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Business education, aesthetics and the rule of law: cultivating the moral manager

  • Julia J.A. Shaw
  • Hillary J. Shaw
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    The purpose of this paper is to examine the usefulness to business education of aesthetics, literature and the ancient ideal of the rule of law in an increasingly complex global environment. Recent financial scandals have exposed a range of vulnerabilities in the management decision-making process and, increasingly, big business is searching for ethical answers. It is suggested that there is a need to develop the necessary critical, analytical and empathic qualities of, in particular, the business student in order that future global corporate leaders might also be moral managers. Design/methodology/approach – The abstract yet foundational concept of the rule of law is reworked in order to widen its application to business activities and ensure greater accountability. It is argued that the intellectual sensibilities need to be stimulated beyond the traditional business studies format, looking to various examples from the liberal arts. The paper proposes greater attention to, for example, the classics, as the lessons we can learn from fiction are highly pertinent to modern leadership and corporate conduct in general. Findings – There is a relatively new literary genre of business books which is inspired by classic and popular works of literature, for example Power Plays: Shakespeare's Lessons in Leadership; however, such books are yet to appear regularly on business school recommended reading lists. Social implications – There are compelling reasons for a radical change in management style, one being that the single-minded pursuit of profit has recently produced an unprecedented global economic crisis. The paper proposes that, by placing a greater emphasis on developing the intellectual and empathic sensibilities, future managers may be able to adopt a more conscionable approach to environmental and wider societal concerns. Originality/value – Against the backdrop of an alarmingly amoral and inept set of global management practices, the paper urges a radical return to a classical or liberal arts education for the business student. A re-imaging of the traditional rule of law also provides the basis for deciding the right course of action; tailored to meet the specific needs of the modern business community.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Social Responsibility Journal.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 3 (October)
    Pages: 469-486

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:6:y:2010:i:3:p:469-486
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