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Subsidiarity in Management & Business Activity: The Two Sides of the Phenomenon


  • Swiatkiewicz Olgierd

    (PhD in Management, Professor, Section of Business Administration and Communication, Setubal School of Technology, Polytechnic Institute of Setubal, Campus do IPS, Estefanilha, Portugal)


This study is devoted to the analysis of the concept of subsidiarity, which allowed the formulation of the subsidiarity principle, acting in various spheres of collective human activity. Systematization of the literary sources and approaches to the management of business activities proved that the ethical principle of subsidiarity aims to develop the well-being of collective human life, but it also has its limitations. On the one hand, numerous positive examples of mutual support, cooperation, help, mentoring, and employee development are known in business activity, as well as in management theory and practice. On the other hand, there have always been conflicts, rivalry, and competition at certain times. Besides that, not all businessmen and managers have always behaved following generally accepted principles. The main purpose of this article is to analyze the features of the application of the principle of subsidiarity in management and business in general and in specific examples. The methodological tools of the research are methods of critical analysis of literature and praxeological analysis of human actions. The article presents the results of the analysis of the function and features of the application of the concept of subsidiarity, including functional attributes specific to the principle of subsidiarity and the attributes that contradict it. The examples for the use of the concept of subsidiarity in management and business offered in this paper are not exhaustive. The Motivator-Hygiene theory and job enrichment, workers participation in organization or participation in decision making, corporate social responsibility and microfinance, initiated by M. Yunus as microcredit, Grameen Bank and Grameen Movement, were used as tools for the illustration of attributes characteristic of the principle of subsidiarity. The analysis of functional attributes opposed to the principle of subsidiarity or simulating it was carried out on the example of the theory of bureaucracy dysfunctions, discrimination, corruption, mobbing/bullying, paternalism, Taylorism, or the Scientific Management. The article presents the results of the analysis, which proved that the application of the subsidiarity principle is a specific case of the Aristotelian principle of the golden mean, the pursuit of balance, harmony, equilibrium, i.e., individual, and collective human development and practice of virtues, distributive justice. In this case, however, there is no external criterion that could be used to establish this balance or equilibrium. The research empirically confirms and theoretically proves the existence of an intersubjective and historical evaluation (criterion) subject to manipulation. This situation creates a practical problem for the effectiveness of this principle because people with insufficient knowledge, weak in spirit (weak character), or bad intentions can use this principle for their purposes, explaining their behaviors by ignorance, good intentions, etc.

Suggested Citation

  • Swiatkiewicz Olgierd, 2022. "Subsidiarity in Management & Business Activity: The Two Sides of the Phenomenon," Business Ethics and Leadership, Sciendo, vol. 6(3), pages 77-91, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:vrs:belead:v:6:y:2022:i:3:p:77-91:n:9
    DOI: 10.21272/bel.63.77-91.2022

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    More about this item


    functional attributes of subsidiarity; management & business; practical & ethical aspects; praxeological analysis; subsidiarity; subsidiarity antinomies & antonyms;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • E7 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • K1 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law
    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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