“We need to think not only about what is the right, but about what is good. How can business build something that is actually good. We need to understand how the right and the good can work together.” – Ed Freeman

SEASON 2: "Leading for good"

Today's world is complex and defies simple answers. In order to progress, we need to reflect and explore, unlearn and rediscover, and engage with our heads, hearts, hands and souls. Together, we need to learn how to become the conscious and caring leaders humanity needs.

In our interview series “Leaders for Humanity” we plan to ask global thought leaders three simple questions: a) What is Good?, b) What is a Good Organisation?, c) How can we become Good, individually and collectively? Our hope is that, over time, these dialogues will help to shape and guide our evolving narrative. And we are extremely proud to present you an exceptional group of thought leaders in our "second Season"!

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

Never miss an interview! Just go to YouTube and subscribe to our Good Organisations channel for all upcoming interviews and all our new videos!

Jump directly to the recordings (available once published)



The Tipping Point:Can Stakeholder Theory Save Our Planet?

NOW AVAILABLE: The recording & some of our preferred quotes

You can find the full transcript of the video at the bottom. Please note it is automatically generated and hence will contain spelling mistakes.
Podcast version of the webcast on Spotify
Podcast version of the webcast on Anchor
Podcast version of the webcast on Anchor
The transcript is generated automatically via AI and might contain small errors

pre-reading, links and selected materials

Keywords: stakeholder theory, CSR, stakeholder capitalism, common good, business ethics, care ethics, pragmatism, ethical leadership, just capitalism, Rorty, Dewey, positivism, empiricism, sociotechnical systems,  network organisations

Ed's website with lots of interesting information

A site with lots of information on stakeholder theory, including Ed's brilliant TEDx video mentioned in the interview.

Overview of Ed Freeman's articles on Google Scholar

Resources on Stakeholder Theory, including Ed's stimulating Tedx presentation mentioned during the interview

Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that considers words and thought as tools and instruments for prediction, problem solving, and action, and rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality.

Drawing on various pragmatists Frank Martela is outlining how pragmatism can be seen as an attitude: “Pragmatism, in contrast, ”unstiffens all our theories”, treats them as instruments that are used for certain purposes and that are always open to be molded in the future (Ibid., 26). Pragmatism as an attitude for James is an attitude that denounces all ”supposed necessities” (Ibid., 27), accepts the contingency of stream of experiencing, and instead anchors the value of theories, ideas and concepts to their practical bearings in human life.” 

In this chapter, we argue that the moral foundation of the descriptive pillar, pragmatism, provides a moral foundation for twenty-first century stakeholder theory. As we show, pragmatism and its close cousin pluralism fits a stakeholder theory concerned with the descriptive questions that characterize current work in stakeholder theory. Pragmatism and pluralism both see eudemonia, or human flourishing, as the outcome of moral choice. Stakeholder theory also advances an agenda of human flourishing, as positive relationships between businesses and their stakeholders contributes to individual and societal eudemonia

We bring the distinct and complementary existentialist perspectives of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to bear on the phenomenon of moral disengagement in managerial decision-making. Existentialist thinking is a rich source of insight on this phenomenon, because—as we demonstrate—the concept of moral disengagement overlaps significantly with the notion of ‘a consciousness in bad faith’in Sartre’s writing, and the notion of ‘not willing oneself free’in De Beauvoir’s writing.

Values are central to the idea of “responsible leadership” and most modern discussions of business ethics are connected in a variety of ways to the concept of “values.” While there are several feasible ways to interpret the idea of “values,” most accounts assume that it makes sense to talk about both individual and corporate values. 1 Indeed, in recent times, business ethicists have proposed that we stop separating “business” from “ethics” and instead integrate values into our basic understanding of how we create value and trade with each other.

Pragmatists believe that philosophical inquiry must engage closely with practice to be useful and that practice serves as a source of social norms. As a growing alternative to the analytic and continental philosophical traditions, pragmatism is well suited for research in business ethics, but its role remains underappreciated. This article focuses on Richard Rorty, a key figure in the pragmatist tradition. We read Rorty as a source of insight about the ethical and political nature of business practice in contemporary global markets, focusing specifically on his views about moral sentiments, agency, and democratic deliberation.

In this article, we will outline the principles of stakeholder capitalism and describe how this view rejects problematic assumptions in the current narratives of capitalism. Traditional narratives of capitalism rely upon the assumptions of competition, limited resources, and a winner-take-all mentality as fundamental to business and economic activity. These approaches leave little room for ethical analysis, have a simplistic view of human beings, and focus on value-capture rather than value-creation.

Interview with Ed Freeman: “We discussed some of the accompanying critiques of stakeholder capitalism that have been frequent over the past couple weeks, whether alleging the approach is misguided, impossible to truly achieve, or nothing more than “woke” nonsense. To him, these are variations of the same arguments that have existed for decades, from critics who are unwilling or unable to see shareholder and stakeholder value as linked. He also believes that the stakeholder movement has momentum beyond a tipping point. “There’s no going back,” he said.

Although stakeholder theory and corporate social responsibility (CSR) have evolved into major theoretical frameworks for exploring social issues in management, there is a limited and often misleading understanding of the relationship between them that inhibits the management field from adopting a social orientation to a full extent.

The Business Roundtable recently issued a statement defining the purpose of the corporation in stakeholder terms, a direct and intended reversal from an earlier statement that defined the duty of directors as serving the interests of stockholders. In this editorial, we briefly describe the major twists and turns in the stockholders-versus-stakeholders debate that make this statement so significant to management theory and practice.

