Learn more about our ongoing "Good Organisations Inquiry" and the evolving model

Jump to


The Good Organisation inqury

We are constantly developing our Good Work theory. Interest from researchers is highly welcome!


The Good Organisation inquiry is a pro bono initiative of “engaged scholarship”, in partnership with the University of St. Gallen (a Top 5 European Business School). The aim is to inspire the ethical transformation of organisations, by revising and reforming standards and best practices for responsible business governance and management, as well as leadership education.

The project has four focus areas: a) Foundational research in organizational science and ethics; b) Certification and development of best practices for good organisations; c) Professional qualification and education for wisdom-centric leadership; d) Regulation and policy development for a good economy.

We believe today's world is complex and defies simple answers. Unsurprisingly, recipes for Organisations pursue idiosyncratic aims and must survive in the market. Yet, together, they can also become inspirational and responsible agents of a sustainable and shared prosperity for all. This requires us to move beyond organisational agility, striving for true excellence.

Such “organisational goodness" can be operationalised on three levels, by: (a) the organisation as a virtuous actor in society and ecosystem; (b) the organisation as a container for collective flourishing through community enablement and virtuous practices; (c) the organisation as a trustee for authentic and creative self-expression, personal (moral) development and individual thriving.

Our exploration is focused on bridging philosophy, psychology, economics, political and management science to understand how to craft good organisations that enable a "good society". But what exactly is a “good" organisation? What does it mean to be good, and why? How can we measure goodness? Further, how do organisations become good? What are the most important levers, practices and initiatives to enable collective flourishing? What are those “bad” organisational practices we should abolish right away? Also, what is stopping our organisations to become good in our current economic system? What does all of it mean for leadership? And finally, if we have any answers, how could we stimulate a wider movement for better business?

We believe most transformation in business require courageous leaders to instigate and sponsor change. Hence, we want to engage with and offer our insights to organisational leaders who are willing to experiment and grow themselves and their teams. Our website is intended to be a learning hub that nurtures and co-evolves a shared narrative, offers best practices and supports the development of a virtuous community of leadership professionals.

Case Studies Wanted: if you have suggestions for good organisations, or good leaders - or if you have come across relevant ratings and rankings, or are reasearcher in an adjacent area - please get in touch via our contact form!

Our research

Current PhD Research Projects

A Truly Trans-disciplinary Approach

We strongly believe that our exploration must integrate diverse disciplines in order to generate true insights and have impact - like politics, economics, philosophy, psychology, management science, neuroscience, sociology and anthropology, complexity and system thinking, just to name a few. And we need to bring together academics, consultants and coaches, and experienced practitioners. In case you are interested in joining the group, just send us a note via our contact form below.

Our Research Projects

Good Organisation index

We are developing an index to support the measurement, comparison, development and certification of good organisations. We are inspired by initiatives like ECG and bCorp. You can read more about some comparisons of existing rankings in our blog (Economy section).

Contact: Silvio Christoffel

moral leadership

What are moral exemplars made of and how do they use rhetoric to inspire others and move them to moral action? Drawing on moral philosophy and moral psychology, this project aims at exploring the moral profile of moral examplars (and activists) in organizations and their journey towards excellence. Additionally, borrowing concepts from both classical ("the art of persuasion through words") and new ("how words shape reality and convey meaning") rhetoric, it explores how moral suasion and moral followership unfolds.

Contact: Sara Fontanet

From Competence to Excellence: The Impact of 'Practical Wisdom' on Leadership Decision-Making 

This dissertation project explores the critical role of effective decision-making for leaders in today's complex world. It introduces the concept of "practical wisdom," drawing from ancient Greek philosophy, as a key element. The objective is to develop a comprehensive measurement tool to assess leaders' practical wisdom, treating it as a multidimensional concept with five components. Through this research, we aim to identify and promote fundamental virtues and competencies, illuminating their significance in decision-making and leadership effectiveness. The outcomes will drive the development of targeted training programs to cultivate practical wisdom among leaders.

