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Managing Without Blame? Insights from the Philosophy of Blame


  • Ben Lupton

    (Manchester Metropolitan University)

  • Richard Warren

    (Manchester Metropolitan University)


This article explores the concept of blame in organizations. Existing work suggests that ‘no-blame’ approaches (or cultures) may be conducive to organizational learning and may foster innovation. However, both the apparently strong public appetite for blaming, and research into no-blame approaches, suggest that wider application of ‘no-blame’ in organizations may not be straightforward. The article explores the contribution of the rich philosophical literature on blame to this debate, and considers the implications of philosophical ideas for the no-blame idea. In doing so, it identifies conceptual and practical issues, sheds light on why the benefits of ‘no-blame’ may be difficult to realize, and offers the basis for an alternative approach. The article also contributes by providing foundations for future research, and identifies some fruitful lines of enquiry.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Lupton & Richard Warren, 2018. "Managing Without Blame? Insights from the Philosophy of Blame," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 152(1), pages 41-52, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:152:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3276-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-016-3276-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Waring, Justin J., 2005. "Beyond blame: cultural barriers to medical incident reporting," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(9), pages 1927-1935, May.
    2. Mary Crossan & Daina Mazutis & Gerard Seijts, 2013. "In Search of Virtue: The Role of Virtues, Values and Character Strengths in Ethical Decision Making," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 113(4), pages 567-581, April.
    3. Regine Oexl & Zachary Grossman, 2013. "Shifting the blame to a powerless intermediary," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 306-312, September.
    4. David McPherson, 2013. "Vocational Virtue Ethics: Prospects for a Virtue Ethic Approach to Business," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 283-296, August.
    5. Ulfert Gronewold & Anna Gold & Steven Salterio, 2013. "Reporting Self-Made Errors: The Impact of Organizational Error-Management Climate and Error Type," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 117(1), pages 189-208, September.
    6. B. Provera & A. Montefusco & A. Canato, 2010. "A 'No Blame' Approach to Organizational Learning," Post-Print halshs-00588296, HAL.
    7. Dean Tjosvold & Zi‐you Yu & Chun Hui, 2004. "Team Learning from Mistakes: The Contribution of Cooperative Goals and Problem‐Solving," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(7), pages 1223-1245, November.
    8. J. S. Busby, 2006. "Failure to Mobilize in Reliability‐Seeking Organizations: Two Cases from the UK Railway," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(6), pages 1375-1393, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vikram R. Bhargava, 2020. "Firm Responses to Mass Outrage: Technology, Blame, and Employment," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 163(3), pages 379-400, May.

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