Business and Management INK

How to Practice Aristotelian Deliberation in Business Organizations

May 17, 2023 784

Sandrine Frémeaux and Christian Voegtlin reflect on their article, “Strengthening Deliberation in Business: Learning From Aristotle’s Ethics of Deliberation,” which was published in Business & Society.

We observe that deliberation is receiving increasing attention in organizations that either try to better integrate their employees in decision-making or seek to engage in multi-stakeholder initiatives. At the same time, it is also the subject of much criticism. Indeed, as we discuss in the article, deliberation is vulnerable to ideological conditioning. It can also be misused to encourage artificial debates disconnected from morally higher ends and from the reality of work. Finally, it can be instrumentalized by the most powerful people—not necessarily the most competent or visionary—in order to control peer action and exercise a relationship of domination. We realized that these limitations pose a paradoxical challenge to deliberation in business: while deliberation presumably contributes to more well-informed and legitimate decisions regarding good business practices, its pathologies can produce the opposite result by furthering solely personal interests or business goals.

Sandrine Frémeaux, left, and Christian Voegtlin

Starting from these observations, we set out to propose that an Aristotelian perspective on deliberation can help to address these challenges. This perspective is innovative but also relevant: Aristotle provided an in-depth reflection on deliberation, particularly in Nicomachean Ethics, and the Aristotelian corpus is a foundation of the common good perspective, which offers novel ways of thinking about and practicing deliberation in business organizations.

Embracing an Aristotelian perspective helps to address the critical points mentioned above by revealing the relevance of both individual and collective deliberation, deliberation on the ends and the means, and both decisive and cooperative deliberation. We argue that this Aristotelian ethics of deliberation is a safeguard against the risks of ideological conditioning, false debates, and instrumentalization of power by the strongest people.

There is a reason for this argument: in the Aristotelian perspective, deliberation is more than collective exchanges between individuals. It is both an intimate reflection and a decision-making process. Although common good thinking is sometimes misunderstood as idealistic or excessively demanding, we believe that the Aristotelian perspective is particularly realistic and effective because it respects everyone’s skills and perspectives while encouraging decisive deliberation.

We argue that it is possible to adopt a practical approach that integrates individuals’ personal experiences (their lessons of life) that respects the hierarchy of ends and means and includes the multiplicity of interpretations of the common good. We invite practitioners to experiment with the approach and scholars to shed further light on the conditions that enable and hinder Aristotelian deliberation and investigate the influence of the context in which such deliberation can take place.

Dr. Sandrine Frémeaux (pictured) is a professor of management organization and law at Audencia Business School. Dr. Christian Vögtlin is an associate professor in corporate social responsibility at Audencia Business School.

View all posts by Sandrine Frémeaux and Christian Voegtlin

Related Articles

From Collision to Collaboration: Bridging University and Industry Relationships
Business and Management INK
May 17, 2024

From Collision to Collaboration: Bridging University and Industry Relationships

Read Now
Motivation of Young Project Professionals: Their Needs for Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness, and Purpose
Business and Management INK
May 14, 2024

Motivation of Young Project Professionals: Their Needs for Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness, and Purpose

Read Now
A Complexity Framework for Project Management Strategies
Business and Management INK
May 10, 2024

A Complexity Framework for Project Management Strategies

Read Now
Bringing Theories into Conversation to Strategize for a Better World
Business and Management INK
May 8, 2024

Bringing Theories into Conversation to Strategize for a Better World

Read Now
Exploring Discrimination Faced by Asian Nationals in the U.S. Labor Market

Exploring Discrimination Faced by Asian Nationals in the U.S. Labor Market

Amit Kramer, Kwon Hee Han, Yun Kyoung Kim, and Yun Kyoung Kim reflect on the hypotheses and observations that led to their article, “Inefficiencies and bias in first job placement: the case of professional Asian nationals in the United States.”

Read Now
Interorganizational Design for Collaborative Governance in Co-Owned Major Projects: An Engaged Scholarship Approach

Interorganizational Design for Collaborative Governance in Co-Owned Major Projects: An Engaged Scholarship Approach

Large projects co-owned by several organizations with separate, perhaps competing, interests and values are characterized by complexity and are not served well […]

Read Now
Uncharted Waters: Researching Bereavement in the Workplace

Uncharted Waters: Researching Bereavement in the Workplace

To me, one of the most surprising things about bereavement is its complexity and that it can last far longer than expected. This is challenging to navigate at work where, unless it was a coworker’s death, no one else’s world has changed.

Read Now
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments