Gestão e Filosofia

Álvaro Balsas, SJ; José Bento da Silva (Orgs.)

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In the past two decades, many books and articles have been published on the topics of management and philosophy (van Peursen, 1989; Laurie & Cherry, 2001; Koslowski, 2010; Tsoukas & Chia, 2011; Griseri, 2013). This might be taken as a sign that a philosophy of management is slowly emerging. However, most of these publications tend to be focusing on the mobilization of philosophy and philosophers in management studies, rather than tackling the ambitious project of a philosophy of management. Philosophy in, or and, management is a necessary step in understanding how the works of philosophers over the past 25 centuries can help us better understand and account for managerial practices. Applying their theories and questions to contemporary organizations has proven to be inspirational and fruitful. Yet, a philosophy of management aims at going even further.

Building a philosophy of management requires uncovering what is behind managerial practices, beyond practical requirements. “Philosophizing is not what many politicians and managers think it is: to express some personal ideas on the state of matters. It is, on the contrary, starting to see unquestioned matters in a new, problematic way” (van Peursen, 1989: 267). Philosophy is fundamentally conceptual in nature, whether in challenging, refining or crafting new concepts (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994). Beyond invoking philosophers, we think we should pursue a conceptualization of organization studies, either starting from or reformulating usual words and labels such as ‘organization’, ‘management’, ‘decision and decision-making’, ‘motivation’, ‘leadership, ‘power’, structure’, ‘culture’, ‘change, ‘control’, among so many others.

This process would not be complete if it was not informed by specifically philosophical concepts that could enlighten our understanding of organizations and management. Indeed, a philosophy of management needs to be a two-way street (Laurie & Cherry, 2001), and include notions like ‘agency’, ‘intentionality’, ‘practical reason’, ‘ethics’, ‘reason’, ‘truth’, among so many others

In questioning, embezzling or crafting new words and concepts, the use of philosophers and philosophical fields will be absolutely necessary. Drawing from Tsoukas & Chia (2011) and Koslowski (2010), we offer three main leadsso as to further philosophy of management. First, ontology and epistemology to question organization studies as an academic field and knowledge within organizations; second, praxeology to challenge to connection between theories of management and managerial practices; third, aesthetics to unpack the entwinement of bodies, senses and emotions in management and organizations. These meta-questions (Tsoukas & Chia, 2011) could help us uncover the philosophical concepts under the managerial labels. Within organization studies it is of utmost importance that we try to create and refine concepts. For example, one could start from the institutionalized label (“management”) and dismantle it to reveal its underlying conceptual nature (“coordination”, “delegation”, or “control”).

Our spirit aligns strongly with how Griseri grounds his Introduction to the philosophy of management: “Some have taken the methods of academic philosophy – close attention to the use of terminology, tight arguments in which no statement is immune from questioning – and applied these directly to ordinary phenomena, outside of a theoretical context. Such philosophising of everyday life captures an important element of the original practice of the ancients, that this is meant to be an activity that integrates into people’s day-to-day living, not a remote practice only carried on by a cadre of specialised experts” Griseri (2013: 2).