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Homo Economicus is Dead — Long Live Homo Cooperativus!

Before embarking on the journey, please read our piece about the need for a new paradigm to create good work and flourishing organisations.

can businesses create good work? (Click on the icon for pdf)

We have looked everywhere - the infamous 'homo economicus' has gone missing like Ötzi the Iceman! This abstract model of men who act and decide solely based on rational calculation of benefits and costs, and who are exclusively guided by self-interest, or even greed and guile, exists mostly in the heads of economists (who, by the way, are 80% male!) and corporate finance departments. Behavioural economists, anthropologists and psychologists have proven and re-proven in experiments and field studies all over the world that humans naturally "care about fairness and reciprocity"; are "willing to change the distribution of material outcomes at personal expense"; and "are inclined to reward those who act in a cooperative manner while punishing those who do not" - notwithstanding the cost to themselves (Henrich et al 2001). As it happens, even in so-called "one-shot" games with complete strangers, positive mutual interactions quickly emerge…

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What is Good Work?

Learning Journey

As we confront the shortcomings of CSR, we explore the deeper ontological and ethical foundations of what makes organizations truly good. We examine how different ideologies inform our notions of justice and goodness, and how they manifest within businesses. Delving beneath the surface, we uncover the complex mechanisms that shape organizational character. Exploring innovative organizational designs such as rendanheyi and humanocracy, we critically assess their potential to cultivate responsibility. We introduce the concept of the "good organization" — a paradigm that integrates virtue ethics and the pursuit of flourishing with traditional goals of business efficiency and agility, moving beyond superficial measures like codes of conduct, annual reporting and compliance rules. We understand how principles of virtue and practical wisdom are operationalised in values, structures, and interpersonal dynamics. Ultimately, we aim to identify one CGO that exemplifies genuine commitment to business excellence for good.

Core Concepts (click icons to jump to discovery)

What is "good work"? (7)

What does it mean to enable 'good' work? How does flourishing differ from happiness, well-being or welfare?

Are innovative organisations always better? (8)

Make yourself familiar and "browse" through concepts such as sociocracy, holacracy, rendanheyi, teal and others. Ask yourself what practical and ethical challenges these are facing.

How to craft good organisations? (9)

What are some initial ideas to "operationalize" goodness in organisations, to enable social flourishing and a 'good life through and at work'?

How can we detect if organisations are genuinely good?

Based on all of the above, note down some personal reflections in your journal.

Good Organisations in 10 Minutes: From Agility to Excellence

chapter 3: the quest for good organisations

Our Perspective On Core Concepts

“The firm is not only a money making machine. That is a reductionist perspective. The firm is above all a political agent: an agent of positive transformation of the context and reality in which the company operates.” ― Stefano Zamagni

Flourishing By Design?

The inconvenient truth is that the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement, in many cases, has failed miserably. What we witness today is nothing short of purpose-washing—a desperate attempt to slap a shiny veneer of social consciousness on organizations that continue, at their core, to be driven by profit above all else. Adding solar panels to the roof of our head offices might change the optics, but won't change the destruction of the environment. Hiring Purpose Officers or linking executive bonuses to ESG ratings will not stop the exploitation of workers. Adding free yoga classes won't magically fix what's fundamentally broken and look mostly like a cynical ploy to maintain the status quo.

As we journey deeper into our quest for good organisations, it becomes increasingly clear that embodying responsibility isn't a straightforward task. Many of the popular alternatives to capitalism fall short in addressing the core issues we face. Trapped within a neoliberal framework and driven by an instrumental-utilitarian perspective, these approaches often overlook fundamental questions: What is the true purpose of our economy, and how can work truly be considered good?

We firmly believe that the economy is inseparable from society, and therefore its purpose should be to facilitate dignified and meaningful human life within a community. In other words, the economy cannot operate in isolation from moral considerations; its legitimacy is intricately linked to its ability to positively impact society and enable individuals to lead fulfilling lives together. However, asserting moral principles is one thing; translating them into organizational structures is quite another. To bridge this gap, we must solidify our understanding of "social ontology" – how social systems can be conceptualized. From there, we can begin to translate our ethical foundations into principles, structures, and practices that can bring about our vision of social flourishing.

A word of warning: It's important to note that we're now venturing into the realm of philosophy and politics. Many of the questions we're grappling with have puzzled philosophers for centuries, with no clear-cut answers. As such, we cannot promise definitive solutions. Our goal is simply to ignite your curiosity and inspire you to explore further. You'll find a wealth of perspectives in the discovery section below.

✿ CORE Concept 7: what is good work (slides 1-4)

The time has come for us to take a step back. Our businesses have worshipped a seductive narrative of materialism and individualism, where personal freedom, wealth, and possessions are pursued as ultimate goals. We risk losing our humanity in a hubristic treadmill of growth for the sake of growth. So, what do we truly believe in? What do we stand for? Who are we? These questions are both profound and existential. We establish organizations with a purpose, aiming to achieve something together that we couldn't accomplish individually. Yet, fifty years after Milton Friedman famously declared that "the business of business is business," both personal and organizational success must transcend mere financial gains and shareholder value. The question becomes: how do we define "good work"?

Yet, before delving into the realm of work, it's essential to understand what constitutes a "good life." This question falls within the domain of ethics and is far from simple. Modern liberalism often adopts a "thin" conceptualization of the good life, primarily focusing on liberty as the ultimate "omnipurpose" good, particularly in its "negative freedom" interpretation – freedom from interference. However, this can lead to an overly individualistic and materialistic view of society, where freedom becomes synonymous with the ability to freely market oneself. 

We take a different approach, drawing from Aristotelian virtue ethics. Here, a good human life is seen as a final end, and social freedom serves as a means to cultivate ourselves and flourish. Aristotle emphasizes that every individual possesses unique potential and is naturally inclined towards goodness within the right conditions. Personal development as an ongoing practice and communal living are essential components of leading a good life.

