For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

After Virtue

by MacIntyre, Alasdair (1981)

Key Passage

Among the central fictions of the age we have to place the peculiarly managerial function embodied in the claim to possess systematic effectiveness in controlling certain aspects of social reality. And this thesis may at first sight seem surprising for two quite different kinds of reason: we are not accustomed to doubt the effectiveness of managers in achieving what they set out to achieve and we are equally unaccustomed to think of effectiveness as a distinctively moral concept, to be classed with such concepts as those of rights and utility. Managers themselves and most writers about management conceive of themselves as morally neutral characters whose skills enable them to devise the most efficient means of achieving whatever end is proposed. Whether a given manager is effective or not is on the dominant view a quite different question from that of the morality of the ends which his effectiveness serves or fails to serve. None the less there are strong grounds for rejecting the claim that effectiveness is, as I noticed earlier, inseparable from a mode of human existence in which the contrivance of means is in central part the manipulation of human beings into compliant patterns of behaviour; and it is by appeal to his own effectiveness in this respect that the manager claims authority within manipulative mode.  (p.71)


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After Virtue, MacIntyre Citations, Critical Management Studies



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