The Conditions of Our Freedom: Foucault, Organizations and Ethics

Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2008

Posted: 14 Sep 2010

See all articles by David Knights

David Knights

University of Exeter Business School

K. Starkey

Nottingham University Business School

Andrew Crane

University of Bath - School of Management

Date Written: July 1, 2008

Abstract

The paper examines the contribution of the French philosopher Michel Foucault to the subject of ethics in organizations. The paper combines an analysis of Foucault’s work on discipline and control, with an examination of his later work on the ethical subject and technologies of the self. Our paper argues that the work of the later Foucault provides an important contribution to business ethics theory, practice and pedagogy. We discuss how it offers an alternative avenue to traditional normative ethical theory that both converges and diverges with other extant alternatives. By situating ethics as practices of the self, and by demonstrating the conditions under which freedom in organizations can be exercised, Foucault’s ethics attempt to connect an understanding and critique of power with a personal project of self. He therefore provides a theory of subjectivity that potentially informs a reshaping of contemporary virtue ethics theory, value-based management, and business ethics teaching.

Keywords: Business Ethics, Ethics, Philosophy

Suggested Citation

Knights, David and Starkey, Kenneth and Crane, Andrew, The Conditions of Our Freedom: Foucault, Organizations and Ethics (July 1, 2008). Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676429

David Knights

University of Exeter Business School ( email )

Streatham Court
Xfi Building, Rennes Dr.
Exeter, EX4 4JH
United Kingdom

Kenneth Starkey

Nottingham University Business School ( email )

Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Andrew Crane (Contact Author)

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/faculty/andrew-crane.html

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