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critical perspectives: ethics, economics & beyond

Latest Essays and Blog Posts

Welcome to our essay collection, where founders and members of the Global Society for Good Leadership critically examine theories and practices of leadership and business. These pieces aim to enhance our capacity for critical thinking and are grounded in the principles of good leadership. Please note that the essays might not necessarily reflect the views of the Good Leadership Society, nor fully represent the latest views and thinking about Good Organisations model. For information on the Good Organisations approach, please refer to main section pages and "Our Research".





#GoodLeadership: Contemporary Leadership Controversies For Curious Minds

Otti's Regular Leadership Column


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#GoodOrganisations: Making Businesses Flourish

Antoinette's Blog


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Good Life and Good Society

F**k Purpose! 4 Reasons Why New Narratives Cement the Old Status Quo and Avoid the Real Work

F**k Purpose!

4 Reasons Why New Narratives Cement the Old Status Quo and Avoid the Real Work — and Why Good Is the New Black
The Sustainability Lie: Why Responsibility Comes First

The Sustainability Lie: Why Responsibility Comes First

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?
The Problem with Democracy and Why It Is Time to Revisit the Premises of Political (& Organisational) Governance

The Problem with Democracy and Why It Is Time to Revisit the Premises of Political (& Organisational) Governance

We often speak of democracy as an “ethical ideal”. “Undemocratic” has become synonymous with illegitimate — and we often find it appropriate to reprimand others who do not operate “democratically”. Sadly, commentators mostly resort to a black-and-white dichotomy of “democractic vs undemocratic” — and the depth of our excitable postmodern political discourse mostly consists of superficial populism and squabbles over voting ages and redistricting.
Diversity Or Not: When (Forced) DIVERSITY Becomes DUMB…

Diverse Or Not: When (Forced) DIVERSITY Becomes DUMB…

“Diversity” has become a staple. Undoubtedly, this is positive. However, diversity discourses have a tendency to shift from diversity as a descriptive concept to diversity as a moral norm — and when a “dogma of diversity” starts to crowd out critical voices as “illegitimate” we must dig a little deeper.
Sustain-ability: To Become or Not To Become?

Sustain-ability: To Become or Not To Become?

“Future” focuses our mind’s attention on the implications of our present action, in the same way that “death” focuses our life on its significance.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

It is sometimes flabbergasting how strongly we argue about ethical positions, whilst many of us seem to have a very haphazard understanding of basic ethical theories. Sadly, this quickly leads to the perpetuation of half truths, and the insistence on a set of rather simplistic logical fallacies that every basic textbook in (business) ethics addresses extensively.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

What do you want from your life? Rather than encouraging us to ask such deeper questions, it seems modern culture provides an endless stream of distractions to successfully evade them. Our contemporary society not only lacks those famous ancient academies of philosophy, but is devoid of any relevant living tradition of wisdom.



Good Economy

Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

How Economic Science Lost Its Heart and Soul (…and What We Can Do About It)

Imagine a society where people interact with trust, solidarity and fraternity. Where welfare is not measured in terms of GDP, but lived in terms of public happiness. Where the economy is virtuous and markets aim at shared prosperity through mutual exchange and generous reciprocity. Where organisations are, first and foremost, positive agents of societal change — creating communities, not commodities. And where work is centred on the integral development of each person, not solely on products…
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

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.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Homo Economicus is Dead — Long Live Homo Cooperativus!

We have looked everywhere - the infamous 'homo economicus' has gone missing like Ötzi the Iceman! This abstract model of men are exclusively guided by self-interest exists mostly in the heads of economists and corporate finance departments.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

The Fatal Flaw of STAKEHOLDER CAPITALISM

When we “see the world” as a fragmented array of constituents who lay normative claims on the economy, or an Organisation, or the State, we quickly forget that such a perspective is necessarily incomplete. Not only because we often find ourselves in multiple roles but, more importantly, because any aggregation of partial viewpoints could never “add up” to the common good.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Fair or Foul: Good Companies or Good Impression Management?

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)



Good Organisations

You can engage with us simply by searching for #goodorganisations

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Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

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.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

The Hidden Costs of Incentive Pay

In a well-read publication Antoinette together with Bård Kuvaas, Robert Buch, Anders Dysvik and Christina G.L. have shown based on three studies that extrinsic motivation (made salient through incentive pay) is negatively related to work performance and commitment but positively to burnout and work-family conflict.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

IS FAILURE GOOD?

OF COURSE NOT! Sorry to disappoint you - somehow even stating the obvious on social media sounds prophetic. ;-) It is in fact quite curious how some people have turned a failure fad into a failure fetish.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

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

Psychological Safety relates, roughly speaking, to the belief that we shouldn’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with our ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. Which, if you asked me, sounds pretty much like common sense. Fancy name apart — why did everybody jump on it as if it was the hottest thing since the invention of bread?
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Big Brother is Watching... At Work!

In a wrap-up of her big (and quite frigthening) research project Antoinette explains the pittfalls of the rising datafication in companies.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

BUREAUCRACY MUST DIE! KILL ALL EGOS! Really?! We Beg to Differ.