American Pragmatism and responsible management: The role of John Dewey. Each profession, along with requiring from its members specific skills and knowledge, also imposes on them duties and responsibilities. Responsibilities in management come both in a narrow sense–responsibility to the profession, and in a broader sense–responsibility to the society where the profession is given an opportunity to thrive.

Freeman discusses how responsible management might help to overcome the ‘management sucks’ narrative by reinventing management.

This paper aims to integrate insights from psychoanalytic theory into business ethics research on the sources of ethical failures within organizations. We particularly draw from the analysis of sources and outcomes of neurotic processes that are part of human development, as described by the psychoanalyst Karen Horney and more recently by Manfred Kets de Vries; we interpret their insights from a stakeholder theory perspective.

The purpose of this chapter is to examine an approach to both business and business ethics that has come to be called “stakeholder theory.”

The authors argue that stakeholder theory has retained certain "masculinist" assumptions from the wider business literature that limit its usefulness. The resources of feminist thought, specifically the work of Carol Gilligan, provide a means of reinterpreting the stakeholder concept in a way that overcomes many of the existing limitations.

Organization Studies and the New Pragmatism: Positivism, Anti-Positivism, and the Search for Ethics (Andrew C. Wicks and R. Edward Freeman 1998)

By positioning stake-holder pragmatism more in line with the democratic and ethical base in American pragmatism (as developed by William James, John Dewey and Richard Rorty), the article sets forth a fallibilistic stakeholder pragmatism that seeks to be more useful to companies by expanding the ways in which value is and can be created in a contingent world.  (Tommy Jensen, 2012)

Stakeholder theory begins with the assumption that values are necessarily and explicitly a part of doing business. It asks managers to articulate the shared sense of the value they create, and what brings its core stakeholders together. It also pushes managers to be clear about how they want to do business, specifically what kinds of relationships they want and need to create with their stakeholders to deliver on their purpose.

This (upcoming) book is a collection of Ed Freeman’s most influential and important works on stakeholder theory as well as business ethics, humanities, and capitalism.

Other resources mentioned during the interview

Transaction cost economics (TCE), and more specifically the version of TCE that has been developed by Oliver Williamson, has become an increasingly important anchor for the analysis of a wide range of strategic and organizational issues of considerable importance to firms. As argued by some of its key proponents. the theory aims not only to explain but also to influence practice (Masten, 1993). In this article. we argue that prescriptions drawn from this theory are likely to be not only wrong but also dangerous for corporate managers because of the assumptions and logic on which it is grounded.

An independent nonprofit equipping the market with the data, tools, and insights to deliver on the promise of stakeholder capitalism and an economy that works for all Americans

"Two Dogmas of Empiricism" is a paper by analytic philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine published in 1951. According to University of Sydney professor of philosophy Peter Godfrey-Smith, this "paper [is] sometimes regarded as the most important in all of twentieth-century philosophy".[1] The paper is an attack on two central aspects of the logical positivists' philosophy: the first being the analytic–synthetic distinction between analytic truths and synthetic truths, explained by Quine as truths grounded only in meanings and independent of facts, and truths grounded in facts; the other being reductionism, the theory that each meaningful statement gets its meaning from some logical construction of terms that refer exclusively to immediate experience.

“Two Dogmas” was to demonstrate that logical positivism was possible solely due to unjustified assumptions. Quine aimed to point out that the rescuing of empiricism was possible only if another, holistic approach was accepted. (Artur Koterski)

The question of the relationship of the making of value judgments in a typically ethical sense to the methods and procedures of science has been discussed in the literature at least to that point which e. e. cummings somewhere refers to as "The Mystical Moment of Dullness." Nevertheless, albeit with some trepidation, I feel that something more may fruitfully be said on the subject.  (Richard Rudner)

Jim Collins — A Rare Interview with a Reclusive Polymath | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast/youtube)

Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational work design that recognizes the interaction between people and technology in workplaces. The term also refer to coherent systems of human relations, technical objects, and cybernetic processes that inhere to large, complex infrastructures. Social society, and its constituent substructures, qualify as complex sociotechnical systems. The term sociotechnical systems was coined by Eric Trist, Ken Bamforth and Fred Emery, based on their work with workers in English coal mines at the Tavistock Institute in London.

As value chains become longer with increases in outsourcing and subcontracting, the challenges of fixing responsibility become more difficult. Using concepts from the literature on social networks, this paper considers issues of diffusion of responsibility and plausible deniability in such relationships. Specifically, this paper isolates three sources of denial of – or defense against – attributions of responsibility: connection, control and knowledge. (Robert A. Phillips)

Many parallels can be drawn between organizational and individual pathologies. We believe that the fantasies of top executives and the neurotic styles to which they give rise are important determinants of the nature of organizational dysfunctions. (Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Danny Miller)

For the past 2000 years, the dominant morality in the West, according to Nietzsche, has been an “anti-natural” morality, which, in his words, turns “against the instincts of life”. Nietzsche foresaw this morality as reigning over the Western world for the foreseeable future, and was to him “the danger of dangers” – a morality in which all individuals, even those with the potential to rise above the mediocre mass, are pressured into becoming a "herd animal".  (video)

"I am therefore almost inclined to suggest that you require from your laureates an oath of humility, a sort of hippocratic oath, never to exceed in public pronouncements the limits of their competence. Or you ought at least, on conferring the prize, remind the recipient of the sage counsel of one of the great men in our subject, Alfred Marshall, who wrote: 'Students of social science, must fear popular approval: Evil is with them when all men speak well of them'".