So, what implications does this have for work in organizations? To facilitate flourishing, organisations must empower individuals to cultivate their character and identity. Good work, in our view, is a social process that fosters personal growth, capability development, friendships, and a profound sense of significance through recognised contribution to a shared greater good. It involves the vocational pursuit of personal excellence and the gradual realization of our full potential - we are becoming the best people we are meant to be.

Good organizations go beyond providing good work for individual employees; they also cultivate communities that contribute to the flourishing of wider stakeholders and society. In practice, good organisations cultivate organizational excellence at three interrelated levels:

  • As actors in society, businesses become "good" when they operate with honesty and care for their ecosystem, going beyond simply maximizing stakeholder utility, customer satisfaction, or shareholder profits
  • Organizations function as mini-societies, creating the environment for the mutual development of their members within a broader business and social community. By nurturing participation, trust, virtues, and quality relationships, good organizations have the power to "shape" good people
  • Good organizations serve as trustees for individual development, offering opportunities for individuals to deploy their talents and creativity with pride and dignity in their organizational roles while contributing collectively to a greater purpose

In summary, organizations play a crucial role in fostering a just and prosperous society. Good work taps into our collective potential for doing good and enacts our civic humanity. Profit, while important, is not an end in itself and should serve the larger goal of enabling social flourishing and justice.

In this context, we draw inspiration from the insights of Antonio Genovesi, an 18th-century Italian philosopher and economist who, a decade before Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," underscored the link between economic well-being and the moral fabric of society. A good economy must remain embedded between philosophy and politics. While Smith's focus was on the pursuit of individual wealth as the primary driver of economic progress within a self-regulating market, magically adjusted by an "invisible hand", Genovesi's approach prioritises ethics, community, and the common good. He empathizes the significance of civil virtues in economic activities, insisting on the importance of relationships, solidarity, and reciprocity in far from anonymous economic transactions. This stands in vivid contrast to viewing economics as a purely technical or amoral field, as proposed by neoclassical economics. In a civil economy, market participants are encouraged to contribute their personal best to the shared endeavor of building a good society. This collective effort aims to enact fairness, social justice, and sustainability through economic activities, providing an alternative to purely market-driven or state-controlled economic models. It places ethics, virtuous community, and social well-being at the heart of economic decision-making.

Want to learn more? Watch Otti's presentation at the HR World Congress 2022 -

✿ CoRE COncept 8: innovative organisational designs (slide 5-6)

Max Weber highlights that organizations typically shift their focus from shared values, or morality if you want, within relatively homogenous communities to increasingly instrumental structures as they expand. Scaling goodness, therefore, presents a significant challenge. In recent decades, various novel organizational approaches like teal, rendenhayi, holacracy, or sociocracy have risen in popularity. Consequently, we've been delving into these organizations to extract understand whether any of these organizations prioritize non-instrumental values and successfully sustain them while scaling in both size and complexity.

Here, a short detour toward organisational design will be useful. When we design organisations we must carefully balance two levers using both formal and informal structures: On one side, we have differentiation, which creates local autonomy and subsidiarity, and on the other, integration, which fosters global learning, quality, and scale. On that basis, we can identify three very basic organizational archetypes (see slide):

  • Community or cooperative organizations that heavily rely on shared culture and common norms.
  • Bureaucracies that utilize centralized and hierarchical power structures for division and control.
  • Market or platform organizations that emphasize autonomy, entrepreneurship, and transactional exchanges to maximize returns.
On top of these, there is a small and diverse set of approaches that aim to combine the best of both worlds, known as organic models. These are, however, often very challenging to maintain. 

With that in mind, we can now look at some examples from companies that are famous for their innovative organisational models: 

  • ING was one of the early adopters of scaling Agile globally. They primarily focused on reorganizing their development functions to enhance flexibility in product and service development. This model drew inspiration from companies like Spotify and Zappos and later experimented with models like holacracy and sociocracy in their sales and service divisions. They established mechanisms to integrate their business using "obeya" rooms and marketplaces while maintaining a traditional matrix hierarchy.
  • Buurtzorg, a well-known nonprofit Dutch home-care organization, takes decentralization even further. In this case, 15,000 nurses work in 1,000 self-organizing teams. Coordination mechanisms are a combination of formal and informal approaches, relying on strong community norms and sector-specific requirements, rather than traditional hierarchical management. Buurtzorg operates with just 50 managers mainly to support administrative functions.
  • Haier, a Chinese white goods manufacturer, is the world's largest home appliance manufacturer and an exemplary story of agility. Haier dissolved its divisions into 4,000 autonomous micro-enterprises, granting them full control over recruitment, profit and loss, performance, and pay. They utilize sophisticated blockchain-based contracts to create synergies across ecosystems both within and beyond the firm and employ shared platforms to facilitate scalable services.
  • Patagonia represents the poster child of the B-Corp movement. The company revolves around its mission to create the most ethical products and leverage its business to support environmental solutions. Patagonia employs a simple functional structure but relies heavily on leadership involvement, robust employee participation, and a profound sense of belonging.
When we analyzed these these and many other organizations, we noticed several trends. Firstly, there's a universal push towards greater self-organization to enhance adaptiveness across the board. Yet, most "human-centric" design innovation ultimately serves instrumental commercial purposes. Secondly, each organization is heavily shaped by its prevailing legacy mindset – for instance, ING reflects hierarchy and a traditional matrix structure, while Buurtzorg embodies community grounded in professional nursing and care ethics. Haier follows a market model focused on "customer obsession," and Patagonia prioritizes sustainability. We did not observe convergence towards a unified new model, or a substantial combination of instrumental and value-based approaches. Thirdly, there was no evident combination of differentiation and integration towards a paradigm of "inter-independence" or collaborative community. Most organisations either stress the individualistic-entrepreneurial dimension, often through formal design, or a collectivist-caring aspect, often through informal norms. Essentially, creating organizations that effortlessly blend efficiency, adaptiveness, and robust values while nurturing both individuals and communities poses a significant challenge. Our exploration continues, and you'll find additional insightful references below.

✿ CORE CONCEPT 9: how to craft GOOD ORGANISATIONS (slides 7+)
But how can we craft good organisations? Here, another short detour is needed.

