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Relationality As Key To Responsible And Sustainable Organisations

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Painter-Morland
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

The main thesis of this project is that responsible and sustainable business practices emerge as part of a dynamic network of relationships between people, systems, and material environments. Value and meaning is continuously co-produced within these multilateral relational networks. It influences and informs what is deemed necessary, possible and acceptable in the interactions between participants. Though these values and beliefs may remain largely unarticulated, they function as tacit assumptions and expectations that drive business behaviour. What this effectively amounts to is a tacit value orientation that is inadvertently actualised in the perceptions and behaviours of all those who continually co-produce it.

Violations of these tacit values or expectations register simultaneously within and among the participants in a particular network of relations. It is the tension and discomfort associated with such violations that ultimately serves to ensure participants’ compliance with the network’s value-orientation. Compliance or non-compliance is both the consequence and price of continued participation in relational networks. Participation in relational networks therefore provides a kind of relational accountability, which can act as a counterforce to unethical behaviour and corruption, as well as social and environment degradation.

This study will focus on how relational accountability emerges in business practice, and which cross-sectoral initiatives best sustain this normative constraint. The material patterning emanating from routines, networks and envrionments, will be studied by means of qualitative methodologies, and reflected upon by drawing on philosophical and sociological concepts.

For informal enquiries about this project, please contact: Professor Mollie Painter-Morland: [email protected]


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Cunliffe, A and Eriksen, M (2011) Relational Leadership. Human Relations, 64: 1425- 1449.
Painter-Morland, M. J. (2006) Redefining accountability as relational responsiveness. Journal of Business Ethics, 66: 89-98.
Painter-Morland, M. J. (2007) Redefining Accountability in a Network Society. Business Ethics Quarterly, 17(3): 515-534.
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Painter-Morland M (2011) Rethinking Responsible Agency in Corporations: Perspectives from Deleuze & Guattari. Journal of Business Ethics 101(1): 83-95.
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Painter-Morland, M. J. and Deslandes, G. (2014) Gender and Visionary Leading: Rethinking “Identity” and “Vision” with Deleuze and Bergson, Organization, 21(6): 844-866.
Painter-Morland, M. J. and Deslandes, G. (2015) Rethinking authenticity and accountability - Facing up to the conflicting expectations of media leaders, Leadership, Online first: DOI: 10.1177/1742715015578307.
Ravaisson, F. (2008) Of Habit, translated by Carlisle, C. and Sinclair, M. London: Continuum Press.
Uhl-Bien M (2011) Relational Leadership and Gender: From Hierarchy to Relationality In: Leadership, Gender, and Organization Patricia W. Werhane and M.J. Painter-Morland (eds). Dordrecht: Springer.
Uhl-Bien, M. and Ospina, S.M. (2012) Advancing Relational Leadership Research. A dialogue among perspectives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.00

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