CFP: Philosophy of Management

Submission deadline: January 9, 2012

Conference date(s):
July 19, 2012 - July 22, 2012

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

St Anne's College Oxford
Oxford, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Philosophy of Management 2012 is the eighth in a series of conferences open to all.  It will be of special interest to philosophers, management researchers and teachers, consultants and practising managers.

Contributions are invited to any of the Conference tracks - or on any aspect of philosophy of management and from within any cultural or philosophical tradition. We will especially welcome papers, panels and workshops on the relationship between philosophy and management practice.


Papers will be blind-reviewed, appear on the Conference Papers website and revised versions will be considered for publication in a forthcoming issue of Philosophy of Management.


Papers combining empirical research and case studies with philosophical treatment of issues will be particularly welcome in all tracks.

1.  Is "Sustainability" Sustainable?
Track convenor: Wim Vandekerckhove

Sustainability has become a household name. The discourses of carbon emissions and climate change have rendered it urgent such that 'sustainable' is now a must for everything we do or plan. Perhaps paradoxically it has become a driver for organisational change far beyond the domain of ecological sustainability. This track welcomes papers that critically examine the various practices justified through the concept of sustainability. Welcomed contributions could cover the following:

  • How far can we stretch the concept? What could it mean that it does not yet mean? What does it mean now that it used not to mean?
  • Does 'sustainable' add anything previous denominators lacked?
  • Are some sustainable practices unethical?
  • Is there such a thing as 'sustainable human resources management'?
  • What does financial sustainability tell us about reward management?
  • How has the notion of sustainability reshaped the distribution of responsibilities between State, corporations, and citizens?
  • Is there a totalitarian tendency in sustainability? Can we afford to say or do the unsustainable?
  • Is sustainable management utopian?

2.  Wisdom in Management
Track convenors: Steven Gold and Bernard McKenna (Professor of Management University of Queensland)

Wisdom has not recently been a significant area of interest for philosophers, but oddly it has received serious attention in the disciplines of psychology and management.  Since these are applied fields of study with practical implications defining what wisdom is, operationalizing it, measuring it, and applying it presents a wide array of interesting problems. This track opens the topic of wisdom up from the purely theoretical to the applied. Topics of interest might include:

  • Whose wisdom? In the Western tradition, Aristotle and the Christian tradition from the Old Testament to Aquinas dominate the philosophical tradition. How do they differ? What do "Eastern" and Indigenous cultures have to say?
  • Building communities of wisdom: As wisdom emerges from tradition and practice, is it possible to overcome the ephemera, individualism, and narcissism that dominates much of popular culture?
  • Prudence is regarded as a crucial element of wisdom: why was it so lacking in the behaviour of corporations and governments in economic and financial policy and practice?
  • Can we teach or teach for wisdom?
  • Ancient western philosophy and modern psychological theorists agree that virtue is core to wisdom. What do we mean by virtue?
  • The search for meaning. How can we get beyond the meaning-of-life fads to talk about meaningfulness?
  • What does wisdom have to say about sustainability? Aristotelian wisdom is built on the notion of eudaimonia (the good life): how can wisdom show us the principles of a sustainable good life?
  • Wisdom requires intelligence and knowledge. What sorts of intelligence and knowledge produces wisdom?
  • Psychologists have attempted to operationalize and measure wisdom using implicit (e.g., Sternberg, Ardelt, Webster) and explicit theories of wisdom (Baltes, Staudinger).  Is wisdom so ineffable as to be beyond measurement?

3.  Legitimacy and Management
Track convenor: Miriam Green

Management and its role has been a subject of interest at least since Berle and Means' The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932). In recent decades managers have been working in a context where the market and market values have acquired dominance in public as well as private organisations; where bureaucratic structures have been weakened in favour of more flexibility and freedom for managers; where corporations have increased their power nationally and internationally and have developed strong corporate cultures internally; and where inequalities in wealth and power among managers and others have increased exponentially. This raises questions surrounding the long-standing question of management legitimacy, specifically about managerial values, goals and practices, the character of a good manager, how we should judge managers, the legitimacy of their roles and the future of management itself.