How to lead in a world where leadership extends to a whole range of stakeholders inside and outside an organization

by Nicola Pless (Editor), Thomas Maak (Editor)

The Power of And offers a new narrative about the nature of business, revealing the focus on responsibility and ethics that unites today’s most influential ideas and companies.

by R. Edward Freeman (Author), Bidhan L. Parmar (Author), Kirsten Martin (Author)

Business can be understood as a system of how we create value for stakeholders. This worldview connects business and capitalism with ethics once and for all.

by R. Edward Freeman (Author)

This book examines the body of research related to Stakeholder Theory and assesses its relevance for our understanding of modern business.

by R. Edward Freeman (Author)

This book offers a case-study approach to stakeholder theory that moves beyond theoretical analysis to the applied.

by R. Edward Freeman (Editor), Johanna Kujala (Editor), Sybille Sachs (Editor)

This book presents a number of tools that managers can use to implement stakeholder thinking, better understand stakeholders and create value with and for them.

by R. Edward Freeman (Author), Jeffery S. Harrison (Author), Stelios Zyglidopoulos (Author)

This book presents a method that might be called an Aristotelian common-sense approach to ethical decision making.

by Ronald Duska (Author), Norman E. Bowie (Editor), Patricia H. Werhane (Editor)

The Blackwell Guide to Business Ethics acquaints the reader with theoretical and pedagogical ethical issues in the practice of business

Norman E. Bowie

Managing for Stakeholders helps leaders develop a mindset that asks the Value Creation Question: How can we create as much value as possible for all of our stakeholders?

by R Edward Freeman (Author), Jeffrey S Harrison (Author), Andrew C Wicks (Author)

Although it is on occasion useful to distinguish between factual claims and value judgments, it positively harmful when identified with a dichotomy between objective and purely "subjective."

by Hilary Putnam (Author)

In A Theory of Justice Rawls assumed a "well-ordered society". Now Rawls asks how a just society can live in concord when divided by reasonable but incompatible doctrines?

by John Rawls (Author)

Marking a new stage in the evolution of his thought, Rorty’s final masterwork identifies anti-authoritarianism as the principal impulse and virtue of pragmatism.

by Richard Rorty (Author)

The best professionals rely less on formulas learned in graduate school than on the kind of improvisation learned in practice.

by Donald A. Schön (Author)

Plato brought a richness and complexity to common ideas about the nature and purpose of leadership. Rather than attempting to give a single 'one-size-fits-all' definition, his strategy was to break it into its different strands.

by Dominic Scott (Author), R. Edward Freeman (Author)

In Development as Freedom Amartya Sen explains how in a world of unprecedented increase in overall opulence millions of people living in the Third World are still unfree.

by Amartya Sen (Author)

This book is about humanizing business. The volume travels outside the world of business to explore what Humanities – such as Philosophy, History, Literature, Creative Arts, and Cultural Studies – can offer to business.

by Michel Dion (Editor), R. Edward Freeman (Editor), Sergiy D. Dmytriyev (Editor)

Standing at the crossroads of psychology and religion, this catalyzing work applied the scientific method to a field abounding in abstract theory.

by William James (Author), Martin E Marty (Introduction, Editor)

If you have philosophical inclinations and want a good workout, this conscientious scrutiny of moral assumptions and expressions will be most rewarding.

by Alan Donagan (Author)

our key takeaways

The Best Bits from Leaders for Humanity with Ed Freeman

In our interview, we examine both theoretical bases and practical implications of a pragmatic “stakeholder approach” to business ethics, in contrast to CSR and other models. We examine the need to develop a better narrative for business and discuss how a new purpose and strategy can be effectively operationalised. We also discuss the development of ethical leadership and the role of business schools. What resultated was a truly brilliant and vibrant conversation.
leaders for humanity season 2


Spiral Dynamics Continued: From Democracy towards Crowdocracy

NOW AVAILABLE: The recording & some of our preferred quotes

You can find the full transcript of the video at the bottom. Please note it is automatically generated and hence will contain spelling mistakes.
Podcast version of the webcast on Spotify
Podcast version of the webcast on Anchor
The transcript is generated automatically via AI and might contain small errors

pre-reading, links and selected materials

Keywords: spiral dynamics, organisational change, wisdom, wisdom of the crowds, democracy, teal, holacracy, sociocracy, crowdocracy, leadership development, vertical development, 4D Leadership, moral development

Complete Coaching and Development. Several white papers also at: https://complete-coherence.com/white-papers/

Further resources and information about Alan on video

Dr. Alan Watkins, founder of Complete Coherence, introduces the key phases of human development and explains why poor emotional control is holding back progress. He asks us to imagine a world where we never have to feel anything we don’t want to feel; where we have complete control of what we feel and when we feel it.

Alan's TEDx talk about brilliance every single day

Another one of Alan's TEDx talk about solving the toughest issues today

Dr. Alan Watkins, physician, psychologist, immunologist and co-author of 'HR (R)Evolution: Change The Workplace, Change The World', takes HR leaders to task on dealing with mental health and lights a path to a brighter future for mental health in the workplace.

We must develop the emotional skills to survive and lead through any disruption.