Contact: Nelly Ovcharova


More to come soon

Our Leaders For Humanity Interview Series

"Leading for good"

We believe today's world is complex and defies simple answers. Yet, rather than increasing our collective capacity for wisdom and critical thinking it seems we have gradually diminished it. Rather than asking deeper questions, we reify efficiency and financial returns. Rather than integrating our learning, we have increasingly siloed knowledge – between academia and practice, scientific disciplines, philosophy and business. Rather than deepening our understanding of the humanities, we have almost exclusively put our trust in technology.

Unsurprisingly, then, recipes for societal and organisational transformation are often fragmented, unethical, or not based on best evidence. At the same time, our challenges are rapidly growing and we need to support the lifelong development of leaders with credible practices to reform organisations and develop appropriate institutions for wider societal change.

In our interview series “Leaders for Humanity” we ask global thought leaders three simple questions: a) What is Good?, b) What is a Good Organisation?, c) How can we become Good, individually and collectively? Our hope is that, over time, these dialogues will help to shape and guide our evolving narrative. 

For each interview you will find pre-readings and transcripts, pointers to further work, and our notes. Hopefully you will enjoy the sessions as much as we do!

OUR evolving model

Latest Updates On Our Good Organisations Inquiry & Theory

2021 China Organisational Evolution Forum
Teal Around the World
Why TEAL is WRONG. Utopia for Corporate Realists
HR Congress
Talking About a Fifth Revolution
Eco-Leadership Institute
Wisdom in leadership - INITIAL reflections
HR Congress World Summit 2022
Leaders for Humanity and The Future of Work

Foundational Research and Key Publications

Stop The Suffering: Good Organizations Wanted!

Stop The Suffering: Good Organizations Wanted!

After 50 years of “new work” and countless restructurings, agile transformations and yoga classes, we appear to be stuck in a hellish swamp of good intentions: better work remains squarely out of sight…Our organizations are still more often suffering machines than wellsprings of well-being; mental health in the workplace, according to an ILO survey, has decreased almost everywhere in the world, and correlated physical illnesses like heart attacks are on the rise.

Foundational Research (Third-Party)

 Philosophical or political level

"Which Variety of Virtue Ethics" a paper by Annas (2017)

As interest in virtue ethics has grown, various accounts, including neo-Aristotelian, target-centered, exemplarist, agent-based, and sentimentalist perspectives, alongside those rooted in Kantian and utilitarian theories, have emerged. While this diversity enriches the field, it raises the challenge of evaluating and comparing these versions. This paper, thus, unfolds a comparative project by (briefly) setting out two versions of virtue ethics and asking how well they compare in responding to some tasks and expectations of ethical theory.

Archer, M.S., (1995), Realist social theory: The morphogenetic approach, Cambridge university press

Political economic perspective

"Civil Economy: A New Approach to the Market in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution" a paper by Zamagni (2018)

The article urges an urgent reexamination of market economy foundations and explores differences between civil and capitalist market models. It addresses the resurgence of the civil economy concept in public discourse and scientific research over the past quarter-century, emphasizing its relevance in navigating the challenges posed by the fourth industrial revolution and transhumanism. The article ends with an invitation to transcend the contradictions of the culture of libertarian individualism.

"Meaningful Work, Chapter 4" a book by Veltman (2016)

Veltman develops a eudaimonistic theory about work. In her words "work absorbs a substantial portion of our waking hours and provides prime opportunities to develop and exercise abilities in contributing purposefully to communities. What happens at work also affects work- ers both on and off the job: work can drain and damage people, or work can be a source of fulfillment and self-development. The questions “what contribution does work make to a good life?” “what kinds of work enhance or undermine human flourishing?” and “how should communities structure work to support human well-being?” thus appear important for theories of human flourishing and social justice."