1. Before we start, we need to reassess our "social ontology," or more simply put, we need to upgrade our understanding of how organizations behave and undergo change. Most of us have been taught that culture change stems simply from altering the underlying assumptions and values below an organisational surface. Hence, the prevailing idea of culture change —promoted by popular management writers— is that we can kickstart transformation by merely "starting with why," changing mindsets, or embracing concepts like consciousness, teal organizations, or psychological safety. Unfortunately, such an approach is as fashionable as it is oversimplified.

Skipping all the intricate details (you can find more references on the website), we encounter three essential entities within complex social systems: people, culture, and social structures, each wielding their unique powers. Their combined interactions (level 3 in the slide) generate intricate mechanisms that MIGHT, under specific conditions, translate into certain 'actual' constellations (level 2 in the slide) that we (level 1 in the slide) MIGHT detect above the waterline. This underscores that crafting good organizations requires more than just new mindsets, well-crafted purpose statements or 'consciousness'. To shape organizations that truly thrive, attention must be directed to all the foundational elements below the waterline: a) values and culture —such as language, symbols, metrics, and policies; b) structural frameworks, routines, systems, and c) the holistic development of individuals and communities.

2. On that basis, we can now seek to sketch some preliminary themes for a novel good organisation model, rooted in virtue ethics.

  • Values: It's imperative to transition our perspective of organizations, shifting from treating life as instrumental to a human-centered view.
  • Structures: We advocate for the adoption of a "deliberately vocational model" that underscores the intentional development of virtuous social practices within micro-organizations, alongside the evolution of corporate institutions and governance.
  • People (Individuals): Our focus extends beyond mere competencies to encompass character, virtues, and wisdom in individuals.
  • People (Shared Governance): Organizations committed to genuine human-centricity must jointly cultivate a moral environment characterized by care, integrity, and compassion, fostering shared governance and a cohesive external value proposition. Achieving this necessitates an ongoing evolution of organizational design, striking a balance between local affordances, individual growth, and collective learning.
In order to implement such a model, it will be important to overlay the prevailing financial governance with disciplines promoting collective reflection and participation, essentially creating a "living organizational constitution". The ultimate objective is to first develop and connect people, structures, and culture, thus nurturing organizational wisdom, identity, and character, and then, subsequentially, to enable a reflective equilibrium that continually actualizes the organization's potential - within its specific context - to actualise social flourishing.

Put differently, we believe that organisations must learn to care and be intentional about their moral climate exactly like they have learned to care for the environmental climate. This implies:

  • even more focus on people, encompassing character-based selection and promotion, personalized development plans, and a strict adherence to the well-known 'no asshole' rule. 
  • a need for a much more deliberate evolution of management structures and practices to craft a reflective holding space for mutual growth and creativity
  • a revision of corporate governance structures and institutions—such as success measures, reward and recognition policies, and team affordances— in order to embed virtuous principles and actively promote and propagate positive impact. The key lies in holistic evolution, spanning people, organizational practices and values, across various levels, avoiding undue fragmentation between specializations, functions or vendors.

3. We are now in the process of integrating specific ideas and practices into a more comprehensive framework, as showcased in the 10-minute video above. This framework includes:

  • Vocational Development "On the job": Embedding vocational development into everyday practices by evolving the design of jobs and roles, systematically and continuously increasing opportunities for learning, development, and meaning.
  • Strengthening micro-organisations: Seeking opportunities to embed reflection and experimentation in team routines to foster collective ownership for both tasks and mutual growth. This involves creating team charters, developing peer-to-peer learning, democratizing task allocation, recruitment, or performance management, and enabling more sociocratic or spiritual decision-making processes.
  • Continual and Intentional Development of the Corporation: Actively shaping both organizational identity and governance. Internally, this involves adjusting managerial affordances for micro-organizations, renegotiating goals, HR practices, or structures. Externally, it encompasses developing a coherent organizational value proposition and fostering effective stakeholder relationships.

a) On the job development (slide 9)

The first step is to look at the work people are doing day-to-day. In this context, "job crafting," as envisioned by Jane Dutton and the Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) movement, comes into play. Job crafting involves employees,  individually and collectively, reshaping aspects of their roles, tasks, and relationships in order to better align work with personal strengths and passions, and to foster moral development, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. This intentional adjustment is not merely about skill enhancement or career development; rather, it represents a "disruptive gesture" aimed at holistically enabling a more fulfilling life at work, by cultivating personal consciousness, identity, and character. At the end of the day, the quality of an organisation depends on its ability to enable every single member to actualise their human potential - organisations are only as good as the "people they produce". Therefore, we must adjust our jobs and roles to the human condition, not the other way around.

b) Strengthening micro-organisations (slide 10)

The next phase involves empowering teams to develop mutually and collectively, forming what we term micro-organizations—self-contained units fostering daily interactions with relative autonomy. It's crucial to note that "co-elevation" is different from collectivism or any one-size-fits-all development program or DEI initiative. To construct excellent organizations, we must genuinely value each individual's uniqueness and contribution, while simultaneously striving to enable the communities' capacity to "lift each other up" for the collective benefit. Achieving this necessitates wisdom at the level of the entire team.

In order to cultivate shared wisdom, these micro-organizations need to rediscover spaces for "seeing the whole system" and integrate further action-reflection loops into daily routines, delving beyond "agile retrospectives" which focus primarily on task performance. Introducing spaces for relational reflection and identity workspaces, where teams contemplate individual and collective identity, marks a shift toward a "triple-loop" learning process—from tasks to relationships and, ultimately, identity and purpose. Further insights on this concept can be explored in Bill Torbert's CDAI (Continual Development Action Inquiry).

  • Task ReflectionIn many agile learning organizations, we routinely engage in retrospectives to review task performance, assess stakeholder feedback, and make necessary adjustments to priorities and development backlogs.
  • Relational and Organizational Reflection: This involves examining our collaboration dynamics, uncovering any unexamined personal factors within the team, evaluating how we interact across the organization, and considering our engagement with a broader set of stakeholders. We also explore our team routines and both formal and informal structures.
  • "Identity Workspaces": This dimension prompts us to delve into questions surrounding our individual and collective identity. We ponder our core beliefs and reflect on who we are evolving into through our experiences and contributions at work.

