Disturbing Business Ethics: Emmanuel Levinas and the Politics of Organization, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Disturbing Business Ethics

Emmanuel Levinas and the Politics of Organization, 1st Edition

By Carl Rhodes


224 pages

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Hardback: 9780367142872
pub: 2019-08-09
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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 of 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 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.

Table of Contents


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


About the Author

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.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Business Ethics

Business ethics is a site of contestation, both in theory and practice. For some it serves as a salve for the worst effects of capitalism, giving businesses the means self-regulate away from entrenched tendencies of malfeasance and exploitation. For others business ethics is a more personal matter, concerning the way that individuals can effectively wade through the moral quagmires that characterise so many dimensions of business life. Business ethics has also been conceived of as a fig leaf designed to allow business-as-usual to continue while covering over the less savoury practices so as to create an appearance of righteousness.

Across these and other approaches, what remains critical is to ensure that the ethics of business is the subject of incisive questioning, critical research, and diverse theoretical development. It is through such scholarly inquiry that the increasingly powerful purview of corporations and business activity can be interrogated, understood and, ultimately, reformulated. This series contributes to that goal by publishing the latest research and thinking across the broad terrain that characterised business ethics.

The series welcomes contributions in areas including: corporate social responsibility; critical approaches to business ethics; ethics and corporate governance; ethics and diversity; feminist ethics; globalization and business ethics; philosophical traditions of business ethics; postcolonialism and the ethics of business; production and supply chain ethics; resistance, political activism and ethics; sustainability, environmentalism and climate change; the ethics of corporate misconduct; the politics of business ethics; and worker’s rights.

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