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Title: Morality and leadership in work organizations : developing a normative model
Author: Fryer, Michael
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2008
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Leadership is a morally ambivalent notion. While leaders of organizations may have the capacity to do a great deal of good, they can also do a great deal of harm. Furthermore, there is something intuitively disconcerting about the idea of individual leaders exerting disproportionate influence over other people. My objective in this PhD is to develop an understanding of what moral leadership might look like. I approach this question through a number of different avenues. I begin by reviewing the leadership literature to see what it has to say about morality. In particular I consider the extent to which the literature, in responding to the moral concerns mentioned above, either ameliorates or exacerbates those concerns. I then consider moral leadership and from the perspective of ethical theory. Taking a representative cross-section of different meta-ethical stances, I consider the implications that principle-based, existentialist and inter-subjectivist theory might hold for moral leadership. Lastly, I attempt to find out what some leaders have to say about morality. Using semi-structured discussions with sixteen people who hold formal leadership roles in large organizations, I identify a number of themes that characterise the way that they think about the ethical dimension of leadership. I draw out the implications of the perspectives that emerge from each of these separate avenues of enquiry, also highlighting relationships between different perspectives. I take the view that each of these perspectives offers some positive insights into what moral leadership might comprise but that each may also lead to some troubling ramifications. While a simple template for moral leadership is likely to remain elusive, sensitivity to the positive and less positive implications of these various perspectives will enable a more enlightened response to the ethical challenges presented within different leadership contexts. I conclude that an intersubjectively facilitative style will be better placed to respond to the moral challenges presented by leading in organizations than will more monological or oligarchic approaches.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available