March 19, 2024


Positive Links Speaker Series

Positive for Whom? Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Antoinette Weibel
Professor for Human Resource Management and Director at the Institute for Work and Employment Research at the University of St.Gallen

March 19, 2024

About the talk

Most scholars in the realm of positive organizations share a common passion: we all aspire to alleviate some of the suffering in the world. Consequently, we are actively engaged in studying positive phenomena such as trust, compassion, high-quality connections, flourishing, and more. Despite this, many of us shy away from addressing a crucial underlying question: positive for whom and on what grounds? There is also contemplation on whether “positive” is indeed the most fitting label, as opposed to “good” or “for the common good.” Often, we adhere to the value-free label of social science, neither acknowledging the underlying value-driven nature of our work nor recognizing that by frequently choosing performance as the dependent variable, we implicitly align with instrumentalism and utilitarian thinking.

In the upcoming discussion, Antoinette will share her story and explain why she chose to directly confront the value question in her new project, “good organizations.” By adopting a distinctly virtue ethics approach, she emphasizes the need to qualify the term “positive,” to differentiate between flourishing and thriving, and to recognize that trust can be ethical only in conjunction with practical wisdom. Antoinette will elaborate on how good organizations view prosperity as a means to the end of collective development and good work, aiming to enable the good life of all stakeholders touched by the organization. Lastly, she will elucidate why she believes that we, as engaged scholars and managers alike, cannot exempt ourselves from contemplating values and ethics. According to Antoinette, coming to explicit terms with our normative foundation is the only genuine way to alleviate the suffering within organizations.


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