Navigating this isn't simple, and team development often benefits from coaching and facilitation. Above all, our primary investment should be in shaping a "virtuous community." This involves systematic investments in cultivating high-quality relationships, fostering consistent collaboration and co-creation, and ultimately building the capacity for what Bill Torbert terms "inter-independence." One ongoing intervention we are exploring is "virtue framing." We believe different virtues are instrumental in accelerating development and igniting energy. "Self virtues" focus on gaining agency and continuous growth, "intellectual and civic virtues" are pertinent for reasoning and democratic participation, and "social and eco-systemic virtues" aid in achieving greater sensitivity and connection. Connectedness not only enhances our emotional well-being and makes us more open to similarities over differences but also broadens our mental perspective, generating more ideas. The concept of (organizational) virtues is further developed by Birmingham University's Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues.

Slide 10 underscores that high levels of both reciprocity and trust are crucial for creating an environment where individuals can safely develop not only qualifications and soft skills but also experiment with their own identity and being.

c) Development of the Corporation (slides 11-12)

This brings us to the final component of a good organization, what we term the "corporation." The corporation serves as the glue and framework that integrates and differentiates power, resources, and status across individuals and micro-organizations, enabling the scaling of "goodness" within the organization and across its ecosystem.

It's crucial to recognize that the corporation has two dimensions. On one hand, it is intangible, encompassing all the "cultural" ideas and concepts that shape organizational discourses and ideologies. This is evident in corporate institutions, from success measures and KPIs to narratives, leadership styles, policies, and the ways an organization values and empowers individuals and communities. On the other hand, it is concretely manifested, maintained, and evolved in governance and strategic decision-making structures that engage the entire organization. This aligns with what we earlier referred to as a "living organizational constitution." In terms of the social ontology, it relates to both CULTURE and those institutional routines that enable the organization as a whole to engage with the wider ecosystem. From a functional perspective, support functions like HR or Finance often play critical roles as contributors to the corporation as an institution.

Therefore, the corporation has three pivotal tasks: "value work," which involves creating a consistent identity; "constitutional work," which entails consciously translating that identity into structures to both empower and integrate micro-organizations; and, thirdly, "strategic differentiation work" to coherently develop the organization within the market, ecosystem, and society.

  • When engaging in value work, the focus is on intentionally developing a coherent and transparent set of organizational values that embody the moral identity of the company. It's noteworthy that all organizations, whether consciously or unconsciously, must make concrete value choices concerning crucial organizational paradoxes—balancing individuals vs community, agility vs stability, or profit vs purpose. All these choices are rooted in organizational identity and ideology, making every organization inherently political.
  • Moving on to constitutional work, it revolves around how structures shape the distribution of organizational decision-making and, consequently, power. To achieve excellence, organizational structures, policies, and governance mechanisms need to dynamically evolve with the increasing capacity of people and micro-organizations. The Corporation serves as a container to "hold" and foster organizational development. Organizations face the challenge of finding effective ways to balance local adaptiveness, global efficiency, and outer coherence—considering factors such as branding, strategic positioning, synergies, or regulatory and quality requirements. In our work, we seek mechanisms that enable a reflective equilibrium, bringing together participants from micro-organizations (bottom-up) and the corporation (top-down) to continually evolve organizational institutions. This entails developing intentional inter-independence within an "entrepreneurial community," where individuals consciously and purposefully participate in the organization to uplift each other. An analogy worth considering is the concept of "common law," where local judges set precedents for local contingency, and a holistic juridification process ensures coherence across local adaptations, aiming to maintain and evolve legal intelligence for global social justice. While the puzzle of governance structures for us still remains unsolved, concepts like leadership councils or constitutive assemblies, perhaps building on a sociocratic model, could offer potential solutions.
  • This brings us to the third and final function of the corporation—strategic differentiation work. Here, our focus lies in re-embedding the organization into the ecosystem and society. Mads Nippers, CEO of Orsted, emphasizes that organizations must contribute to a sustainable society by innovating for good. This involves revising their footprint to ensure regenerative use of resources, being accountable for their handprint by designing products and services that truly enable customer flourishing, and contributing to a wider blueprint for societal well-being. Good organizations cannot operate in isolation; their boundaries must extend to all actors that can help contribute to a positive societal blueprint. Structures and processes should actively engage and operate with other societal stakeholders to make a unique contribution to the ecosystem with the endowments they hold.
Navigating these complexities is far from simple. Unsurprisingly, many transformation approaches avoid the realm of the Corporation. While numerous resources explore micro-organizational aspects—ranging from agile methodologies to psychological safety to teal paradigms—few critically assess the "political holding structures." Frequently, transformations involve altering organizational charts or systems without any rigorous examination of organizational identity and governance. Consequently, the values and power distribution at the end of a transformation often mirror exactly their starting point. Conversely, when companies earnestly seek to change ideologies and governance they might face regulatory hurdles, or provoke negative responses from the market or investors, as seen in the cases of Unilever and Danone. Hence, there is an urgent need for innovative ideas and approaches to address these challenges.


Below you can also find a few blog posts that dive into our evolving thoughts around these concepts

GOOD work
Homo Economicus is Dead — Long Live Homo Cooperativus!
Good Business Rankings: Little Fire, Lots of Smoke!