Management and organisational behaviour

While we deviate to some degree from the virtues-goods-practice-institution schema provided by MacInyre (1984) we still rely heavily on its core assumptions (in the main link you find the seminal version of Beadle and Moore from 2006). In addition, though, we follow Tsoukas (2018), who in his article on strategy and virtue provides a helpful reconceptualization of the institution which involves "competitive institutional practice," involving "values articulation work" and "balancing work". Another helpful article to tie the VPI model to the common good and a dynamic (embedded) economic theory is written by Arjoon (2000).

"Self-Managing Organizations: Exploring the Limits of Less-Hierarchical Organizing" a paper by Lee/Edmonsdon (2017)

This paper surveys literature on less-hierarchical organizing, categorizing research into post-bureaucratic organizations, humanistic management, and organizational democracy. Despite previous extensive work, scholarly understanding of radical decentralization is limited. Proposing the term "self-managing organizations" for formal, systematic authority decentralization, we present a research agenda to deepen insights into less-hierarchical organizing.

"Collaboration as an organization design for shared purpose" a paper by Adler/Heckscher (2018)

“Shared purpose,” a widespread commitment to an organization's core mission, enhances performance by motivating and guiding joint problem-solving efforts. Yet, little is known about the organizational design supporting shared purpose in large, complex enterprises. Drawing from Selznick and Weber, a new form called collaborative is proposed, rooted in Weber’s value-rational social action but surpassing scale limitations of the collegial form. Four principles characterizing this collaborative form and managerial policies for their implementation are suggested.

"Organizational Identity, Formation and Change" a paper by Gioia et al (2013)

Beginning with an extensive review of the literature on organizational identity change, the focus is on the three pillars: centrality, endurance, and distinctiveness. A significant debate surrounds the stability of identity over time (the “enduring identity proposition”) versus its changeability (the “dynamic identity proposition”). Shifting to a smaller body of work on identity formation, examination of external influences and internal resources in shaping a nascent identity is conducted. Delving into controversies surrounding identity pillars, assessment of prevalent organizational identity views is undertaken, along with synthesis of research on both identity formation and change.

We rely on a number of concepts developed by POS. First, it helps us to frame (relational) energy - here thriving and high quality connections are of great interest. Second, we like the virtue framing approaches, for instance in compassion organising, which open new avenues for organisational development. Finally, we owe some of our own conceptualization of the good organisation to the synergistic perspective put forward in an article by Bright et al. (2014) who bridges POS with virtue ethics.

Leadership Development, Transformation and Education

Torbert, W., Collaborative Developmental Action Inquiry, https://www.williamrtorbert.com/resources/cdai-cyber-library/

"First-, Second-, and Third Person Research in Practice" a paper by Trullen/Torbert (2016)

By being intentional about the ways in which we engage in such an inquiry and becoming “action researchers” of our own experience, we can go beyond our deeply ingrained defense mechanisms to create new possibilities for action. The first-, second-, and third-person research framework introduced below —the theoretical underpinnings of which are described in Torbert (2000) and Chandler and Torbert (2003)—is intended to help us integrate research and practice in ourselves, our teams, and our organizations.

Kegan, R. (1983), The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development

Narvaez, D. et al. (2000), A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach to Morality Research 

"Leadership and identity: an examination of three theories and new research directions" a paper by Ibarra et al. (2014)

Identity has emerged as a potent force in understanding leadership. This chapter reviews the contributions of role identity, social identity, and social construction theories toward comprehending the emergence, effectiveness, and development of leaders. In recent years leadership scholars have combined two or more of these identity theories to conceptualize and study a range of phenomena including transitions into leadership roles. Further research attention is needed, in particular the process by which non-prototypical leaders emerge, lead effectively, and develop; leader identities in contemporary settings characterized by globally distributed teams and multiple leadership roles; and identity evolution in the context of the life cycle of a leadership career.

