The use of non-secular, religious, concepts in contemporary managerial discourse to legitimise leadership, organisation and work has been undertheorised. Concepts such as organisational soul, Spiritual Leadership, a wider deification (and demonisation) of leaders, and the mantra of individual freedom each evoke long religio-historical roots. The deployment of such terms in the present to (re)enrol people into the service of capitalism speaks both to high levels of religious belief worldwide and, more specifically, to a history of religion intersecting with public life in the US—a context pivotal in the development and dissemination of managerialism and wider neoliberal discourse.
Organised around the concepts of Gods, Devils, Soul and the Individual this book will show how these concepts are being employed in current managerial, leadership and organisation discourses, critically examine the religio-historical and philosophical roots of such, and demonstrate how the religio-historical and religio-philosophical can be brought into the lexicon of critical organisational scholarship to provide a language to engage with the non-secular legitimation of capitalism and its institutions.
In so doing, this book is a timely addition to organisation and management theory. It comes at a time that is witnessing a wider ‘theological turn’ in continental philosophy, mounting calls within organisation studies to ‘take religion seriously’, and an ongoing legitimation crisis of neoliberalism, one that is raising pivotal questions concerning how neoliberalism endures despite the deprivations and harms it occasions. This book is intended to be engaging and erudite, drawing upon a trans-disciplinary combination of popular and academic management texts, contemporary and classical philosophy, literature and religio-historical sources foundational in the construction of the Western subject.
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Gods
Chapter Three: Devils
Chapter Four: Soul
Chapter Five: The Individual
Chapter Six: Conclusion
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.