Rankings, awards, certificates - there are numerous employer labels that distinguish companies as good employers. But much of it is "good washing", as an analysis by the Research Institute for Work and Working Environments at the University of St. Gallen shows.
(12 min read)

good organisations
From Psychological Safety to Psychological Hope: Taking a Leap Beyond the “Comfort zone”

More and more awards for "good companies" that focus on sustainability and social responsibility are entering the employer seal market. But do they live up to their claim of being "good"? We spoke with Prof. Dr. Antoinette Weibel from the University of St. Gallen about her analysis.
(4 min read)

innovative designs
A Timely Laloux Retrospective: Why Teal is Wrong! (and Why You Should Care)

Isn’t it funny that sustainability is on everybody’s lips these days, but environmental and societal degradation are occurring at unprecedented levels? And ain’t it curious that the planet is burning, but few people in (solar-powered!) corporate or political headquarters are sweating?
(6 min read)

good organisations

4 Reasons Why New Narratives Cement the Old Status Quo and Avoid the Real Work — and Why Good Is the New Black
(25 min read)

Curious to read more about our ongoing inquiry? A good place to start is our blog with all recent leadership articles and posts.

knowledge expeditions

Discover New Puzzle Pieces of Wisdom On A Search For Eureka Moments!

Curious to watch more interviews? Jump to the Leaders for Humanity series for all our exciting interviews with some of the greatest minds of our time.

Materials marked in  dark purple  are foundational. Those flagged in light purple are for in-depth exploration.

Core Concept 7: Good Work

Core Concept 7: Good Work

Please reflect What is Good work? What are the alternative theories for meaningful and good work? What is enabling, what is destroying meaningful and good work?

1) What is good and meaningful work from a virtue ethics perspective?
2) What are the main characteristics of good work from the medical/health, the positive organizational scholarship, the SDT, the human resource development and the political point of view? What are the enablers and blockers of good work in these perspectives?
3) Good work is always integrated into the good organisation (core concept 9) and the good economy (core concept 5). Once you have covered all these concepts try to understand how good work is enabled through these social structures and in turn is changing these social structures into the right direction.

But first: an attempt to define "flourishing" in more details (all draft - related to performance management)

This is a very short, condensed beginners guide to ethical decision making: " As people in this world, and good citizens, we are concerned not only with what actions are morally right and morally wrong, but what makes actions morally right or morally wrong. The key is to understand the reasoning that we employ in ethical decision making so we can become more proficient.
Ethical frameworks are perspectives useful for reasoning what course of action may provide the most moral outcome. In many cases, a person may not use a reasoning process but rather do what they simply feel is best at the time. Others may reflexively use a principle they learned from their family, peers, religious teachings or own experiences. The study of ethics has provided many principles that can aid in ethical decision making. Some of the most common are captured in the following 5 ethical frameworks: Virtue Ethics, Deontology, Utilitarianism, Rights-Based Ethics, Care-Based Ethics.
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." Read here the introduction and the first chapter to gain a better understand what you are looking for in the good organisations.

As interest in virtue ethics has developed and spread, a variety of accounts of virtue, and of virtue ethics, has emerged. We are now familiar not only with neo-Aristotelian accounts (still the most popular) but also target-centered, exemplarist, agent-based and sentimentalist accounts, as well as accounts based on Kant, utilitarianism and other theories. This blossoming in a former desert is to be heartily welcomed, but it also produces a new issue for virtue ethics. How are we to evaluate, or even compare, these different versions? If we ignore tensions and conflicts between different versions, virtue may appear to be too pliable a concept, easily integrated into widely different theories and so raising doubts about its robustness as a central ethical concept. Yet attempts to judge virtue, and virtue ethics, by fitness, or not, to prior constraints on ethical concepts or theories risk begging important questions. With this in mind, I begin on 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.

Aristotle conceives of ethical theory as a field distinct from the theoretical sciences. Its methodology must match its subject matter—good action—and must respect the fact that in this field many generalizations hold only for the most part. We study ethics in order to improve our lives, and therefore its principal concern is the nature of human well-being. Aristotle follows Socrates and Plato in taking the virtues to be central to a well-lived life. Like Plato, he regards the ethical virtues (justice, courage, temperance and so on) as complex rational, emotional and social skills. But he rejects Plato’s idea that to be completely virtuous one must acquire, through a training in the sciences, mathematics, and philosophy, an understanding of what goodness is. What we need, in order to live well, is a proper appreciation of the way in which such goods as friendship, pleasure, virtue, honor and wealth fit together as a whole. In order to apply that general understanding to particular cases, we must acquire, through proper upbringing and habits, the ability to see, on each occasion, which course of action is best supported by reasons. Therefore practical wisdom, as he conceives it, cannot be acquired solely by learning general rules. We must also acquire, through practice, those deliberative, emotional, and social skills that enable us to put our general understanding of well-being into practice in ways that are suitable to each occasion.
Good organisations builds on virtue ethics. In this paper Robert Solomon explains why economics is unsuitable for business ethics. He develops the argument why virtue ethics is better suited. In addition he is contrasting virtue ethics to deontology and utalitarianism. He then explains the six dimensions of virtue ethics (in his view): community, excellence, role identity, integrity, practical wisdom and holism. Finally he talks about business and virtues.

Psychologists are increasingly interested in the topic of eudaimonia, a term adopted from ancient Greek philosophers (with most modern views traceable to Aristotle), referring to human flourishing. Conceptual confusion remains because investigators generally have not clarified how and why they have appropriated Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia. This chapter presents a close interpretation of Aristotle’s view and explores continuities and discontinuities in psychologists’ application of this original concept to provide a theoretical baseline and increase conceptual clarity. Eudaimonia is explored as an ethical concept referring to the best kind of life, which is an outgrowth of humans’ natural endowments. Eudaimonia is a form of activity (that includes subjective experience, but is not limited to it), comprised by the pursuit of ends that are choiceworthy for human beings. Eudaimonia is a unified way of life, but it has multiple constituents (e.g., belonging, justice, and social harmony). Eudaimonia is related to, but distinct from pleasure (hedonia). Human flourishing is a matter of a complete life that encompasses virtue or excellence, and Aristotle saw it as the ultimate aim of human life. The chapter concludes with several major challenges for eudaimonia researchers.

This introductory chapter of Heywood reflects on the nature of political ideology. It does so by examining the life and (sometimes convoluted) times of the concept of ideology, the structure of ideological thought, the differences between so-called ‘classical’ ideologies and ‘new’ ideologies, the extent to which ideologies conform to a left/ right divide, and the question of whether ideology has or could come to an end. (Chapter 13 discusses how and why political ideologies matter.)

