Vol.:(0123456789) 1 3Journal of Business Ethics (2020) 163:13–22https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04325-2COMMENTARY“Speaking on Behalf of…”: Leadership Ethics and the Collective Natureof Moral RefectionAndreas Rasche1,2Received: 2 August 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2019 / Published online: 5 November 2019© Springer Nature B.V. 2019AbstractIn this essay I discuss two limitations that emerge when considering Tsoukas (J Bus Ethics 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-018-3979-y) analysis of the Academy of Management’s (AOM) initial response to the travel ban issued by PresidentTrump in 2017. First, I suggest that any initial ofcial response on the part of AOM would have required its leaders to “speakon behalf of” all AOM members and thus would have created a number of problems. We therefore need to take better accountof others’ perspectives (“speaking with”) whenever speaking for others. For this reason I emphasize that moral imaginationdoes not constitute a solely individual cognitive act but must be thought of as a deliberative process. Second, while Tsoukas’analysis suggests that the leadership of AOM should have made an exception to the rule on taking public stands, I show thatsuch exceptions need to be justifed communicatively, especially when dealing with moral questions. My analysis outlines theformal and informal communication processes necessary to facilitate such justifcation and explores ways in which AOM’scurrent approach to deliberation can be improved.Keywords Leadership ethics · Collective moral decisions · Deliberation · Derrida · HabermasIntroductionHaridimos Tsoukas (2018) presents a well-argued perspective on the decision of the then leadership of the Academyof Management (AOM) not to issue a public condemnationof President Trump’s Executive Order 13769 to ban citizensof seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering theUnited States (i.e., citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia,Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). There is much of value in therefections presented by Tsoukas and I agree with some ofthe points raised, including, for instance, that rules in principle need to be applied with care and a high degree of refection. I also agree, and I think it is important to highlight thisfrom the outset, (a) that the travel ban constituted a signifcant attack on basic human rights, including the US-ratifed1967 UN Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (seeFitzpatrick 1997), and (b) that academics have a responsibility not to ignore such violations of rights. There is no doubtthat the ban will have negative efects on how academicsconduct research and teaching. It is also clear that the banwill not yield any security gains to the US, as no refugee hasbeen connected to a major terrorist attack in the USA sincethe US Refugee Act of 1980 came into force (Nowrasteh2016).This essay aims to identify and clarify those points onwhich it is possible to agree with Tsoukas’ assessment andthose where disagreements arise, at least on my part. I raisetwo points that I believe remain unacknowledged in the discussion, both of which relate in diferent ways to a neglect ofthe collective nature of moral decisions. I raise both pointsin the spirit of constructive academic dialog and in orderto continue conversation around this topic, in line with thedistinctive characteristics of scholarly essays as a genre (Delbridge et al. 2016).The frst point is that Tsoukas (2018) emphasizes theindividual decision taken by Professor McGahan withoutacknowledging the difculties that arise whenever someone“speaks on behalf of” someone else or something. Regardless of whether one agrees or not with Tsoukas’ assessmentthat the travel ban case represents non-prototypical political

Andreas [email protected] CBS Sustainability, Copenhagen Business School,Porcelænshaven 18A, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark2 Stockholm School of Economics, Mistra Centrefor Sustainable Markets (MISUM), Box 6501,113 83 Stockholm, Sweden14 A. Rasche1 3speech, it is a case of an individual being asked to speak onbehalf of an entire organization without supporting organizational policies and, as a consequence, without the existenceof a formal organizational view on the subject matter. In thiscase the social location of the speaker put her in a privilegedposition (Alcof 1991); and I suggest that when people insuch privileged positions are asked to speak on behalf of others there is a risk of their unknowingly misrepresenting theviews of others (Kulick 2015). This is why individual moralimagination, as envisioned by Tsoukas, is unlikely to serveas a remedy, since it neglects the importance of involvingothers in decision-making processes. Moral imagination isan individual cognitive act (Johnson 1993) but also—andmost importantly—a social process (Hargrave 2009). Understood in this way, the problem of “speaking on behalf of”leads me to emphasize the importance of “speaking with”.Communicative action is vital, I argue, to initiate a collective process of moral imagination that can address some ofthe difculties involved in speaking for others (e.g., the riskof unintentionally obscuring voices in the debate). A second point of contention is that Tsoukas’ (2018) critique isbased on the assertion that Professor McGahan followed