Moral imagination and systems thinking

Journal of Business Ethics 38 (1-2):33 - 42 (2002)
Abstract
Taking the lead from Susan Wolf's and Linda Emanuel's work on systems thinking, and developing ideas from Moberg's, Seabright's and my work on mental models and moral imagination, in this paper I shall argue that what is often missing in management decision-making is a systems approach. Systems thinking requires conceiving of management dilemmas as arising from within a system with interdependent elements, subsystems, and networks of relationships and patterns of interaction. Taking a systems approach and coupling it with moral imagination, now engaged on the organizational and systemic as well as individual levels of decision-making, I shall conclude, is a methodology that encourages managers and companies to think more imaginatively and to engage in integrating moral decision-making into ordinary business decisions. More importantly this sort of thinking is a means to circumvent what often appear to be intractable problems created by systemic constraints for which no individual appears to be responsible.
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