of Just Leadership

    4. Justice, Politics and Workplace Diversity Beyond a Pure Ethics

    5. Radical Democracy, Ethics and The Disruption of Corporate Sovereignty

    6. Difficult Freedom and the Saying of a Critical Business Ethics



    Carl Rhodes is Professor of Organization Studies at the University of Technology Sydney Business School. Carl’s research investigates the ethical and political condition in which contemporary organizations operate and its relationship with their behaviour. Current projects focus on cultural and gender diversity and discrimination in leadership, and business practice’s vexed association with democracy and justice. This work draws extensively on post-structuralist ethical traditions, most especially as they relate to the work of Emmanuel Levinas and his interlocutors. Carl’s most recent books are CEO Society: The Corporate Takeover of Everyday Life (Zed, 2018 with Peter Bloom), and The Companion to Ethics and Politics in Organizations (Routledge, 2015 with Alison Pullen). Carl’s academic work can also be found in journals such as Organization Studies, Human Relations, The Business Ethics Quarterly, The Journal of Business Ethics and Gender, Work and Organization. He regularly contributes to the media with articles and commentary on issues related to ethics, politics and business.