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‘Other-wise’ Organizing. A Levinasian Approach to Agape in Work and Business Organisations

Harry Hummels () and Patrick Nullens ()
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Harry Hummels: Maastricht University
Patrick Nullens: University of Humanistic Studies

Humanistic Management Journal, 2022, vol. 7, issue 2, No 3, 232 pages

Abstract: Abstract Humanistic management emphasises the importance of respecting humanity in and through meaningful work within organisations. In this paper we introduce a Levinasian approach to organising. Levinas argues that the Other appeals to us and allows us to take responsibility towards the Other – i.c. an employee, a customer, a supplier, etcetera. In this article our focus is on employees. By taking the Other as a starting point of his reflections, Levinas helps to transform the organisation and management of work and humans in business organisations. Based on the concept of alterity and becoming susceptible to the appeal that comes to us through what Levinas refers to as the ‘face of the Other’, we argue that the philosopher calls for ‘an agapeic turn’ to management and organisation. This turn means that the focus on the well-being of the employee – and the needs, interests, ideas, and expectations as perceived by him or her – should be at the core of organising. As a result, this paper calls for an increased focus on self-determination and self-organisation to allow the Other both voice and control over her or his behaviour, actions and contributions to the outputs and outcomes of one’s organisational unit. Through our focus on a Levinas approach, we concretize and deepen the traditional understanding of agape, making it more relevant to our functioning in a business setting. As a result, agape is introduced as an analytical concept that guides the structuring and the effectuation of human interaction in and through organisations.

Keywords: Levinas; Agape; Self-organisation; Holacracy; Sociocracy; Leadership (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s41463-022-00132-6

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