The moral muteness of managers: an Anglo-American phenomenon? German and British managers and their moral reasoning about environmental sustainability in business

Molthan-Hill, P. ORCID: 0000-0002-4425-1800, 2014. The moral muteness of managers: an Anglo-American phenomenon? German and British managers and their moral reasoning about environmental sustainability in business. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 14 (3), pp. 289-305. ISSN 1470-5958

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Abstract

Several studies in the Anglo-American context have indicated that managers present themselves as morally neutral employees who act only in the best interest of the company by employing objective skills. The reluctance of managers to use moral arguments in business is further accentuated in the now common argument presented as a neutral fact that the company must always prioritise shareholder value. These and other commercial aims are seen as an objective reality in business, whilst questions about sustainability, environmental problems or fair trade are seen as emotional or moral ones; a phenomenon described as ‘moral muteness’. This research explores whether this ‘moral muteness’ is an Anglo-American phenomenon and/or whether managers in other countries - in this case Germany - might express themselves in a different way. The focus is on moral arguments around environmental sustainability and the implications of this study for cross-cultural management. This article is based on a qualitative, comparative cross-cultural study of British and German managers in the Food Retail and Energy Sectors. In line with the studies mentioned above, British managers placed a strong emphasis on their moral neutrality. In contrast, German managers tended to use moral arguments when discussing corporate greening, often giving such arguments more weight than financial arguments. Overall, the study suggests that the ‘moral muteness’ of managers is a British phenomenon and quite distinct from the German approach. The article ends in a short exploration of how this understanding can help managers better manage people, organisations and change across cultures.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Cross Cultural Management
Creators: Molthan-Hill, P.
Publisher: Sage
Place of Publication: London
Date: 2014
Volume: 14
Number: 3
ISSN: 1470-5958
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1177/1470595814532076DOI
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 11:10
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:51
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23778

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