a“bureaucratic image of leadership, whereby leaders rigidlyfollow organizational rules”. Arguing that the travel ban hada distinct moral character, Tsoukas suggests that the AOMleadership had a responsibility to adapt existing rules fexibly and thereby to exercise moral imagination. This puts therelationship between rules and their relevant modifcationsat the center of the analysis. Here I suggest that while it isclear rules need to be extended to ft the relevant contextat hand, the person interpreting the rules rarely knows thelimits of each rule before the rule is applied. Whether ornot the modifcation of a rule happens in the spirit of therule can only be decided after the rule has been applied. AsOrtmann (2010) writes: “This establishes a problem for therule-breaker, who may not know a priori whether he or shewill end up as a hero or a rogue employee—depending onwhat consequences his or her rule-breaking has.” This doesnot mean that rules should not be extended/modifed to covercontextual particularities; rather it implies the need to takeaccount of the fact that rules entail certain boundaries andthat these boundaries cannot always be decided by individuals alone. The process of extending/modifying AOM’s “NoPolitical Stands Policy” thus calls for collective refectionand deliberation.Highlighting and discussing these two shortcomings isnot intended to excuse the initial decision of the AOM notto accept Professor McGahan’s proposal to condemn theTrump immigration policy in the name of AOM, nor doesit in any way endorse President Trump’s Executive Order.Rather, my analysis shows that individual moral imaginationshould not be seen as the fnal remedy. Overall, my positionon the debate is as follows: I agree that the AOM leadershipshould ideally have condemned the Executive Order; however, given that such a decision involves moral assessments itwould have required (a) more organized deliberations amongAOM members in order to develop a legitimate and formal organizational view on the Executive Order, and (b) theexistence of organizational policies authorizing leaders totake political stands on behalf of AOM as a whole. I appreciate the difculties that arise when someone has to speakon behalf of a large membership-based organization withoutthe existence of a formally defned organization-wide view.Further, I disagree that individual moral imagination alonecould have generated a legitimate response, especially assuch a perspective does not take account of the fact thatProfessor McGahan did propose a condemnation of theExecutive Order by the AOM but was not allowed to issuethis condemnation due to the original “No Political StandsPolicy” (McGahan 2019).1I suggest that such situations canbe better addressed in future if AOM improves the ways inwhich informal deliberations among its members are connected to the decision-making process of its formal governance bodies.My analysis proceeds as follows. Section two unpacks theproblem of “speaking on behalf of” and shows the resultingneed to understand moral imagination as a social processbased on deliberation. Section three discusses the problem of rules and their exceptions by (a) showing why suchexceptions are inevitable and (b) highlighting the need tocollectively justify the boundaries of such exceptions. Mydiscussion highlights the distinction drawn by Habermas(1996) between formal and informal spheres of deliberation and shows how AOM’s discursive infrastructure can beimproved. Section four puts my arguments into perspectiveby asking whether deliberation is always possible and desirable. The last section aims to move beyond the discussionof the importance of symbolically condemning the Executive Order, focussing instead on what we as academics andscholars of business ethics should have done to help repealthe travel ban.Speaking on Behalf ofThe Limits of “Speaking on Behalf of”Speaking out against the Executive Order requires to speakon behalf of AOM and its nearly 20,000 members from morethan 120 countries (AOM 2019a). “Speaking on behalf of”someone or something is an important precondition for1 The original policy was called “No Political Stands Policy”(NPSP). On 21st April 2017, this was renamed into “Policy on Taking Stands.”“Speaking on Behalf of…”: Leadership Ethics and the Collective Nature of Moral Refection 151 3social life. Politicians speak on behalf of their parties, priestsand prophets speak on behalf of God, and NGOs speak onbehalf of—for example—the natural environment. However,there are numerous problems attached to speech acts that aresupposed to represent others, and philosophers have analyzed relevant situations in some depth (see e.g. Alcof 1991;Marino 2005).One of these problematic aspects is that the speaker’ssocial position (in this case Professor McGahan’s role as aPresident) has an impact on their claims, since social location can either authorize or disauthorize their speech. Onecould claim, of course, that it is exactly this social locationthat required Professor McGahan to challenge the Executive Order (which she did, frst in a personal capacity andlater, after AOM revised its “No Political Stands Policy”, asa member of AOM; McGahan 2019). However, as Alcof(1991, p. 29) asserts, speaking on behalf of someone canalso be understood as the speaker “privilege[ing] oneselfas the one who more correctly understands the truth aboutanother’s situation or as one who can