The virtues of managerial transgressions

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Professor, ESSEC Business School


Professor, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Seminar Business life | Friday October 4, 2013 - 9h30 - 12h

The sociology of organisations has highlighted the functional character of acts of transgression carried out by employees in the exercise of their jobs compared to transgressions made at higher, managerial levels which are considered to be dysfunctional. Research on transgressive acts committed by managers consists mainly of studying behaviour which is illegal or unethical. However, the speakers explain that managers may find themselves in situations where such acts are necessary in order to bring about organisational change. Since they violate something which is considered to be sacrosanct or ‘sacred’‚ they must expect retaliation from those who feel betrayal, and accept this risk. Using examples taken from religion‚ mythology‚ politics and modern organisations, the speakers elaborate on the antecedents, processes and consequences of transgression. An effective, transgressive leader is one who can successfully survive retaliations and construct a new sacredness to replace the sacred element he has violated.

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This session was published in issue n°105 of the Journal de l'École de Paris du management, entitled Inépuisables ressources humaines.

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