Ted Talk by Sheena Iyengar. Alan recommended it when he spoke about identity, collectivism and individualism in the East and the West

We mentioned Neighborocracy as an interesting phenomenon in India addressing the failure of democracies.

Some interesting information about the famous parable of the blind men and an elephant

Some diagrams from Alan's books that illustrate the concepts mentioned during the interview. Many thanks to Jack Watkins for having kindly provided these!

Connecting the interview with other dialogues
We mention Bill's leadership development methodology in the interview - you can find our interview with Bill and many related resources and references, as well as several of his books for free download on our Season 1 web page
We mention Emanuele's work on comparative organisational development - you can find extensive resources on sociocracy, holacracy, Rendanheyi etc in the references related to our interview
We also reference our conversation with Paul about Democratic Socialism. You can find more materials, including our discussion about the challenge of "scaling" decentralised governance systems there.

Link to Bryan Ungard's fantastic website, curated by Beatrice Ungard. We mention Bryan, the former Chief Purpose Officer of Decurion, in the context of "Deliberately Developmental Organisations" (Decurion is referenced in Bob Kegan's book). In Bryan's interpretation - and contrary to the concept of "learning" - the notion of "development"  is primarily about "Letting Go". You will find some of Bryan's insightful and thought-provoking presentations here.

Vertical Development refers to advancement in a person’s thinking capability. The outcome of vertical stage development is the ability to think in more complex, systemic, strategic, and interdependent ways. It is about how you think, which we can measure through stage development interviews and surveys.

There is an important difference between helping a leader grow and trying to force her to. Horizontal growth within a stage is just as important as vertical growth beyond a stage. Your job is not to force development on someone. Your job is to create the right conditions in which someone can grow. Challenge and support, but don’t force

In case interested in the notion of "transpersonal leadership", you can find many of John Knight's interesting resources here - built around his renowned book "leading beyond the ego"

We are mentioning several challenges to the concept of "Spiral Dynamics" and also our previous work on "Why Teal is Wrong". Below further information and selected critical perspectives - always in the spirit of enhancing our capacity for critical thinking...

Kenneth Earl Wilber II (born January 31, 1949) is an American philosopher and writer on transpersonal psychology and his own integral theory, a philosophy which suggests the synthesis of all human knowledge and experience. Wilber is credited with broadening the appeal of a "perennial philosophy" to a much wider audience. Cultural figures as varied as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Deepak Chopra, Richard Rohr, and musician Billy Corgan have mentioned his influence. However, Wilber's approach has been criticized as excessively categorizing and objectifying, masculinist, commercializing spirituality, and denigrating of emotion.

Presentation from the Teal Around The World summit 2021 going into some depth about some challenges with the "philosophy behind" Teal #TATW21

„We need to start the transformation with ourselves“ - 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.

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.

For nearly two decades, the theory of Spiral Dynamics has been used to dynamically model human evolution and information systems. In that time, however, many different versions and applications of the model have emerged. This article will diachronically trace the history of Spiral Dynamics, from the foundational theory of Clare Graves to its initial introduction by Don Beck and Chris Cowan and subsequent adaptation by Ken Wilber. A brief exploration of the various camps and their competing interpretations of Spiral Dynamics will permit some critical analysis of the model itself. (Butters)

Major proponents of Spiral Dynamics claim that Graves’ Levels of Existence are scientific. In reality Graves has only
published one article on his Levels of Existence in a scientific journal. (Graves 1970) This article itself is devoid of any scientific data. The lack of scientific data makes Spiral Dynamics a pseudoscience. (Joost van der Leij)

Spiral Dynamics contradicts physics and biology, and the proponents try to give the impression of it being science-based, and do not accept the scientific method. The claim that we will be the first species to let go of our competitive nature is as unsubstantiated as it is ridiculous. (Vermeren)

We need to change our view of change and see it for the opportunity it really is. Step Change: The Leader’s Journey helps leaders to become gifted and skilful at moving through the change process

by Alan Watkins (Author)

Wicked & Wise is the compelling launch title in a groundbreaking new series exploring hotly debated issues facing the planet and its people, and offering unique ways to tackle seemingly intractable social and cultural challenges.

by Alan Watkins (Author), Ken Wilber (Author)

Most leaders are operating nowhere near their optimal level of performance. In this book, Dr Alan Watkins helps leaders at every level understand how they can transform their output and unlock their true potential.

by Alan Watkins (Author)

Crowdocracy: The End of Politics discusses one of the world’s most debated and critical issues – who decides our futureand how should we be governed?

by Alan Watkins (Author), Iman Stratenus (Author)

Businesses spend billions on innovation with very little to show for their investment or effort. This book challenges some of the ‘ingrained truths’ of innovation and suggests a different approach.

by Alan Watkins (Author), Simon May (Author)

The HR (R)Evolution describes the "Seven Great Waves" of change and explains how each wave impacted business. It’s for leaders who recognise that people issues are the central challenge of our time.

by Alan Watkins (Author), Nick Dalton (Author)

Today's leaders need to change radically to meet the challenge of complex organizations. This requires a step-change in development in three fundamental dimensions: how you do things, who you are, and how you relate to other people.

by Alan Watkins (Author)

Spiral Dynamics (SD) is a model of the evolutionary development of individuals, organizations, and societies. It was initially developed by Don Edward Beck and Christopher Cowan based on the emergent cyclical theory of Clare W. Graves,

