A personalist approach to business ethics: New perspectives for virtue ethics and servant leadership

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 32 (S2):145-158 (2023)
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Abstract

This article has a twofold purpose: first, it explores how Leonardo Polo's personalist anthropology enriches and enhances neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and second, it highlights how this specific personalist approach brings new perspectives to servant leadership. The recently revived neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics tradition finds that MacIntyre's scholarship significantly contributes to virtue ethics in business—particularly his conception of practices, institutions, and internal/external goods. However, we argue that some of his latest insights about the virtues of acknowledged dependence and human vulnerability remain underdeveloped because of the underlying anthropology that neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics relies on. To overcome this limitation, we introduce Polo's transcendental anthropology as a possible foundation of a personalist approach that enriches virtue ethics. To do so, we address how transcendental anthropology can enrich two central aspects of virtue ethics, namely (1) the understanding of human beings and their flourishing and (2) the relationship of virtue to praxis and human work. Finally, to address the practical implications for business leadership and work that can derive from assuming transcendental anthropology, we address how servant leadership acquires a new perspective in light of this personalism and its logic of gift, highlighting interpersonal self-giving as a way of service.

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