champion a just causeand thus achieve glory and praise.” The risk of privilegingthe speaker’s perspective is particularly relevant in this casesince the AOM Code of Ethics states that “AOM membersdo not speak for or represent the AOM unless authorized byits president to do so” (AOM 2019b; see the paragraph on“Public Statements”). Further, the AOM Board adopted aConstitutional principle in the early 2000s that the Presidentcould not represent her views as those of the organization onany matter (McGahan 2019).Second, and related to the point above, “speaking onbehalf of” can imply the silencing of interests that differ from those of the speaker. As Stanovsky (1997, p. 12)argued: “The worry is that those interests which vary fromthose of the speaker will be silenced and become lost, andthat any ‘speaking as’ will simultaneously work to obscurethe multitude of diferences that exist within any group.”The risk of disregarding minority voices is especially signifcant in our context because the AOM is an organizationthat emphasizes and embraces the “full diversity of memberbackgrounds and experiences” (AOM 2018a). Although itseems unlikely that many AOM members would have notendorsed the Executive Order, there was still a risk of notrepresenting the multitude of perspectives that could potentially exist on this subject matter within AOM. As Professor McGahan (2017) wrote in her letter to AOM members:“Our members hold a range of views on the public policiesthat have recently been implemented.” For instance, Wright(in Davis et al. 2019, p. 289) argues that “[AOM] membership is best served with a policy that nobody, including theAOM President, can represent her personal views as those ofour organization.” Minority voices are often not representedwhen leaders speak for others (e.g., when there are diverging interests within a political party). This is an inevitablefeature of rule by majority. However, my perspective brings“responsibilities to the represented” into the analysis andseeks to ascertain the conditions whereby a person can cometo be in a position to speak on behalf of others. One suchcondition is that they have a thorough understanding of thescale and scope of diferent perspectives within their organization on the matter at hand.A third problem relates to the belief that “speaking onbehalf of” constitutes a form of representation, i.e., thatwhen I speak on behalf of you I represent what you think(Lawlor and Shotlz 2016). This belief was criticized byDeleuze (1968/1994, p. 52) in the following words (emphasis in the original): “The representant says: ‘Everyone recognizes that …’, but there is always an unrepresented singularity […] The misfortune in speaking is not speaking, butspeaking for others or representing something.” Of course,there is never a perfect linguistic or mental representationof reality because there is never a one-to-one correspondence between forms of representations and the externalworld (Chia 1995), and therefore “speaking on behalf of”can never fully represent the audience as who they are, or atleast cannot give voice to the necessary singularity of positions. Representation thus always already involves interpretation by the speaker and hence cannot be conceptualized asan act of discovery. One could argue, of course, that electedrepresentatives have a special obligation to speak for theirconstituents. Alcof (1991) shows the limits of this argument, however; for while elected representatives certainlyare authorized to speak on behalf of their constituents, “theprocurement of such authorization does not render null andvoid all attendant problems with speaking for others” (Alcof1991, p. 10).All of this should not be understood as an argument toabsolve the speaker of responsibility. It would be a weakjustifcation to take the position that “I cannot speak for xbecause I do not know whether I represent x or whether Iprivilege my own opinion”. We should not be afraid to speakfor others, but we do need to be cautious and to carefullyconsider the time and contextual limitations in which ourstatements appear. Such contextual limitations may relate,for instance, to organizational policies that prevent leadersfrom issuing ofcial statements on behalf of an organization.In the travel ban case, Professor McGahan did not hesitate tospeak up. She drafted a message condemning the ExecutiveOrder right after President Trump had issued the Order on27 January 2017. This message was not sent to members viaAOM’s ofcial communication channels, however, since atthe time such an ofcial statement would not have been inaccordance either with AOM’s policy of taking no politicalstands or with the provision in AOM’s Code of Ethics whichstipulates that members cannot express their personal viewsas being representative of the entire organization (AOM2019b, McGahan 2019).16 A. Rasche1 3The Importance of “Speaking With”The question thus arises as to how we can exercise the necessary caution and take account of the problems related to therepresentation of others when speaking on behalf of someoneor something. One solution would be to put more emphasison “speaking with” and to view deliberation as a means offacilitating “speaking for” (Stanovsky 1997; Lugones andSpelman 1983). Such acknowledgement of and communication with those represented is critical because we are dealing with a morally loaded issue, the organizational responseto which requires