Defense Date

8-19-2016

Availability

Worldwide Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Communication and Rhetorical Studies

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Richard Thames

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Pat Arneson

Keywords

Aristotle, eudaimonia, human resources, organizational communication

Abstract

The current study seeks to explore Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia, or the good life, as a means to inform organizational communication in order to reimagine human resource management. The project begins by laying bare the current paradigm of egoism/altruism as the inappropriately accepted method to interpret employer/employee relationships. Google is used as an example of a successful contemporary organization widely criticized for their profitability and exploitation of workers. A historical example, Robert Owens, of the 19th century social utopians is used to illustrate a successful enterprise widely lauded for their altruism and benevolence. If one judges Google by the criteria applied to Robert Owens and Robert Owens by the criteria applied to Google, it becomes clear that praise or blame is dependent solely on the bias of the critic. A paradigm of reciprocity (drawing upon Alastair McIntytre’s critique of the egoism/altruism dichotomy and Aristotle’s understanding of the polis) is offered as an alternative to the modern, Hobbesian paradigm shown lacking. Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia is discussed and connections are made to organizational communication, specifically those done internally to create a culture or brand. I end with a discussion of what human resources according to Aristotle should look like, as well as implications for further study.

The project begins in chapter 1 by laying bare the current paradigm of egoism/altruism as the inappropriately accepted method to interpret relationships. Google is used as an example of a successful contemporary organization widely criticized for their profitability and exploitation of workers. A historical example, Robert Owens, of the 19th century social utopians is used to illustrate a successful enterprise widely lauded for their altruism and benevolence. If one judges Google by the criteria applied to Robert Owens and Robert Owens by the criteria applied to Google, it becomes clear that praise and blame are dependent solely on the bias of the critic.

Chapter 2 offers a different paradigm, reciprocity, as an alternative to the Hobbesian paradigm shown lacking. The Hobbesian paradigm in which relationships are essentially a competition with incompatible self-interests leading to a winner and a loser is an inaccurate, albeit a traditionally accepted philosophical underpinning for social critique. The unexamined assumption of the validity of the egoism/altruism dichotomy has lead to an inherent bias on the part of the critics, and therefore needs to be replaced with the Aristotelian concept of reciprocity as the dominant paradigm for interactions between individuals.

Chapter 3 serves to provide some important context for the disciplines of human resource management, organizational culture and organizational communication. An exploration of the development of these disciplines serves as historical grounding. The emerging disciplines of professional civility and positive organizing are also discussed with strong connections made to the concept of reciprocity.

In chapter 4 Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia is discussed and connections are made to organizational communication, specifically those done internally to create a culture or brand. Allowing ourselves to be informed by Aristotle’s concept of a “good life”, businesses can better understand how to position themselves as an integral element of a person living said good life. In the Nicomachean Ethics (NE) Aristotle talks about what he calls the good life. The idea is that one engages in certain activities with the expressed purpose of attaining some good.

A discussion of what human resources according to Aristotle should look like, as well as implications for further study are dealt with in chapter 5. Suggestions on how human resources ought to be reimagined in light of Aristotelean principles are offered. I address how businesses need to be attentive not only to functional extrinsic rewards but also how business must focus on intrinsic rewards such as happiness in order to help motivate people to attain heights of excellence. Aristotle’s ideas of the golden mean as well as distributional justice are used to inform the suggested reimagined human resource practices. A final connection is made to the concept of distributism as a perspective worthy of exploration as it connects to distribution of organizational resources.

Format

PDF

Language

English

Share

COinS