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Conflicting stories of virtue in UK healthcare: bringing together organisational studies and ethics

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In recent years, organisational theorists have been interested in the tensions faced by healthcare organisations. In this paper, these tensions are examined using the virtue approach to ethics of Alasdair MacIntyre. It is argued that although MacIntyre's framework shares many concerns with organisational studies, it supplements the analysis with a focus on moral content and evaluation. By providing moral evaluation of the stories told in organisations, an ethical analysis compels action on a basis that organisational studies does not. Nevertheless, it is the analysis of stories in organisation studies that provides the tools for taking action. The analysis presented here provides an example of how ethics and organisational studies can be brought together to provide a stronger analysis of organisational phenomena. Indeed, it provides support for Nielsen's position that organisational theory and ethics are co-dependent and suggests that greater attention should be paid to ethical concepts in the study of organisational phenomena.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: David Dawson is Head of the Department of Human Resource Management at The Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK.

Publication date: April 1, 2009


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