Don Edward Beck

Spiral Dynamics in Action explores the evolution of modern business, and provides a model for moving forward amidst ever-increasing complexity and change.

by Don Edward Beck (Author), Teddy Hebo Larsen (Author), Sergey Solonin (Author), Dr. Rica Viljoen (Author), Thomas Q. Johns (Author)

Business success depends on the ability to build trust. Trusted leaders inspire followers, grow companies, revenues, and futures. Sadly, deceit has infected business and become widespread.

by Alan Watkins (Author), Simon Jones (Author)

A provocative examination of how the great religious traditions can remain relevant in modern times by incorporating scientific truths learned about human nature over the last century.

by Ken Wilber (Author)

An edifying view of Buddhism from one of today's leading philosophers: a look at its history and foundational teachings, how it fits into modern society, and how it (and other world religions) will evolve.

by Ken Wilber (Author)

A provocative and balanced examination of our current social and political situation -- by a cutting-edge philosopher of our times.

by Ken Wilber (Author)

Wilber traces human development from infancy into adulthood and beyond, into those states described by mystics and spiritual adepts.

by Ken Wilber (Author)

A leader in transpersonal psychology presents the first truly integrative model of spiritual consciousness and Western developmental psychology

by Ken Wilber (Author)

A concise, comprehensive overview of the "M Theory" and its application in today's world, by a renowned American philosopher

by Ken Wilber (Author)

Ken Wilber explores the ways science, which seeks truth, and religion, which seeks meaning, might be reconciled to further human happiness.

by Ken Wilber (Author)

This masterfully crafted book interweaves conversations between Campbell and some of the people he inspired

by Joseph Campbell (Author)

Arguing that mature masculinity is not abusive or domineering, Moore and Gillette provide a Jungian introduction to the psychological foundations of a mature, authentic, and revitalized masculinity.

by Moore (Author), Robert (Author), Gillette (Author), Douglas (Author)

In most organizations nearly everyone is doing a second job no one is paying them for--namely, covering their weaknesses, trying to look their best, and managing other people's impressions of them.

by Robert Kegan (Author), Lisa Laskow Lahey (Author), Matthew L Miller (Author), Andy Fleming (Author), Deborah Helsing (Author)

Using ancient self-care techniques rediscovered by Herbert Benson, M.D., a pioneer in mind/body medicine for health and wellness, you can relieve your stress, anxiety, and depression

by MD Herbert Benson (Author), Miriam Z Klipper (Author)

ecisions taken by a large group, even if the individuals within the group aren't smart, are always better than decisions made by small numbers of 'experts'.

by James Surowiecki (Author)

This book asks why it is that the things we value most – from the environment to frontline workers to keeping children well fed and educated – are so often neglected by the market.

by Mark Carney (Author)

Margaret Heffernan shows in this eye-opening look at competition, that it regularly produces just what we don't want: rising levels of fraud, cheating, stress, inequality and political stalemate.

by Margaret Heffernan (Author)

This practical guide offers an approach to organizational change based on the possibility of a more desirable future, experience with the whole system, and activities that signal ""something different is happening this time."

by David L. Cooperrider (Author), Diana Whitney (Author)

Upswing is Robert Putnam's brilliant analysis of economic, social, cultural and political trends, showing how America went from an individualistic ‘I’ society to a more communitarian ‘We’ society and back again

by Robert D Putnam (Author), Shaylyn Romney Garrett (Author)

If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful.

by Nick Bostrom (Author)

our key takeaways

leaders for humanity season 2


Re-enchanting our Organisations: Making Work Meaningful

NOW AVAILABLE: The recording & podcast

You can find the full transcript of the video at the bottom. Please note it is automatically generated and hence will contain spelling mistakes.
Podcast version of the webcast on Spotify
Podcast version of the webcast on Anchor
The transcript is generated automatically via AI and might contain small errors

pre-reading, links and selected materials

Keywords: philosophy, psychology, positive psychology, SDT, significance, benevolence, self-realisation, eudaimonia, meaning of life, meaningfulness, meaningful work, relational ontology, pragmatism, happiness, well-being, caring connections

Overview of Frank's research

Insights and blog about Franks' book on the wonderful life.

In this article together with Frank Steger the existing literature is reviewed. Despite growing interest in meaning in life, many have voiced their concern over the conceptual refinement of the construct itself. Researchers seem to have two main ways to understand what meaning in life means: coherence and purpose, with a third way, significance, gaining increasing attention. Coherence means a sense of comprehensibility and one’s life making sense. Purpose means a sense of core goals, aims, and direction in life. Significance is about a sense of life’s inherent value and having a life worth living

Research on meaningful work has proliferated in recent years, with an increasing understanding of the centrality of meaningfulness for work-related motivation, commitment, and well-being. However, ambiguity around the main construct, ‘meaningful work’, has hindered this progress as various researchers have used partly overlapping, partly differing conceptualizations. To bring clarity to this issue, we examine a broad range of various definitions of meaningful work and come to argue that meaningfulness in the broadest sense is about work significance as an overall evaluation of work as regards whether it is intrinsically valuable and worth doing. (Article with Anne Pessi)

