A Confucian Approach to Self-Regulation in Management Ethics

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Peter Woods, Griffith Business School David Lamond, Faculty of Business & Law, Victoria University Presentation to the Griffith Asia Institute, April 22, 2010

Transcript of A Confucian Approach to Self-Regulation in Management Ethics

  • 1. A Confucian Approach to Self-Regulation in ManagementEthicsPeter Woods, Griffith Business SchoolDavid Lamond, Faculty of Business & Law, Victoria UniversityPresentation to the Griffith Asia Institute, April 22, 2010Griffith Business School
  • 2. OutlineSection One IntroductionSection Two Six Confucian Virtues Relevant to Ethical Self-Regulation in ManagementSection Three - Confucian Principles that Guide the Practice of Ethical ManagementSection Four Confucian Practices to Develop Self- RegulationSection Five - Potential Problems in Applying Confucian Ethics to Ethical Self-Regulation in ManagementGriffith Business School
  • 3. Section 1 - IntroductionGriffith Business School
  • 4. Scope Focus on the Analects Idealistic approach to practical issues Researching and communication primarily in an English speaking context Research question - What are the characteristics and practical applications of a Confucian approach to self- regulation within the context of management ethics?Griffith Business School
  • 5. Management Ethics Management ethics refers to the moral principles relevant to the practice of management (Jones et al., 2005). We define management practice as that of leading, organizing, controlling, and planning efficiently and effectively to achieve the goals of an organization (Davidson, Simon, Woods, & Griffin, 2009, p. 9). Thus, management ethics focuses on the moral issues associated with how a person manages an organization.Griffith Business School
  • 6. Self-Regulation and Management Ethics In Western business focused literature, self-regulation has mostly been discussed at the macro (industry) rather than micro (individual) level, as an alternative to government imposed regulation of firm behaviour (see, for example, Cunningham and Rees, 1994; and, more recently, Harker, 2008). The psychology literature explores self-regulation at the micro level as a systematic effort to regulate ones thoughts, feeling, and actions towards the attainment of ones goals (cfBandura, 1991a, 1991b, 1997; Zimmerman, 2000). What might a Confucian notion of self-regulation contribute to an understanding of ethical behavior in organizations?Griffith Business School
  • 7. Section 2 Six Confucian Virtues Relevant to EthicalSelf-Regulation in ManagementGriffith Business School
  • 8. Six Confucian Virtues Relevant to Ethical Self-Regulation Benevolence (ren) Righteousness (yi) Ritual propriety (li) Wisdom (zhi) Trustworthiness (xin) Filial piety (xiao)Griffith Business School
  • 9. Ren Benevolence or goodness (ren) - foundational principle in Confucian interpersonal relations Although not directly defined in the Analects, ren is mentioned over 100 times. Analects emphasiseRen as moral goodness (Dan, 2009, whereas post-Analect Confucian texts emphasise the idea of loving others (Li, 2008) With self-regulation of behavior, Confucian managers should act with empathy for others, while maintaining moral goodness, is in line with the principle of acting with benevolence.Griffith Business School
  • 10. Ren and Management Self-Regulation Ren(benevolence) is a primary leadership characteristic Underlying belief that relationships define an individuals humanity Self-regulation is refined and developed through the interactions involved in those relationships, rather than (but not excluding) processes of self-realization and self-discovery.Griffith Business School
  • 11. Righteousness Righteousness or uprightness (yi) relates to living and behaving according to moral principles, rather than focusing on material gain and self-interest (Fan, 2001) The Confucian manager then is required to use moral issues to regulate decision making rather than a short- term focus on material gains. Represents an ideal and a challenge for managers of for-profit organizationsGriffith Business School
  • 12. Ritual Propriety Ritual propriety (li) is harder to understand in the modern context The original concept relied on following the ancient rituals and sacrifices that were a part of court life in the time of Confucius. Even the Analects, however, broaden the idea to include the importance of following the social norms of polite conduct when interacting with others. Following the rituals and norms was believed to build self-regulation (Cheng, 2004), in a similar way to how marching drill and respectful protocols such as salutes are thought to play a part in reinforcing the self- discipline (regulation) of those serving in the military.Griffith Business School
  • 13. Wisdom Wisdom includes not only learning, but also recognition of the way (dao) and an ability to perceive situations accurately and make correct judgments (Romar, 2002). A crucial part of self-regulation, where an individual must be wise enough to perceive situations accurately and make the right decisions based on a wise evaluation of the options. Cheng (2004, p. 132) explains this as the zhi is the self-conscious active power of decision making and choice making based on recognition of a goal and thus more than a common will but a will to value.Griffith Business School
  • 14. Trustworthiness Trustworthiness (xin) indicates loyalty to moral principles, to ritual and social rules of propriety. Also refers to loyalty to ones superiors in hierarchical relationships, however the emphasis is on standing by ones word, or, more deeply, being a dependable support for others. This virtue serves a purpose in encouraging a person to self-regulate in following through on commitments made in relationships, but inevitably this causes ethical conflicts when the commitments made to different people are in conflict (for example, employees and superiors in wage negotiations).Griffith Business School
  • 15. Trustworthiness and the Wu Lun Resolution of relationship conflicts through the wulun These relationships are, in order of precedence from highest to lowest: ruler and subject; father and son; husband and wife; elder and younger brother; friend and friend. Ruler and subject often interpreted as manager and staff in the organization, however in Confucian teaching in the Analects, the relationship of son to father takes precedence (Analects 13:18). The responsibility for trustworthiness follows this hierarchy, thus regulating a person to make decisions based on which relationship is primary in the hierarchy (Ip, 2009b).Griffith Business School
  • 16. Filial Piety Along with ren, Confucians regard filial piety (xiao) as foundational among virtues of human relationships (Yao, 2000) and foundational for building social harmony. Serve and obey parents and respect ancestors with all of ones capacity (Zhang, 2000). Self-regulation is taught and starts at home Confucius argues that we can know the moral character of a person by knowing how well they treat (xiao) their family, and in particular, their parents, and ancestors. AConfucian approach to self-regulation in business ethics would require that a holistic view of their moral character is the basis for leader selection.Griffith Business School
  • 17. Section 3 Confucian Principles that Guide thePractice of Ethical ManagementGriffith Business School
  • 18. Principles that Guide the Practice of Ethical Management The goal of becoming a junzi The principle of social harmony The principle of acting ethically according to roles The principle of complementa