This chapter reviews the literature surrounding the concept of decent work, beginning in 1999 with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) decision to adopt the term as its primary goal, bringing together ‘four strategic objectives: the promotion of rights at work; employment; social protection; and social dialogue’ (Somavia, 1999, p. 6). Historical perspectives contrast decent work with ‘dignified work’, championed by more radical voices (Spooner & Waterman, 2015; Standing, 2008), but remind us that the organization’s capacity to advance a radical agenda has always been constrained by its tripartite nature (Moore, Dannreuther, & Mollmann, 2015).

A review on non normative work on meaningful work: Meaningful work is a topic of importance in core domains of human resource development (HRD) such as employee engagement, motivation, and personal development. However, there is little consensus over what comprises meaningful work or concerning the antecedent and outcome factors associated with meaningfulness. Prior theorizing has tended to conflate conceptual and empirical arguments, and hence, we lack clear insight into factors related to employees’ experience of meaningfulness. To address these gaps, we undertook an analysis of the empirical literature relating to meaningful work. In all, 71 studies met the inclusion criteria. We focused on the question, “What is the empirical evidence base concerning meaningful work, and how can this inform theory and practice in HRD?”

According to self-determination theory (SDT), employees can experience different types of motivation with respect to their work. The presence of the different types of motivation is important given that, compared with controlled regulation (introjected and extrinsic motivation), autonomous regulation (intrinsic and identified motivation) leads to a host of positive individual and organizational outcomes. Despite this empirically validated phenomenon, managers remain unaware of the outcomes of motivation in the workplace and of the practices that can foster autonomous regulation through psychological need satisfaction. The focus of the article will be to review relevant literature to reveal the benefits that SDT principles can bring to the workplace.

Sustainable organizations have the capacity to endure and simultaneously satisfy a triple bottom line of economic, environmental and human performance. While all three components are critical, we know little about the human dimension of sustainability. Thriving, defined as the joint experience of vitality and learning, is a key mechanism for understanding human sustainability in organizations. When thriving, employees are not stagnating or languishing, but instead are growing and energized in their work. They are not merely depleting resources, but also generating resources through their vitality and learning. Across an array of industries including both blue-collar and white-collar workers, our research demonstrates that thriving employees are stronger performers, better organizational citizens, and proactive, resilient, and healthy. Individuals can self-regulate their thriving so it is sustainable over time through employing healthy habits (sleep, nutrition, and exercise), job crafting to make work more meaningful and impactful, innovating to learn new things, and building competencies and skills for working with those who are different from themselves. Organizations can also contribute to human thriving. Rather than focusing on selecting employees who have a higher predilection for thriving, organizations can build an environment that nurtures thriving at work. Organizations can enable more human thriving at work through several levers—including providing decision-making discretion, sharing information about the organization and its strategy, minimizing incivility, offering performance feedback, and encouraging diversity. As more organizations adopt these enablers, we can expect to see a substantial increase in human sustainability, and in turn, better balance among growth across dimensions of the triple bottom line

Whereas burnout refers to a state of exhaustion and cynicism toward work, engagement is defined as a positive motivational state of vigor, dedication, and absorption. In this article, we discuss the main definitions and conceptualizations of both concepts used in the literature. In addition, we review the most important antecedents of burnout and work engagement by examining situational and individual predictors. We also review the possible consequences of burnout and engagement and integrate the research findings using job demands–resources theory. Although both burnout and work engagement are related to important job-related outcomes, burnout seems to be more strongly related to health outcomes, whereas work engagement is more strongly related to motivational outcomes. We discuss daily and momentary fluctuations in burnout and work engagement as possibilities for future research

Based on the extended conceptualization of corporate citizenship, as provided by Matten and Crane, this paper examines the new role of corporations in society. Taking the ideas of Matten and Crane one step further, we argue that the status of corporations as citizens is not solely defined by their factual engagement in the provision of citizenship rights to others. By analysing political and sociological citizenship theories, we show that such engagement is more adequately explained by a change in the self-conception of corporate citizens from corporate bourgeois to corporate citoyens. While the corporate bourgeois acts primarily for private business purposes, the corporate citoyen engages in society, performing civil and political rights and duties. As an intermediate actor in society, shaped by the principle of subsidiary task-sharing, the corporate citoyen undertakes co-responsibility for social and civic affairs and actively collaborates with fellow citizens below, beside and beyond governmental regulation.

Core Concept 8: Popular theories to develop better organisations

Core Concept 8: What are the (many) popular theories to design better organisations?

Make yourself familiar and "browse" through concepts such as sociocracy, holacracy, rendanheyi, teal and others and ask yourself what ethical challenges these are facing.

1) What are the essentials of organisation design? And what are the requirements for designing organisations for the 21st century?
2) Can you describe the characteristics of the different "cracies" named here. How do these differ?
3) If you consider all suggested organisational designs

The bureaucratic organizational structure has been recently challenged by a number of organizations that claim to offer employee emancipation and autonomy through self-management, self-organizing, or “holacracy.” To facilitate theorizing about such organizational-level self-management, I examine it as an ideal type of organizational form, comparing it to two more established organizational forms, Weberian bureaucracy and Mintzberg’s adhocracy.
A theory of organization design provides a conceptual map of the factors andprocesses involvedin the creation and shaping of new business and organizational models. A theory of organization design must explain both the elements of organizational designs and the forces that motivate the search for new configurations of those elements. Within the field of architecture, it is well established that a good design must encompass both function and form, and especially the fit between them. Af irm’s businessmodel articulates its function – how the firm creates and captures value. It includes the firm’s resources and activities, as well as the relationships within which resources and activities are embedded. An organizational form is the structure and processes that
the firm uses to arrange and focus tangible resources such as money and equipment and intangible resources such as knowledge. Thus, in our theory, the core elements of organization design area firm’s business model and a supporting organizational form that enables the firm to pursue it. While the core elements of organization design are easy enough to identify and describe, the
remaining properties of the theory require more insight into the dynamics of organizational behavior.

