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Ideas for Leaders #053

An Holistic Understanding of Management

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Key Concept

Organizations should rethink management development, taking into account that the challenges faced by managers, during a time of social and economic crisis, can be better overcome by an integrative, holistic and humanistic approach to management. 

Idea Summary

Can the loss of an integrative and humanistic approach to management be to blame for the recent economic crisis? According to the authors of this paper, meaningful and holistic management can help address the major management challenges that managers confront in today’s social and economic crisis.

They refer to a 2010 IESE symposium, ‘Facing the Crisis: Towards a New Humanistic Synthesis,’ during which a number of scholars noted the need to rethink management development so that all dimensions of business activity are taken into consideration in order to make progress towards a new humanistic synthesis between technical, human and ethical aspects of business.

More than 80 papers were presented at the symposium, with contributions from scholars from all over the world, illuminating different aspects of the problem and contributing from multiple angles to a richer understanding of the issues.

They go on to review six of the papers presented at the symposium:

  1. Whose responsibility is meaningful work? by Christopher Michaelson;
  2. Enhancing business education through integrated curriculum delivery by John W. Weber and Steven W. Englehart;
  3. Ethics and corporate social responsibility integrated into knowledge management and innovation technology: a case study by Fatima Guadamillas-Gomez and Mario J. Donate-Manzanares;
  4. Humanistic corporate community involvement: Walgreens/MEF One-on-One Program by Domenec Mele and Thomas L. Mammoser;
  5. The logic of the gift and the bonding value: a new perspective for business management by Guglielmo Faldetta and Sergio Paternostro; and
  6. Towards a more humanistic understanding of organizational trust by Manuel Guillen Parra, A lvaro Lleo de Nalda, and Gines Santiago Marco Perles.

Business Application

These are some key pointers towards a holistic understanding of management, coming out of the reviewed papers:

  • Only by integrating the business and human facets of management can we advance meaningful work approaches from the point of view of individuals and institutions or employers;
  • Programs of study, such as team teaching and integrative case studies, can effectively integrate different business disciplines that will benefit students and their future employers;
  • Innovative concepts, such as gift and gratuity dimensions in business relationships can potentially impact all aspects of management development; and
  • An inclusive and conceptually ambitious understanding of trust and trust building by means of a dialogue between management on the one hand, and ethics and the social sciences on the other hand is important.

The authors point to the feelings and attitudes of increasing helplessness, scepticism and distrust prevalent in the post-crisis business world today, and all dimensions of business activity should be taken into consideration, including economic results and impact on people, in order to make progress towards a new humanistic synthesis between technical and human and ethical aspects of business and organization.

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Idea conceived

  • 2011

Idea posted

  • January 2013

DOI number



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