Organizing and Management as Conditioning Dignity

From the view of humanistic management as a practice that knows how to bestow dignity to various activities and things, Arendtian worldliness could imply concern with boundary management and organizing by culture and sensus communis as ways of making ourselves at home in the world.

Reflective Boundary Management

Any activity may seem undignified viewed from the mentalities and perspectives on dignity inherent in the other activities[1]; any mentality may be destructive to dignity if allowed out of bounds, and every one of the mentalities may come in conflict with a perspective of a durable world by tendencies to consume, use as means, or change.

In parallel with Arendt’s reminder that while we have lost tradition but not our capacity to taking care of the past, we are reminded that while we have come to live in a world of blurred boundaries—to some extent as a result of management—we have not lost our capacity for boundary management which may respect dignity and keep conflicts alive. Every one of our activities needs protection from any logic that perverts them, and they need to be kept in bounds as well.

As a field of theory and practice, management may be inspired to reflect on what it is doing, encouraged by her imperative to “think what we are doing” (HC, p. 5). Corresponding to essential conditions, we do not lose our essential capabilities even if they are blurred or forgotten. Empirical obsolescence does not render the distinctions irrelevant. Arendt’s historical analyses of the modern age can be read as a one of the stories of the origins of management, described in terms of world- alienation, and a combination of the following:

  • • Making: (obsession with processes of becoming that do not appear on their own accord) where ends have become by-products of processes,
  • • Acting (draw into the light, organize and start processes) outside the realm of human relations, and
  • • Expropriation (emancipation of labor power by exposing people to the exigencies of life, alienating them from cares not directly following the life process itself).

To resist organizational systems of opportunities and rewards that are “totalitarian” in the sense that they encourage total openness in finding creative ways to perform and pursue organizational ends, Feldman argues for the need for stable organization cultures to provide moral standards deeply internalized in the individual. I find his attention to contemporary openness to action—especially when combined with threats of unem?ployment and societal superfluousness—in line with Arendt’s reminder that action is our most dangerous capacity. However, his remedy for this is at odds with Arendt’s view on culture and sensus communis.

  • [1] I do not sympathize with readings which project a hierarchy between Arendtian activities. Kateb(2007) equates his own hierarchical concept of human status and stature with her existential“values.” Sennett (2009), more influential in organization theory than Arendt and in a tone similarto Kateb, accuses her of lacking respect for the working man.
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