This review aims to redress the growing gap between the receding discourse on bureaucracy and bureaucracy’s continuing presence as the predominant organizational form. Reviewing a century of organizational research on bureaucracy, we find three main perspectives, which developed in succession but persist in parallel: bureaucracy as an organizing principle, as a paradigmatic form of organization, and as one type of structure among others. We argue that these three perspectives should be brought into closer dialogue and expanded, so we can overcome the de- contextualized, reified, and atomized ways in which bureaucracy is often viewed. To that end, we offer three pathways to stimulate future research on bureaucracy in its wider context, bureaucracy in action, and bureaucracy’s interdependencies and configurations. Finally, we discuss how we can better understand the various guises in which bureaucracy continues into the 21st century.

Sociocracy is a governance system, just like democracy or corporate governance methods. It’s best suited for organizations that want to self-govern based on the values of equality. What we call sociocracy now was first developed as the Sociocratic Circle Method by Gerard Endenburg in the Netherlands in the 1980ies. Its origins are in: (1) Natural systems: complex organizations work as decentralized, nested systems that are semi-autonomous. That means they are both autonomous and dependent on each other, like, for example, the respiratory and the nervous system. Sociocracy builds on a set of simple rules. For example, a simple rule defines how to create a circle. The same rule then allows any circles to form a sub-circle, and the sub-circles to form sub-sub-circles and so on. (2) Decision-making builds on decision-making by the Quakers that have a strong commitment to inclusion and egalitarian values. (3) Cybernetics: sociocracy uses feedback loops to learn about the impact of actions.

In his engaging talk, Brian Robertson explains Holacracy, a complete system for structuring a company without a management hierarchy, yet with clear accountability, authority and agility. Brian Robertson is an experienced entrepreneur, CEO and the creator of Holacracy, a management system for governing and running organizations without a typical management hierarchy. A variety of global leaders have implemented Holacracy, including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams, and the best-selling author of Getting Things Done, David Allen. Brian previously founded a software development firm that won numerous awards for both fast business growth and innovative people practices.

Virtually any organization has been exposed to, if not already influenced by agile thinking, rituals, and tools. Stand-ups, weeklys, retrospectives, iterative sprints, scrum, kanban boards, or other parts of the agile lingo, and its practices have made their way into most large firms Boundaryless is honored to support. Some recurring questions thus naturally pop up: Are agile principles and RenDanHeYi’s values in alignment? Should we expect any conflict from adopting RendanHeYi solutions in teams that leverage agile techniques? What are the organizational and operational domains mostly impacted by the RenDanHeYi versus those affected by Agile? What is, instead, the RenDanHeYi adding to agile approaches?

This article proposes that so powerful are the various forces for change in the business environment, in particular technological advances, that organizations must develop their adaptive capability—or agility—if they are to survive and thrive. An agile organization is one that can intelligently and proactively seize opportunities and react to threats and make timely, effective, sustainable changes that generate competitive advantage and give them some leverage in the marketplace or in their ecosystem. Yet scaling up for agility remains difficult, not least because the quest for agility calls into question organizational paradigms of various kinds—strategy, change management, the nature of leadership, and organizational design. The author provides a practitioner perspective on both the difficulties and the possibilities of developing organizational agility and proposes an adaptive approach to organization design and development that may offer a way forward for organizations wishing to become more agile.

“Shared purpose,” understood as a widely shared commitment to the organization’s fundamental raison d’être, can be a powerful driver of organizational performance by providing both motivation and direction for members’ joint problem-solving efforts. So far, however, we understand little about the organization design that can support shared purpose in the context of large, complex business enterprises. Building on the work of Selznick and Weber, we argue that such contexts require a new organizational form, one that we call collaborative. The collaborative organizational form is grounded in Weber’s value-rational type of social action, but overcomes the scale limitations of the collegial form of organization that is conventionally associated with value-rational action. We identify four organizational principles that characterize this collaborative form and a range of managerial policies that can implement those principles.

Core Concept 9: How Do Good Organisations Differ?

Core Concept 9: How do good organisations differ?

Please reflect: How does a good organisation "operationalize" responsibility and the good life through work?

1) A core distinction of good organisations is between virtues, practices and institution. Can you define each of these and explain how these relate? Can you give examples from your own experiences how institutions sometimes undermine good work and virtues (in practices)?
2) Can you explain how the good organisation is contributing to the good life of all along examples you find in the articles?

This paper develops a meta-theory of business based on virtue theory which links the concept of virtues, the common good, and the dynamic economy into a unifying and comprehensive theory of business. Traditional theories and models of business have outlived their usefulness as they are unable to adequately explain social reality. Virtue theory shows firms that pursue ethically-driven strategies can realise a greater profit potential than those firms who currently use profit-driven strategies. The theory expounds that the business of business is ethical business and that the crises that business and society face today are crises of leadership and ethics. The issues of leadership and corporate social responsibility are discussed in the context of the proposed theory.

Strategy-as-practice research has usefully built on earlier strategy process research by taking into account the social embeddedness of strategy making. While such an approach has generated valuable insights, it has curiously left unexplored the moral dimension of practice. In this article, we show how the potential of strategy-as-practice research may be more fully realized if the moral dimension of practice is conceptualized through virtue ethics (especially MacIntyre’s version). Specifically, we first reconceptualize, through virtue ethics, the three main concepts of strategy-as-practice—practice, praxis, and practitioners—underscoring the inherently moral constitution of actions undertaken in strategy-related work. Moreover, we suggest that strategic management is viewed as a particular kind of practice (what we call “competitive institutional practice”), charged with “values articulation work” and “balancing work.”

This article proposes a theory of the firm based on the common good. It clarifies the meaning of the term “common good” tracing its historical development. Next, an analogous sense applicable to the firm is derived from its original context in political theory. Put simply, the common good of the firm is the production of goods and services needed for flourishing, in which different members participate through work. This is linked to the political common good through subsidiarity. Lastly, implications and challenges arising from the positing of work as the common good of the firm are explored.

