An irreconcilable crisis? The paradoxes of strategic operational optimisation and the antinomies of counter-crisis ethics

Business Ethics 22 (1):68-85 (2013)

Arianna Bove
Queen Mary University of London
For good reasons we often think about ethics and strategy as two opposing categories. But as surfaces in which we see social practices reflected, as abstract planes in which social consciousness resides and which subjectivities reinvent, they share some deep and perhaps uncomfortable similarities. In this paper, we question whether they are irreconcilable categories and, through a discussion of the paradoxes of strategy and the antinomies of ethics, we examine their fraught relationship in current economic responses to the crisis. First, we outline the discursive topographies of strategy and ethics in respect to their abstract relations, and examine their integument in business ethics and strategy in context. Then, we show how there cannot be a simple coexistence of these two categories in organisational practice: one must in fact be subordinate to the other, although this subordination can produce the persistence of the other, even in its negation. Finally, we conclude that the asymmetrical nature of ethics and strategy entails that whereas ethics can immanently give rise to strategy, strategic questions on their own can only produce anti-systemic ethical responses
Keywords ethics  crisis  strategy  common  collective  politics  morality
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DOI 10.1111/beer.12009
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