Contributions are welcomed and could include the following topics:

  • Manager and management identities
  • Virtue ethics in relation to managers
  • The accountability of managers - to whom?
  • The legitimacy of management
  • Managers in strong corporate cultures - their loyalties, values and practices
  • Whistleblowing - by managers and regarding managers
  • Bureaucratic vs flexible organisation structures and the effects of the weakening of bureaucratic principles in many organisations on conceptions of managerial ethics
  • Remuneration for managers - how do we judge what is acceptable?
  • Management and other stakeholders - which other stakeholders should be catered for to ensure legitimacy?
  • Management theory and its interpretations and applications by managers: successes and failures
  • The future of management
  • The Management Oath

4.   On the Possibility of a Public Sector Management Philosophy
Track convenor: Paul Griseri

Over the last couple of decades there has been an increasing trend for public sector management to draw from private sector models. The sloganised idea of a 'New' Public Management based on emulation of private sector practices has become an orthodoxy. Privatisation, and its cognates such as internal markets for service provision, have led to a gradual diminishing of the concept of public service as a value in its own right. Management approaches such as performance measurement, developed for the management of companies, and more specifically finding their most clear application to activities such as manufacturing, are applied in the complex arena of public service provision.
Underlying this is the belief that an organisation that is structured and intended to provide a public service may be compared directly in terms of its basic operational drivers with one that is structured and intended to generate profits for its owners and/or shareholders. There are however drawbacks to this - the hierarchy of financial ratios, for example, that provides an elegant means of evaluating the overall performance of a company, has no simple analogue for, say, an education or social welfare function of government.  Simply put, the oil that greases a company's cogs and wheels is profit - all and any activity may be assessed in terms of what it might add to the bottom line, whether such activities be directly linked to costs and sales, or are more remote areas such as CSR programmes or brand recognition initiatives.  No such financially founded lubricant exists in a parallel manner for the public sector.

One basic question, therefore, underlying this track is how far might a modelling of the public sector on the private be appropriate.  The New Public Management has, arguably, grown old, and the plight of many governments in 2011 suggests that it has not achieved its stated aims in any case. Therefore, it is necessary to return to the question of what models successfully capture the several key features of the public sector, such as the idea of public accountability, the acquisition and use of resources, the ideal of public service, and the relation between the public sector and other, non-governmental not-for-profit organisations.

A further issue is the division between public and private sector activities.  During the Keynesian era, it was common for developed economies to have a significant degree of publicly-owned enterprise, in the form of state airlines, state corporations involved in mining and extraction, state retail banking. Whilst this has not disappeared, it has diminished, driven by a reduced idea of the state as providing solely the infrastructure and frameworks for other economically valuable activities to be conducted via markets.

Papers are therefore welcomed that address questions such as the following:

  • What is the nature of 'public service'?
  • How can performance against resource and financial imperatives be meaningfully compared to impact on social needs and benefits?
  • Where should the lines be drawn between public and private economic activity?
  • How far can the financial conception of a company provide a basis for evaluating public sector activities?
  • To what extent can there be a conception of public sector management that persists beyond the immediate circumstances and interests of governments, citizens and enterprises?
  • In the light of the current crises of economic debt attending much of the developed world, how far can and should the state support private enterprise when it is failing?

5.  Moving Philosophy of Management into the Management Curriculum Track
Track convenor: Nigel Laurie

If philosophy of management is to inform management practice then it needs to shape management education.  This track invites theoretical and empirical contributions on the relationship between philosophy of management as a field of study and as a subject in the management curriculum.  Contributions on any aspect will be welcomed including the following:

  • Arguments for and against including philosophy of management in the management curriculum
  • Reviews of issues and case histories relating to acceptance of philosophy of management as a subject for managers at undergraduate and graduate levels
  • Curriculum design: examples of philosophy of management programmes, philosophical components in other subjects programmes, materials and teaching methods
  • Evaluations of existing teaching programmes
  • Explorations of relationships between philosophy of management and other management subjects
  • Discussion of the relationship between philosophy of management and business ethics
  • Approaches to, and techniques for, developing philosophical skills in non-philosophers
  • The identification and preparation of  qualified teachers in management schools

6.  'Divers'

As in French academic conferences, the 'divers' track is reserved for papers on any other aspect of philosophy of management and they will be very welcome.

Conference Format

  • Plenary session with invited leading speakers
  • Presentations of papers in parallel sessions
  • Workshops, panel discussions and interviews
  • Poster presentations

We invite participants to propose collaborative formats for their sessions: e.g. paper, prepared reply and moderated discussion; contrasting approaches to an issue with papers from theorists and practitioners. Contributors are welcome to assemble small panels to offer a series of linked papers.


The language of the conference will be English.

To Contribute

Please submit a 500 word abstract proposal with contact details and brief CV all in one WORD (or equivalent) file to arrive by Monday 9 January 2012. (Please do not submit full length papers at this stage.) Please indicate the track to which you wish to contribute.

Please name your file as follows:   (yoursurname-papertitle).doc
Eg   McKenna-WisdomInManagement.doc

Email to:   [email protected]

Papers will be double-blind peer reviewed.


9 January      Proposal abstracts due
30 January     Contributors informed of acceptance
30 March       Full papers due
11 May         Notification of conference tracks
22 June        Issue of conference programme and full set of abstracts to all participants
19 - 22 July   Conference

Please note that the texts of all papers will be available before the conference on the conference papers website.  Speakers will speak to their abstracts which will be issued by email on 22 June.

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