In this paper we argue that MacIntyre’s virtues-goods-practice-institution schema (MacIntyre 1985) provides a conceptual framework within which organizational virtue in general, and virtue in business in particular, can be explored. A heuristic device involving levels of individual agency, mode of institutionalization and environment is used to discuss why some businesses protect practices, develop virtues and encourage the exercise of moral agency in their decision making, while others struggle or fail to do so. In relation to conventional shareholder-owned capitalist business, both the mode of institutionalization and the environment are shown to be largely antithetical to the development of practices. Other businesses may meet the necessary internal conditions for the sustenance of practice-like features but remain dependent upon features within their environments. To illustrate this, we use participant observation to show how one particular organization—Traidcraft plc—meets the relevant conditions.

This paper examines the distinction between “internal goods” and “external goods” and its significance for the political thought of Alasdair MacIntyre, focusing especially on its relevance for our understanding of MacIntyre's views regarding the relationship which exists between “practices” and social “institutions. ” The paper explores the origins of this distinction in the writings of Plato and Aristotle, both of whom (like MacIntyre) associate the notion of external goods with such things as wealth, status and power. Plato argues that these things are not really “goods” at all, but rather “bads,” or things which ought to be avoided. Aristotle, on the other hand, takes issue with that view, arguing that the pursuit of such things is acceptable, morally speaking, provided it is in moderation and not to excess. The paper argues that what MacIntyre says about external goods and “the corrupting power of institutions” in After Virtue is ambivalent. For this reason, his views are open to different possible interpretations. Most commentators have read and understood him as a follower of Aristotle. There is however a strain of Platonism at times in the critical remarks which he makes about social institutions and those who manage them.

This paper describes differences in two perspectives on the idea of virtue as a theoretical foundation for positive organizational ethics (POE). The virtue ethics perspective is grounded in the philosophical tradition, has classical roots, and focuses attention on virtue as a property of character. The positive social science perspective is a recent movement (e.g., positive psychology and positive organizational scholarship) that has implications for POE. The positive social science movement operationalizes virtue through an empirical lens that emphasizes virtuous behaviors. From a virtue ethics perspective, a behaviorally based account of virtue is a weak theory of virtue. Observations are suggested for integrating the two perspectives. First, virtue should always be understood as an excellence and is often an optimal point between extreme dysfunctions on continuum of potential states. Second, an empirical exploration of virtue needs to account for character and context. Finally, the properties of organization-level virtue need to be further specified and explored. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Recommended Book Shelf

The Great Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy

by Bryan Magee

Ethics and Excellence: Cooperation and Integrity in Business

by Robert C. Solomon

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory

by Alasdair MacIntyre

Political Ideologies: An Introduction

by Andrew Heywood

An Introduction to Political Philosophy

by Jonathan Wolff

Civil Economy: Another Idea of the Market

by Luigino Bruni, Stefano Zamagni

Meaningful Work

by Andrea Veltman

Work Redesign

by J. Richard Hackman, Greg R. Oldham

Good Work

by Howard Gardner

The Craftsman

by Richard Sennett

The Oxford Handbook of Meaningful Work

by Ruth Yeoman (Editor), Catherine Bailey (Editor), Adrian Madden (Editor), Marc Thompson (Editor)

Dialogic Organization Development

by Gervase R. Bushe, Robert J. Marshak

Small Arcs of Larger Circles

by Nora Bateson

Critical Systems Thinking and the Management of Complexity

by Michael C. Jackson

Cynefin - Weaving Sense-Making into the Fabric of Our World

by Dave Snowden et al.

The Fearless Organization

by Amy C. Edmondson

Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them

by Gary Hamel, Michele Zanini

Many Voices One Song

by Ted J Rau, Jerry Koch-Gonzalez

Reinventing Organizations

by Frederic Laloux

Open Strategy: Mastering Disruption from Outside the C-Suite

by Christian Stadler, Julia Hautz
Start-up Factory: Haier's RenDanHeYi model and the end of management as we know it

Start-up Factory: Haier's RenDanHeYi model and the end of management as we know it

by Joost Minnaar, Pim de Morree, Bram van der Lecq
Zero Distance: Management in the Quantum Age

Zero Distance: Management in the Quantum Age

by Danah Zohar
The Fractal Organization: Creating sustainable organizations with the Viable System Model

The Fractal Organization: Creating sustainable organizations with the Viable System Model

by Patrick Hoverstadt
Platform for Change

Platform for Change

by Stafford Beer
Leading by Weak Signals: Using Small Data to Master Complexity:

Leading by Weak Signals: Using Small Data to Master Complexity:

by Peter Gomez, Mark Lambertz

The Agile Organization: How to Build an Innovative, Sustainable and Resilient Business

by Linda Holbeche

Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy

by Brian J. Robertson

Designing Organizations: Strategy, Structure, and Process at the Business Unit and Enterprise Levels

by Jay R. Galbraith

Collective Power: Patterns for a Self-Organized Future

by Ted Rau

Restoring Sanity: Practices to Awaken Generosity, Creativity, and Kindness in Ourselves and Our Organizations

by Margaret J. Wheatley

Corporate Rebels: Make work more fun

by Joost Minnaar, Pim de Morree

Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love

by Richard Sheridan

The Character Of A Corporation

von Rob Goffee, Gareth R. Jones

The Neurotic Organization

by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, Danny Miller

From Dependency to Autonomy: Studies in Organization and Change

by Eric J. Miller

Transforming Experience in Organisations: A Framework for Organisational Research and Consultancy

by Susan Long

Understanding Organizations-Finally!

by Henry Mintzberg

The Firm as a Collaborative Community: The Reconstruction of Trust in the Knowledge Economy

by Charles Heckscher (Editor), Paul S. Adler (Editor)

Virtue at Work: Ethics for Individuals, Managers, and Organizations

by Geoff Moore

Corporate Governance and Ethics: An Aristotelian Perspective

by Alejo José G. Sison

onwards and upwards!

Journey Map