It seems that many of our current conversations about organizational and individual #transformation and #leadership have started to take undue and dangerous shortcuts to purport simplistic slogans and recipes, rather than promote deeper inquiry...
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

The Challenges of Algorithm-Based HR Decision-Making for Personal Integrity?

Together with her co-authors and project partners Antoinette identifies an important challenge arising from the efficiency-driven logic of algorithm-based HR decision-making, namely that it may shift the delicate balance between employees’ personal integrity and compliance more in the direction of compliance. The authors suggest that critical data literacy, ethical awareness, the use of participatory design methods, and private regulatory regimes within civil society can help overcome these challenges.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

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

Since the publication of Frederic Laloux's Reinventing Organizations in 2014, "Teal" has become a hopeful utopia for its passionate followers in the global future-of-work community. Seven years later many find their dreams shattered, as the book’s revolutionary vision rests on patchy premises.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Utopia for Corporate Realists: Teal 2.0?

We can simplify Laloux’s framework and decode the arbitrary colour scheme. We can reconnect “levels of consciousness” with robust ethical frameworks and choices about values. We can relate values to relational models to attain more coherence in organisational development –paving the way for teal 2.0.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

The Dark Side of OKRs and Why We Should Care

Antoinette has written a blog on OKRs to show how even modern performance management can lead to dehumanization. In a nutshell: individual level OKRs prevent reflection and incubation plus when pitched overambitious (as suggested) can be linked to gaming and unethical behavior. But even OKRs on the collective level need to be designed carefully as competition between teams can also undermine the contribution to the common good.
(5min read)
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

We Need to Start the Transformation With Ourselves

Interview New Work, Agile, Teal – there are many initiatives for a new future of work. Otti Vogt, until recently COO and Chief Transformation Officer C&G at ING, and Prof. Dr. Antoinette Weibel from the University of St. Gallen explain in this interview why these have not yet achieved broad transformational power and how things could be improved.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

You May Say I'm A Dreamer…

Whilst the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is “taking the world by its ears”, our organisations have collectively produced numerous outcomes that nobody really wants — hunger, inequality, burnout, diseases, fear and loneliness, and ecological collapse. Hence my personal North Star in the quest for better organisations has always been the creation of greater value, attaining both collective purpose and individual development, profitably.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Talkin’ About A Fifth Revolution - Toward A Living Organisation Paradigm

By Otti Vogt, originally delivered at the first annual Teal Around the World online conference July 2020.
Uniting Leaders to Craft the Organizations of the Future
Hip Hip, Hybrid!! Here we are again, back to the seasonal hype about “hybrid” working. Whilst some companies proudly market themselves as WFH-only, and others suffer from ritual outrage when commanding “everybody back to the office”, most claim with studied conviction that some middle way must be the path to worker’s paradise. What is going on?

The Not-So-Clever Hype of Hybrid Working

Hip Hip, Hybrid!! Here we are again, back to the seasonal hype about “hybrid” working. Whilst some companies proudly market themselves as WFH-only, and others suffer from ritual outrage when commanding “everybody back to the office”, most claim with studied conviction that some middle way must be the path to worker’s paradise. What is going on?
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Remembering Polanyi: Where Are We On Our "Great Transformation"?

In his famous "Great Transformation”, Karl Polanyi calls labour, land and money “fictitious commodities”. These three are not truly commodities, he suggests, as they can never be managed effectively by the market, and necessarily require administration by the State. In this, Polanyi argues, lies also a more fundamental issue with the libertarian ideology of self-regulating markets - the economy, by definition, can never truly work without the regulatory power of and outside the “embeddedness” within the State.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Pluralists of all Countries, Unite!

Once upon a time, around 1989, the righteous cavaliers of capitalism trounced the evil communist forces and freed the beautiful Princess of Liberty! “Mankind had reached perfection, thanks to the invisible hand and relentless greed”. Henceforth, neocapitalism ruled with precious splendour and all people shall be living (read: consuming) as mini capitalists happily ever after… WRRRRRRRRONG!!
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

The Quandary of B-Schools: When Will We Be Good?

Business schools these days are struggling to find their way. They often appear lost in their desire to foster a positive image of business and cling to an educational ideal of highly scientific and technical craftmanship (case studies, anyone?!), whilst seeking to adapt to the increasing criticism of both alumni and public. Yet, I fear a lot more needs to be done to step up the game.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Is Business Ethics an Oxymoron? A Quest For Corporate Excellence

Is “Business Ethics” an oxymoron? No. Commercial performance and ethics are by no means incommensurable —but they ask fundamentally different questions. Ethics is about choosing whither to go — how to grow, and why. Performance is about progressing towards a chosen destination in the most efficient way possible, adapting to obstacles and opportunities along the road.
F**K The FUTURE OF WORK: Our Tragic Failure To Uphold [Our Own] Humanity

F**K The FUTURE OF WORK: Our Tragic Failure To Uphold [Our Own] Humanity

In a world marked by complexity and polycrisis, business stands at a pivotal moment. To enact meaningful change, leaders, particularly those in HR, must confront an existential midlife crisis. This entails challenging the status quo and acknowledging their complicity in perpetuating suffering within organisations.