Article by W.A Kahn: People can use varying degrees of their selves, physically, cognitively, and emotionally, in work role performances, which has implications for both their work and experiences. The article describes and illustrates three psychological conditions—meaningfulness, safety, and availability— and their individual and contextual sources. These psychological conditions are linked to existing theoretical concepts, and directions for future research are described.
Beadle and Knight assume a virtue ethics perspective and seek to bring the insights of McIntyre together with empirical research on meaningful work.
In this article Richard Ryan and Frank Martela start with a discussion of eudaimonia as originally used by Aristotle and his contemporaries. We argue that eudaimonia should not be understood as referring to any kind of subjective experience or ‘richer feeling of happiness’ but is rather about a good and valued way of living that can produce happiness, vitality and wellness as its byproducts. Furthermore, eudaimonia is especially found in those manners of living and pursuits that reflect our positive human nature. Based on self-determination theory, we then suggest a number of ways of living that we see as good candidates for an eudaimonic way of living: pursuing intrinsic goals, living autonomously, being mindful, and being benevolent

Pro‐social behaviors have been associated with enhanced well‐being, but what psychological mechanisms explain this connection? Some theories suggest that beneficence—the sense of being able to give—inherently improves well‐being, whereas evidence from self‐determination theory (Weinstein & Ryan, 2010) shows that increases in well‐being are mediated by satisfaction of innate psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Here we simultaneously assess these two explanations. (Article with Richard Ryan)

Self-determination theory (SDT) maintains that an understanding of human motivation requires a consideration of innate psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. We discuss the SDT concept of needs as it relates to previous need theories, emphasizing that needs specify the necessary conditions for psychological growth, integrity, and well-being. (Article by Ed Deci and Richard Ryan)

Building on John Dewey’s work, this article develops a position where the fallible nature of all knowledge is acknowledged and the value of science is anchored to its ability to resolve genuine human problems. It is argued that this kind of ontological experientialism and epistemological fallibilistic instrumentalism offers the most original and defensible version of pragmatism as a philosophy of science.

M.J. Browns articles unfolds the core of Dewey’s philosophy of science which is his theory of inquiry—what he called “logic.” There is a major lacuna in the literature on this point, however: no contemporary philosophers of science have engaged with Dewey’s logical theory, and scholars of Dewey’s logic have rarely made connections with philosophy of science. This article aims to fill this gap, to correct some significant errors in the interpretation of key ideas in Dewey’s logical theory, and to show how Dewey’s logic provides resources for a philosophy of science.
J. Marco writes: "Abductive inference presents to our sight one of the most inscrutable poker faces imaginable. Indeed, it has recently been referred to as "the fundamental problem of contemporary epistemology". As it is probably the darkest aspect of the already mysterious phenomenon of human intelligence, the precise nature of the abductive inference continues to elude many of our best efforts at under- standing it. After all, it is in this form of inference that the creative powers of the human intellect meet reality most directly and shape the world to its own purposes; and one suspects that the level of difficulty passed in understanding even our own finite creativity is not too far off from that of understanding the analogous act carried out by god at the beginning of time."
Together with his former phd-supervisor Saarinen, Frank here writes: "Following the relational turn in psychoanalytic theorizing, the systems metaphor has increasingly become a part of the therapeutic vocabulary. This has led to a view of therapy as an ongoing process in which the mutual interplay between the analyst and the patient cocreates a systemic higher level dimension that is based on bidirectional and jointly coordinated, simultaneous forms of interaction that influence the mental processes and regulatory patterns of both of the participants thus creating possibilities for creative therapeutic interventions."
In his phd thesis Martela writes: "Connections with others make up the fabric of daily life within organizations. Caregiving – understood broadly – takes place on a daily basis. Engagement in such caring situations has been found to be highly beneficial for both the caregiver and the cared-for. (...) Four different types of caring situations are found: 1) Instrumental caretaking, in which some need is taken care of without either person being engaged in the situation, 2) unmet call for caring, in which the cared-for reaches out to form a connection with the caregiver who remains emotionally detached from the situation, 3) one-sided caregiving, in which the caregiver engages with the cared-for in a warm and tender way but the recipient of care remains disengaged, and 4) caring connection, in which both participants engage emotionally with each other, thus allowing for the formation of a reciprocal, high-quality connection between them.

Re-enchantment taps well into the current zeitgeist: The rising focus on emotions and post-material values also in organizational context. Enchantment is deeply tied to socially generated emotions. Our aim is to develop the concept of copassion, referring to the process of responding to the positive emotion of a fellow human being. Concepts are crucial as they shape our understanding of the world. Our core claim is relating to our colleagues’ positive emotions not only enables and maintains but also fosters enchantment at work. In this article, by laying the ground by discussing enchantment and the theoretical framework of intersubjectivity, we will link copassion to the physiological and evolutionary basis of humans, as well as explore its conceptual neighbors. (written with Anne Birgitta Pessi, Anna Martta Seppänen, Jenni Spännäri, Henrietta Grönlund, Frank Martela, Miia Paakkanen)

From 2013 until today, every time the World Happiness Report (WHR) has published its annual ranking of countries, the five Nordic countries–Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland–have all been in the top ten, with Nordic countries occupying the top three spots in 2017, 2018, and 2019. What exactly makes Nordic citizens so exceptionally satisfied with their lives? This is the question that this chapter aims to answer. (written together with Bent Greve, Bo Rothstein, Juho Saari)
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.

Connecting the interview with other dialogues
Frank is also a pragmatist and it is interesting to compare the approaches of Ed Freeman and Frank Martela.
We discussed with Simon Western about the need for reenchantment of the world while Frank has written a paper on this topic. Plus both share a deep knowledge about care institutions.

