In the Eye of the Beholder: An Exploration of Managerial Courage

  • Harbour M
  • Kisfalvi V
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Abstract

There is growing interest in the positive organizational literature in the complex interplay between the positive and negative facets of organizations, individuals, and situations. The concept of courage provides fertile ground to study this interplay, since it is generally understood to be a positive quality that is manifested in challenging situations. The empirical study presented here looks at courage in a strategic decision-making context and takes an interpretive perspective; it focuses on the cognitive structures and subjective understandings of managers and administrators involved in merger projects as a way to understand the dynamics surrounding managerial courage. Our study makes several contributions: it shows that managers consider courage to have a moral dimension, e.g., to be a positive and ethical response to a risky or difficult situation in which there is an interplay between organizational and personal interests; it identifies two kinds of managerial moral courage; it proposes a conceptual model with which to understand how evaluations of what is courageous and what is not are made; and finally, it offers four schemas developed from the data that add to our understanding of moral courage in management.[PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cognition
  • Courage
  • Emotions
  • Managerial moral courage
  • Strategic decision

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Authors

  • Michelle Harbour

  • Veronika Kisfalvi

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