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In search of Phronesis: leadership and the art of judgment

Shotter, John and Tsoukas, H. (2014) In search of Phronesis: leadership and the art of judgment. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 13 (2). pp. 224-243. ISSN 1537-260X

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Identification Number: 10.5465/amle.2013.0201


We explore the process through which people in organizations, especially those in leadership positions, in circumstances marked by ambiguity, surprise, and conflicting values, come to, or arrive at, judgment. Briefly reviewing the (somewhat limited) literature on judgment in management studies, we conclude that its mainly rationalist orientation prevents us (scholars and practitioners alike) from properly grasping important features of the hermeneutical–developmental process involved in coming to a judgment. In particular, the role of emotions, moral agency, language use, and, especially, the selective and integrative nature of perceptual processes, are far too easily ignored. We make the case for a particular notion of judgment understood as Aristotelian “phronesis” (practical wisdom). Phronetic leaders, we argue, are people who, in their search for a way out of their difficulties, have developed a refined capacity to intuitively grasp salient features of ambiguous situations and to constitute a “landscape” of possible paths of response, while driven by the pursuit of the notion of the common good. We seek to shed light on how this is accomplished, by drawing on neo-Aristotelian, phenomenological, and Wittgensteinian philosophy.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2014 Academy of Management Learning & Education
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2014 14:02
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2024 23:12

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