Wonderful Life. Insights on Finding a Meaningful Existence.

by Frank Martela

The Meaning of Life. A Reader.

Edited by E.D. Klemke and Steven M. Cahn

Beyond Realism and Antirealism: John Dewey and the Neopragmatists.

by David L. Hildebrand

The Social Construction of Reality.

by J.R. Searle

Man's Search for Meaning

by Viktor E. Frankl

Dialogues of Plato

The Morality of Happiness

by Julia Annas

Systems Intelligence – A New Lens on Human Engagement and Action

edited by Raimo P. Hämäläinen and Esa Saarinen

Narcissus and Goldmund is contrasting the careers of two friends, one of whom goes on the road, tangled in the extremes of life, the other staying in the monastery and struggling to lead a life of spiritual denial.

by Hermann Hesse (Author)

Every weekend, in basements and parking lots across the country, young men with good white-collar jobs and absent fathers take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded for as long as they have to.

by Chuck Palahniuk (Author)

Willpower - 12 Tools For Doing The Right Thing

by Frank Martela

Escape from Freedom

by Erich Fromm

our key takeaways

The Best Bits from Leaders for Humanity with Frank Martela - Re-enchanting our Organisations: Making Work Meaningful

In our interview, we discuss the notion of morality in the context of John Dewey’s pragmatism, as well as similarities and differences between (psychological) self-determination theory and (philosophical) virtue ethics. We review how organisations can establish “caring connections” and “meaningfulness” at work, examine critical blockers on the way to becoming more self-managing organisations, and explore the relevance of emotions and systems intelligence on the journey.
leaders for humanity season 2

JANE DUTTON and monica worline

Positive Organisational Scholarship: From Suffering to Flourishing!

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Our YouTube premiere is coming up soon!

pre-reading, links and selected materials

Keywords: Positive organisational scholarship, compassion, high quality interactions, constructionism, positive leadership, thriving, courage, identity and identification, job crafting

Janes' private homepage with links to her areas of expertise, paper, blogs and much more

With a selection to her practical as well as scholarly activities.

A labor of love of many great compassion researchers!

Jane Dutton and Monica Worline have written "Awakening Compassion at Work" together. The bookpage features beautiful practical tips and "compassion wisdom".

Jane Dutton

A model is developed to explain how images of one's work organization shape the strength of his or her identification with the organization. We focus on two key organizational images: one based on what a member believes is distinctive, central, and enduring about his or her organization and one based on a member's beliefs about what outsiders think about the organization. According to the model, members assess the attractiveness of these images by how well the image preserves the continuity of their self-concept, provides distinctiveness, and enhances self-esteem.

We propose that employees craft their jobs by changing cognitive, task, and/or relational boundaries to shape interactions and relationships with others at work. These altered task and relational configurations change the design and social environment of the job, which, in turn, alters work meanings and work identity. We offer a model of job crafting that specifies (1) the individual motivations that spark this activity, (2) how opportunities to job craft and how individual work orientations determine the forms job crafting takes, and (3) its likely individual and organizational effects.

"Pop-Article" in HBR: Twenty years ago, the authors started studying job crafting — the act of altering your job to make it more meaningful. Since then, they’ve identified different forms this concept can take. They include: task crafting, which involves changing the type, scope, sequence, and number of tasks that make up your job; relational crafting, where you alter who you interact with in your work; and cognitive crafting, where you modify the way you interpret the tasks and/or work you’re doing. The authors share stories of three individuals that illustrate what each of these types look like and how employees were able to make their jobs more meaningful and engaging.

From the forefathers of all job design research (Oldham and Hackman) who write here: This summary commentary explores the likely future directions of research and theory on thedesign of organizational work. We give special attention to the social aspects of contemporarywork, the process by which jobholders craft their own jobs, the changing contexts within whichwork is performed, and the increasing prominence of work that is performed by teams ratherthan individuals.

Human connections in organizations are vital. Whether they form as part of long-term relationships or brief encounters, all connections leave indelible traces. Organizations depend on individuals to interact and form connections to accomplish the work of the organization. Connections formed in work contexts, therefore, have a significant effect on people just by virtue of the time spent there (Hochschild, 1997). The quality of the connections, in tum, impacts how organizations function. Theories of human behavior in organizations need to take seriously the quality of connections between people to understand why people flourish or flounder and to unpack how they affect organizational functioning. In this chapter we respond to positive organizational scholarship's call to better understand how to build contexts that enable human flourishing by understanding the power of high-quality connections.

The core of this paper focuses on the different ways that interaction with others grant or deny felt worth. A paper built on qualitative research in hospitals.

Thriving describes an individual’s experience of vitality and learning. The primary goal of this paper is to develop a model that illuminates the social embeddedness of employees’ thriving at work. First, we explain why thriving is a useful theoretical construct, define thriving, and compare it to related constructs, including resilience, flourishing, subjective well-being, flow, and self-actualization.

In this article, the authors explore compassion in work organizations. They discuss the prevalence and costs of pain in organizational life, and identify compassion as an important process that can occur in response to suffering. At the individual level, compassion takes place through three subprocesses: noticing another’s pain, experiencing an emotional reaction to the pain, and acting in response to the pain. The authors build on this framework to argue that organizational compassion exists when members of a system collectively notice, feel, and respond to pain experienced by members of that system. These processes become collective as features of an organization’s context legitimate them within the organization, propagate them among organizational members, and coordinate them across individuals.