"Phronesis and the Knowledge-Action Gap in Moral Psychology and Moral Education: A New Synthesis?" a paper by Darnell et al (2019)

As phronesis is a multicomponent construct, this article delineates its various components, providing a necessary precursor for potential empirical examination. The concept of a neo-Aristotelian multicomponent solution to the “gappiness problem” is compared with the neo-Kohlbergian four-component model, emphasizing the theoretical distinctiveness of the phronesis-based multicomponent model. In addition, the article suggests that operationalizing the phronesis model for instrument design and empirical inquiry within a neo-Aristotelian framework is both feasible and potentially fruitful.

"A New Big Five: Fundamental Principles for and Integrative Science of Personality" a paper by Pals/McAdams (2006)

A comprehensive framework for understanding the whole person remains elusive. This article aims to fill that gap by drawing on promising empirical and theoretical trends to propose five big principles for an integrative science of the whole person. Personality is conceptualized as an individual's unique variation on the general evolutionary design for human nature, expressed through dispositional traits, characteristic adaptations, and self-defining life narratives, all intricately situated in culture and social context. These principles offer a framework for integrating the Big Five model of personality traits with self-defining features of psychological individuality shaped by social tasks and the human need to make meaning in culture.


Insights for Students and practitioners of Leadership

More coming soon.

Good Leadership Foundations Course

A Hunt for good organisations

Join us in a 3-month global expedition to unearth the world's Good Organizations! Are you an MBA or business student eager to explore the transformative power of purpose-driven companies? This project is your passport to a journey where you'll dive deep into the concept of Good Organizations, learn about their unique approaches to work, and uncover the secrets to their success.

In a small team it will be your challenge to embark on a sprint to identify one of these exceptional organizations, connect with their key stakeholders, conduct in-depth interviews, and finally, craft a compelling case study that showcase the essence of Good Organizations. This adventure is your opportunity not only to discover the companies that genuinely prioritize well-being, community, and human flourishing over profits, but also to fundamentally reexamine your own role in business, and the legacy you are going to leave.

Are you up for the challenge? Join the quest and be part of a global movement reshaping the future of work!

(Sponsored by Duke University, US and St. Gallen University, Switzerland)

The next global hunt for good organizations commences in November 2023! Find out more in our Hunt for Good Organisations course hub (FOR PARTICIPANTS ONLY)!


THe Good leadership society top 100 best books

Based on a panel of experts, and feedback from the community, we regularly select the 100 most compelling leadership books. Our intention is to provide a list of inspirational readings that can deepen a critical understanding of leadership related topics, in five categories

  • Moral philosophy and business ethics
  • Good Economy
  • Development of Good Organisations
  • Good Leadership Development
  • Business Transformation


Conferences, Interviews and Podcasts


CoachingOurselves Fireside Chat
A stimulating conversation with PhilLeNir
Coaching Ourselves: Fireside Chat on Good Organisations
Being Human
Conversation with Richard Atherton
Sparking the Virtue Revolution
Erno HanninkShow #327
Finding Good Companies
Living Room Conversations
Conversation between Rhea and Antoinette
Tackling the Elephant of Performance Management
HR Congress
We are not leaders. because we rule. We are leaders, because we truly care.
Talking About a Fifth Revolution
ING Interview
Otti Vogt leaves ING after 5 years as COO to help building back better
Otti Vogt leavING ING
Trust Rocks
Management for Radicals
Conversation with Michele Zanini and Otti Vogt
Management for Radicals
A Dream
Discussion with Daniela Fehring
What World Would you Like to Live in 2030?
leadershape podcast
The Fifth Revolution
Oracle Swiss Event
The Robots, HR and Ethical Challenges
my talk starts at minute 8 - and you will hear something about the Borgs and Trust...
Self-Leadership Couch
Gespräch mit Kollektiv Y
Gute Arbeit in guten Organisationen
Never miss out on new videos and interviews! Just go to YouTube and subscribe to our Good Organisations channel for all upcoming interviews and all our new videos!