The Linguistic Turn, Social Construction and the Impartial Spectator: why Do these Ideas Matter to Managerial Thinking?

Philosophy of Management 17 (3):265-278 (2018)
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One’s philosophical points of view, which form the bases for assumptions that we bring to management theory and practice matter, and matter deeply, to management thinking and corporate behavior. In this paper I outline three related threads of philosophical conversations and explain how they are important in management theory and practice: the “linguistic turn” in philosophy, deriving from the later writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, a social constructionist perspective: a set of theories at least implicitly derived from the linguistic turn in philosophy, and the notion of the impartial spectator. I then use these three theories to analyze the idea of the corporation, corporate cultures and corporate mission statements, stakeholder theories and their differences, and the limitations of the popular notion of “corporate social responsibility.” I conclude that how one frames these management ideas makes a difference, a difference in theory and in practice.



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Patricia Werhane
DePaul University

References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Social Construction of What?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1998 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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