In the wake of organizational scandals associated with corporate America servant as well as transformational leadership are seen as approaches capable of engendering a type of morality—on the part of leaders and followers—based on shared values, universal moral principles and an orientation towards a pro-social behavior serving the common good. However, recent critiques have highlighted the tendency in the relevant literature to overlook the systemic context within which leadership and followership are situated. Given this oversight this paper re-visits a classic piece of ethnography on corporate America: Robert Jackal’s Moral Mazes. Employing concepts from critical realism fused with insights from studies on management and bureaucracy we analyse the key themes from the book pertaining to the nature of the leader–follower dynamic in shareholder capitalism. The analysis highlights the role of bureaucracy and corporate ideology as key elements shaping leader–follower relationships, encouraging a type of morality associated with guarding self-interest whilst undermining relationality. The influence of the structural and cultural context in which leader–follower relations unfold draws attention to morality as relationally contingent as opposed to an ideal state.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.
Funding Information: We thank the handling editor and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions which helped develop the paper further. We would also like to thank Professor Mike Reed for his encouragement and helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. All errors are our own. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.
- Corporate ideology
- Shareholder capitalism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Economics and Econometrics