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The Virtues of Relational Equality at Work

Grant J. Rozeboom ()
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Grant J. Rozeboom: Saint Mary’s College of California

Humanistic Management Journal, 2022, vol. 7, issue 2, No 7, 307-326

Abstract: Abstract How important is it for managers to have the “nice” virtues of modesty, civility, and humility? While recent scholarship has tended to focus on the organizational consequences of leaders having or lacking these traits, I want to address the prior, deeper question of whether and how these traits are intrinsically morally important. I argue that certain aspects of modesty, civility, and humility have intrinsic importance as the virtues of relational equality – the attitudes and dispositions by which we relate as moral equals. I provide a novel account of the normative grounds of the virtues of relational equality and develop a corresponding framework for how these virtues can be enacted by managers. The virtues are grounded in the value of opposing objectionable forms of social hierarchy, which requires social norms that grant all persons the same personal authority over their lives and interactions. I show how this view of virtue contrasts with prevailing Aristotelian, Personalist, and Smithian views in business ethics. I then explain how, for managers, sustaining and enacting the virtues of relational equality involves a distinctive cluster of role-specific traits: respect for employees’ equal personal authority, a commitment to express such respect, and a disposition to give equal weight and deference to employees’ relevant interests.

Keywords: Relational equality; Virtue ethics; Managerial virtue; Modesty; Civility; Humility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s41463-022-00129-1

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