The Virtuous Organization: Insights from Some of the WorldA†s Leading Management Thinkers

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Palgrave Macmillan World Scientific Publishing Company Manz , Kim S. Cameron and 1 more POS expands the boundaries of these theories to make visible positive states, positive processes, and positive relationships that are typically ignored within organizational studies CAMERON et al. Furthermore, Dutton et al. Under such an understanding, therefore, it tends to be conducive to several positive outcomes such as achieving human excellence in organizations, unlocking latent potential, and identifying possibilities in people and systems that can be highly beneficial to employees and organizations likewise.

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Importantly, it must be pointed out that POS is grounded on a full spectrum of organizational theories. POS focus on the positive and affirmative means asking questions about what individual and organization conditions and their interactions account for valued human conditions such as resilience, vitality, thriving, fulfillment, transcendence, courage, flourishing, integrity, wisdom, as well as other individual and collective virtues and strengths.

POS re-emphasizes the importance of outcomes such as well-being, citizenship, and health not only as means to desired end of strong economic performance, but also as ends worthy of explanation on their own DUTTON et al. As expected, some questions are of particular interest for POS research such as what goes right in organizations, what yields life-giving, what is felt as good, what is inspiring and what leads to joy and inspiration, among others. It is also dedicated to strike a balance about factors involving: competition, problem solving, reciprocity, adversarial negotiation, uncertainty, resistance to change, legal contracting, or financial capital as the key indicator of worth with more positive and elevating dynamics CAMERON, , p.

Anyway, it is worth underlying that the POS concept is not value-neutral. Put in another way, POS represents an expanded perspective given that it embraces ideas of goodness and positive human potential. Furthermore, it is concerned with the enables e. In addition, POS is inspired by a positive lens, positively deviant performance, an affirmative bias and the examination of virtuousness or the best of the human condition. In a related vein, Nilsson suggests that POS could become a social change paradigm if it engages with dimensions such as legitimacy, embedded agency, the institutional nature of roles, boundaries, and practices.

He believes that the adoption of a more institutionally embedded lens could take POS researchers to develop some insights about when positive practices may constrain or reinforce negative organizational experiences and social outcomes. Hence, POS pays attention to the understanding related to the integration of positive and negative conditions, not merely with an absence of the negative.

Researchers have emphasized several benefits associated with POS concept. For example, it is posited that POS has the capability of providing an expanded view about how organizations may create sustained competitive advantage. It is also advocated that such result may be achieved by unlocking certain capacities such as meaning creation, relationship transformation, positive emotion cultivation, and high-quality connections.

The author proposes that by cultivating positive emotions one may find positive meaning in the daily work experiences.

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Myriads of topics and issues have been attributed to the POS concept umbrella. Nonetheless, this section intends to cover only some constructs related to it, that is, those ones that are more theoretically or empirically developed.

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As a result, I gathered findings and theoretical developments of this topic on an ongoing basis. Taken as a whole, one expects to provide a bigger picture about the state of art of POS and its possibilities. Perhaps the construct of compassion is the most explored by POS researchers.


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Many scholars have written about the beneficial initiatives associated with compassion in the workplace e. Further, it appears that the presence of compassion, experience gratitude or witness forgiveness inside organizations may nurture or reinforce the cycle CAMERON et al. Organizations are frequently associated with sources of pain and suffering; therefore, organizational compassion may mitigate such feelings. Research supports the notion that experienced compassion in work organizations is related to positive emotions and affective organizational commitment LILIUS et al.

Furthermore, this investigation revealed that most common forms of compassion at work were giving emotional support, giving time or flexibility and giving material goods. Findings also show that there are at least three ways of seeing compassion in organizations: a compassion as a way of interpersonal work — it is construed as a form of everyday interpersonal interactions that takes place in organizations; b compassion as narrative — it is identified in the language and stories in ways that help people make sense of pain and make meaning of their experiences at work; and c compassion as organizing — it comprises a collective accomplishment through processes that create, maintain and dissolve social units FROST et al.

By drawing on three broad areas of organizational theory i. Their analysis found compassion organizing as an outcome of structures of the organization the social architecture , the agency of individuals who were engaged in the process activation and mobilization and emergent features structural and symbolic. Taken together, these three elements provide the foundation of a theory of compassion organizing.

Going further, POS researchers suggest that compassion — under an organizational process perspective - can be institutionalized for both rational and symbolic reasons. Therefore, in terms of rational side, organizations can employ the emotion-wrought processes on a daily basis in order to help minimize the uncertainties linked to suffering that erupts in an organization. In a related vein, a work by Simpson et al. They noted that organizations with a high capacity for care and quickly communication with their employees could be regarded suitable to transformed or conscious capitalism.

By contrast, some limitations have been linked to the theory and research on compassion inside organizations: the focus on compassion as a psychological state rather than a social relational construct, the tendency to neglect power dynamics inherent in compassion relations and the tendency to neglect power dynamics inherent in compassion relations SIMPSON et al.

