Evil and Organizations

January 19, 2006

SCOS – The Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism is having a very interesting conference…

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Organizations and demons, 12-15 July, 2006, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Astonishing few scholarly attempts have been made to connect concepts such as ‘organizing’ and ‘organization’ with ‘evil’, ‘ugliness’, or ‘bad taste’. The reason, we suggest, is that these concepts are taken to imply goodness and beauty. Yet, there is hardly any doubt whatsoever that ethical rules are routinely violated and that people engage in evil and ugliness within organizational settings. Whereas there is a burgeoning philosophical literature that emphasizes the ineradicable presence of evil and ugliness in the world, something that is understood in a moral, in an aesthetic, and in a metaphysical sense, the ideologues of organizations seem to preen themselves upon being able to overcome all difficulty: we may not be able to design the world as such as a good place but organizations can be places – islands? parks? pockets? – where moral weaknesses and ugliness can be definitely overcome.

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