An article by Peter Frost - an inspiration to Jane Dutton and Monica Worline. There is a whole rich, vibrant, exciting world of understanding about organizational life that is waiting to be engaged, and one of the keys to this engagement is compassion. Compassion counts as a connection to the human spirit and to the human condition. In organizations there is suffering and pain, as there is joy and fulfillment. There is a need for dignity and self-respect in these settings, and to the extent that theories, models, and practices ignore these dimensions, so do they distort the understanding of life in these enterprises. Looking at organizations through the compassion lens brings this "disappeared" world into focus. Like that other C word - culture - invoking notions of compassion opens one's eyes to see organizations in new ways.

A highly inspiring and personal article: As the title suggestions, this article asks two basic questions of organizational scholars: How do we come alive in how we do our research? What do we look for in organizational contexts to see life? Drawing on personal experience and an extraordinary example of a life-filled unit in a billing department of a community hospital, this essay engages these two questions.

The underlying objective of the present research was to better understand the values and ethical decision making behavior of business students and, ultimately, to assess the impact of professional education on these values and behavior.

Monica Worline

We elaborate a theory of the foundations of a collective capability for compassion through a detailed analysis of everyday practices in an organizational unit. Our induced theory of compassion capability draws on the findings of an interview study to illustrate and explain how a specific set of everyday practices creates two relational conditions — high quality connections and a norm of dynamic boundary permeability — that enable employees of a collective unit to notice, feel and respond to members’ suffering. By articulating the mechanisms that connect everyday practices and a work unit’s compassion capability, we provide insight into the relational micro-foundations of a capability grounded in individual action and interaction.

We develop a theory to explain how individual compassion in response to human pain in organizations becomes socially coordinated through a process we call compassion organizing. The theory specifies five mechanisms, including contextual enabling of attention, emotion, and trust, agents improvising structures, and symbolic enrichment, that show how the social architecture of an organization interacts with agency and emergent features to affect the extraction, generation, coordination, and calibration of resources. In doing so, our theory of compassion organizing suggests that the same structures designed for the normal work of organizations can be redirected to a new purpose to respond to members' pain. We discuss the implications of the theory for compassion organizing and for collective organizing more generally.

A very moving article! On September 11, 2001, the passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93 responded to the hijacking of their airplane by organizing a counterattack against the hijackers. The airplane crashed into an unpopulated field, causing no damage to human lives or national landmarks beyond the lives of those aboard the airplane. We draw on this story of courageous collective action to explore the question of what makes this kind of action possible.

We engage in a conversation about the relevance of practice theory for management. We argue that management educators can use practice theory to help current and future managers develop intuitions that are useful for managing dynamic and complex situations, and we provide management educators with three orientations designed to help make practice theory practical. First, we introduce a way of thinking about practicality that orients to the everyday context of management. Second, we provide a primer on practice theory. Third, we illustrate the potential for the practicality of practice theory through the idea of resourcing and in-depth case examples of resourcing in practice. We conclude with suggestions for further development of this conversation.

Feldman and Orlikowski give an overview on "the practice ture". This paper describes the emerging field of practice theory as it is practiced in relation to organizational phenomena. We identify three approaches—empirical, theoretical, and philosophical—that relate to the what, the how, and the why of using a practice lens. We discuss three principles of the theoretical approach to practice and offer examples of how practice theory has been used in the organizational literature and in our own research. We end with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities that practice theory affords organizational scholarship

We are predisposed to thinking of emotions as our own, perhaps the most intimate parts of ourselves. Yet, more often than not, our emotions are inextricably bound up with other people and social worlds, with one of the most powerful of those being the organizational work context. The central premise of this article is that much of our social and emotional life is organizational.

To meet this suffering with compassion, we propose two clusters of practices central to teaching that lend themselves to helping management teachers see possibilities for more skillfully intertwining suffering and compassion. The first focuses on how management teachers can design the context for teaching in ways that make compassion more likely, focusing specifically on roles and networks. The second draws upon Honneth’s recognitional infrastructure to focus on how teachers can approach the relational practice of teaching with emphasis on enriching human recognition of suffering.

Awakening Compassion at Work

by Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton

Energize Your Workplace

by Jane Dutton

How to be a positive leader

by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer

Positive Organizational Scholarship. Foundations of a New Discipline

Edited by Kim S. Cameron, Jane E. Dutton, and Robert E. Quinn

The Oxford Handbook of Positive Organizational Scholarship

Edited by Kim Cameron and Gretchen Spreitzer

Emotion in Organizations

by Stephen Fineman

Relational Being

by Kenneth J. Gergen

Homo Ludens

by Johan Huizinga

Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within

by Robert E. Quinn

Tales of The Filed. On Writing Ethnography

by John van Maanen

The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory

Edited by Theodore R. Schatzki, Karin Knorr Cetina, and Eike von Savigny

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals

by Iris Murdoch
leaders for humanity season 2


How Capitalism Lost Happiness: Healing our Relationships To Heal Our World

leaders for humanity season 2


Fixing Organisational Transformation: Functional Stupidity and the Perils of Leadership

leaders for humanity SEASON 2


leaders for humanity SEASON 2


leaders for humanity SEASON 2


leaders for humanity SEASON 2


leaders for humanity SEASON 2


Beyond the Crisis of Neoliberalism: Towards Institutional & Economic Democracy

leaders for humanity season 2

gert biesta

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