Good Leaders and Good Leadership

Leadership For Good: CEOs' Imperative For Economic Responsibility

Leadership For Good: CEOs' Imperative For Economic Responsibility

In today's interconnected global world, the role of corporate leaders extends far beyond the traditional confines of the boardroom. As stewards of immense economic power and influence, CEOs are increasingly called upon to address pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

100 Years of Messy Leadership Theories

Chances are that someone has gifted you one of those multi-coloured, slogan-rich “airport” management books that often come with “washing lists” of highly critical characteristics, or secret “power traits”, of successful leaders...
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Letting Go of Leadership -The Urgent Case for A Global Leadership Iconoclasm

Are you a good leader? In case you are emphatically nodding, how would you know? Regrettably, it has become increasingly difficult to discern what “good Leadership” actually means. Searching Google reveals a mind-boggling 148 million links to the term. Amazon hosts over 100,000 entries.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Managers vs Entrepreneurs: The Battle is On!

“Management is not about managing people, but about helping people become entrepreneurs”. Is that true? And whilst compelling, what exactly does this mean? With all the hype about entrepreneurship it might indeed come as a surprise that the role of “entrepreneurs” has been far from unequivocal during the last two centuries...
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Stop the Corporate Crooks… Now!

Our corporate world seems to have gone mad as a hatter! Newspaper around the globe are chock-full of distressing stories — featuring corporate managers as greedy tycoons, opportunistic gamblers, eccentric narcissists or hubristic superstars, busily designing billionaire-only resorts on planet Mars. And every day some CEO somewhere makes the headlines for getting away with phenomenal bonuses in spite of miserable performance.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Why Micro-Management Is NOT The Problem

It might be a symptom of our shallow discussions about organisational transformation that often posts single-mindedly demonise the perils of micro-management. Many such popular and populist posts come decorated with funny visuals, ready-made lists of "suggestions" and good practices, or allegedly thought-provoking questions like: "how often did you disagree with your team's decisions last week?" Sadly, most of this is missing the point…
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Why Good Leaders Constantly Hit The Wall… when their organisations are not ready for change

What unites our traditional leadership approaches is that the lens of analysis is fixed on the leader: on his traits, his behaviour, his-strategy-in-context, his mindset. And I will argue that most of these interpretations - at least in part - are missing a point. Leadership is not just about the leader. Good leadership is about making a new potential reality possible; about transforming the capacity of an organisation "to become" its own best future.
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Stop LEADING, Start FOLLOWING! Or: The Leader Who Pointed A Finger…

It might be a symptom of our shallow discussions about organisational transformation that often posts single-mindedly demonise the perils of micro-management. Many such popular and populist posts come decorated with funny visuals, ready-made lists of "suggestions" and good practices, or allegedly thought-provoking questions like: "how often did you disagree with your team's decisions last week?" Sadly, most of this is missing the point…
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Our Immoral Obsession With “Authenticity” And The Perils Of Self-Actualisation

In this ever more uncertain and dangerous world, where traditional values and communities are being eroded, and external change is constant… or so the story went… we can only truly rely upon ourselves. Hence, to master the rugged seas of postmodern anxiety and realise “our best self” we have to embark on a quest for authenticity. Successful living means to connect to our very “essence” and live in accordance with our “soul”. Of course, most of this is fiction…
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Fighting Covid-19: Prime time for heroic leadership? A battle of Agile vs Resilience.

Let me be clear: we are all afraid. Yet, fear shall never come in the way of courageously doing what is right. Let us not speak of darker days: let us speak of sterner days. This is the hour to walk together on a journey from fear and isolation to greater humanity and deeper healing, to make sure we come out of the crisis more resilient and more united, and certainly a bit wiser about what truly matters in life.



Critical Thinking & Other

“The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.” - Mark Twain

Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

Surely You’re Joking, Alfred Nobel!
Or: The Curious Mystery of the Bogus Nobel Prize in Economics

Why there is and never will be a Nobel Prize in Economics and how the a bogus prize awarded by the Swedish Central Bank has done probably more harm than good. An investigative drama in three acts...
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

What If Time Doesn’t Exist?

What if time, as Aristotle claimed, doesn’t exist independent of motion? Maybe I should add another warning: strictly speaking, this isn’t about chronological time (in case you’re looking at your watch), but about what Whitehead, Deleuze and others discussed as “ontological” time…
Embracing the Good Life in Times of Constant Change: In Defense of Stoicism (& Philosophy in General)

5 STEPS TO SAINTHOOD: The Societal (Dys)Function Of Simplistic Leadership Models

People often point out that our language should be simpler. Or the graphics neater. Or the call to action easier. Maybe we could at least "bring it down to 20 words per slide". I'm sorry, but the answer is no. Simplicity is not really what we are striving for.
“We Should Never Judge Others” — or: The Three Most Dangerous Tales About Postmodern Ethics

Knowledge = Power?

Let’s assume: KNOWLEDGE = POWER. But what if… KNOWLEDGE = Fn(Self)? Then it would follow that knowledge becomes power only if we understand our identity in terms of the amount of power we wield. The only knowledge we value is that which makes us more powerful.