Thus far, research on organizational compassion has predominantly been conducted by means of qualitative approach. Admittedly the quality of human connections and relationships impact the organizational environments.

As rightly noted by Dutton and Heaphy , p. More specifically, the quality of such connections among organizational members may be life-giving or life-depleting depending on the context where they take place.

The Virtuous Organization:Insights from Some of the World's Leading Management Thinkers

When high-quality connections with others are noticed, it is likely that there will be a co-construction of identities that are valued by all organizational members. Similarly, both energy and vitality of individuals and organizations are identified on all levels of connections i. In contrast, by cultivating positive connections one creates antidotes to the corrosive relationships that we are subject to face at work, supportive connections that may reduce the stress and anxiety, safe harbors to rebuild our sense of worth and dignity, among other benefits see DUTTON, b , for an interesting and comprehensive analysis.

In other words, work relationships can be characterized as a generative source of enrichment, vitality and learning that helps individuals, groups and organizations grow, thrive, and flourish. Otherwise, they can yield toxic and corrosive sources of pain, depletion and dysfunction.


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  7. In this sense, Blatt and Camden identified that connections with other people is a relevant aspect to a sample of veteran temporary employees to go to work. Findings revealed that positive connections helped to cultivate community when involved inclusion, a felt sense of being important to others, experienced mutual benefit and shared emotions. Golden-Biddle, GermAnn, Reay, and Procyshen investigated Wetoka Health Unit in Alberta, Canada, and found that the focus on the symbolic meaning of positive relationships contribute to identify how people create and express respect, positive regard, and purposeful work, even during chaotic times.

    Along related lines, Carmeli, Brueller, and Dutton, found evidence that positive work relationships played a key role to shape perceptions of psychological safety and learning behaviors in the workplaces. In other study, Carmeli and Gittell also corroborated that high-quality relationships were significantly associated with psychological safety. Findings showed that the forms of high-quality relationships identified in relational coordination, i.

    Another study also identified the importance of connectivity on decision comprehensiveness in order to enable resilience i. In a related vein, a recent work by Caillier forthcoming reveals that positive workplace relationships in the public sector equip employees with the support and resources to perform their jobs well. In light of it, government workers likely perceive that they are making a greater impact on society. This study also shows that positive workplace relationships are linked to commitment. On the whole, there remains the need for further empirical evidence to pinpoint other aspects related to this topic.

    Cooperation has been one of the most studied topics in organizational studies, particularly by business strategy and innovation scholars. Indeed, there would not be a foreseeable future for humankind without the strength of cooperation. Enabling a high level of cooperation is a vital procedure for organizations to survive and prosper. For example, it has been conceptualized that compassion at work resides on the functioning of the three pillars of the organizational capability for cooperation: a the creation of renewable resources — it implies in building trust, felt connection, and positive emotions; b shared values and beliefs — it involves the acts and attitudes of dignity and respect, the value of the common good, and the interdependence; and c the need for cultivating critical relational skills — it comprises emotional attunement and enabling skills DUTTON et al.

    It is believed that transformative cooperation should be seen as a platform to build shared values and mutual benefits for all involved. Further, by working in a cooperative way — and employing positive experiences as levers for development — one may lead to the creative thinking to envision an innovative future. And this process may be triggered by joint ownership and buy-in arrangements, which culminates in transformative cooperation SEKERKA et al.

    Thus, subjective construal and evaluation of helping behavior is a sort of phenomenon of great interest to researchers that search for a better understanding of employee cooperation FLYNN, Organizations need to change in order to produce more healthy indicators and pleasant internal environments.

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    Research on courage has gained ground perhaps because it is taken for granted that without authentic acts of courage one would not have substantial change inside organizations. On the other hand, the failure of putting into practice acts of courage inside organizations may lead to failures in general performance. Thus, to meet the challenges of the contemporary marketplace, organizations need to find ways to foster courage in all levels WORLINE et al.

    Worline suggest two germane research questions, that is, whether the acts of courage in organizations are lacking or are simply overlooked. In this sense, research by Koerner explored the intersection of workplace courage and identity processes. By using narrative analysis supplemented by grounded theory procedures this study identified five storylines in the 89 courageous acts described by the interviewees. Overall, the five storylines covered the themes of endurance, reaction, opposition, creation, and no courage.

    Another study explored by means of a qualitative approach the perceptions of managerial courage, lack of managerial courage or no need for managerial courage held by five general managers and their close collaborators. Finally, two categories of critical moments were found. The first was related to courage and consisted of two types of managerial moral courage: courage to act and courage to be. Other investigation based on 94 interviews and conducted with a wide variety of employees who witnessed or undertook courageous action found evidence that workplace courage is linked to a two-stage process: a actors first determine their level of personal responsibility to respond to a challenging situation and then b determine the potential social costs of acting.

    Twenty-seven interviewees could only recall one work-related incident, yielding a final sample of incidents.