justifcation and hence moral legitimacy.Moral legitimacy is socially constructed and should thusbe understood as communicative legitimacy (Palazzo andScherer 2006). Alcof (1991, p. 23) adopts a similar view,urging that “We should strive to create wherever possiblethe conditions for dialog and the practice for speaking withand to rather than speaking for others.” Dialog helps to capture the diverse preferences and voices of the representedand hence works to mitigate some of the problems outlinedabove. This need for communicative justifcation of relevantspeech acts is not recognized in Tsoukas’ (2018) analysis,however, which focuses instead on the need for individualmoral imagination: “To denounce the travel ban, the AOMleaders would need to exercise their ‘moral imagination’.”While I agree that individual moral imagination is importantto envision diferent courses of action, a situation in whichmoral legitimacy rests on the inclusion of the voices of therepresented calls for greater consideration of the collectiveaction process underlying moral imagination.Moral imagination as collective action is shaped by jointframing of the moral meaning of relevant issues (Hargrave2009). Instead of hoping that individual moral imaginationmight lead to a shift in frames (Tsoukas 2018), a deliberative approach could have highlighted and communicativelylegitimized the point that the Executive Order was a matterof morality. For instance, when the AOM Critical Management Studies (CMS) Division asked its members to respond(a) to the Executive Order and (b) to assess AOM’s responseto the Order, the responses included statements such as thefollowing: “I was disappointed by the AOM Leadershipresponse as my view is this is not a political issue in thesense of which group to follow or endorse as the AOM rulesseem to address […]. This is a moral issue that does needthe AOM to take a stance on, regardless of political partyafliation…” (CMS Division 2017, p. 10).A deliberative approach could also have served to highlight how diferent moral points of view exist in evaluatingthe situation. The CMS Division’s (2017) survey presentsthese diferent perspectives. Many respondents based theirarguments on democratic rights (e.g., “Under normal circumstances this would be an understandable position but notwhen such foundational democratic values are at stake.”,p. 4), while others cited democracy to argue that the Executive Order arose from a democratic process (e.g., “[…] he[Trump] was elected on a policy of restricting immigrationinto the US—a policy that has clearly led to an undermining of US labor standards and social dislocation—so this isall part of the democratic process”, p. 7). And while somestressed that the AOM had taken a de facto political positionwith its response (e.g., “I am disgusted about the politicalstance the AOM is de facto taking”, p. 10), others argued thatthe AOM is not a political organization and hence evincedunderstanding for the initial decision (e.g., “Bottom line,AOM is not a political institution, don’t make it one”, p. 6).While the survey showed that the majority of members wereunhappy and even frustrated with AOM’s response, otherviews were also expressed, including that the “AOM President’s statement is understandable and informative but putsthe responsibility of action back on the membership” (p. 16).Although the CMS Division is certainly not representativeof the entire AOM community, especially as it mostly comprises scholars with a critical gaze on management-relatedmatters, it nonetheless afords a frst impression of the rangeof possible perspectives.2The point here is that individual moral imagination isnot of much help if the results of this cognitive act cannot be communicatively justifed within the organization. Irealize this places high demands on the process of decisionmaking in such situations, and there are certainly caveats toconsider. One important limitation, for example, refers tocommunicatively justifying decisions under time pressure.Collective moral imagination based on deliberation can bea time-consuming process (Ryfe 2005) and may delay decision-making. However, recent research on online deliberation has also shown that Internet-based dialogs can increasethe pace of communicative decision-making (Davies andGangadharan 2009). This shows the need for AOM to create the online infrastructure necessary to facilitate relevantcommunicative justifcation processes (see below).Another caveat relates to the problem of disagreementand the question of whether someone who decides on behalfof others can follow their own personal values instead ofa communicatively justifed organization-wide solution.Deliberative theorists have no straightforward answer tosuch questions. Habermas’ (1999, p. 332) discourse theoretical refections emphasized the “unforced force of the betterargument”, thereby highlighting the merits of argumentativeexchange and the need for solutions that ideally have theapproval of all discourse participants (see also Cohen 1986,2 Surveys are not, strictly speaking, an example of deliberation, sincedeliberation requires an exchange of perspectives. The CMS surveywas included here to show that a range of perspectives existed on theinitial decision by AOM.“Speaking on Behalf of…”: Leadership Ethics and the Collective Nature of Moral Refection 171 3p. 22). There is little room for disagreement in such a consensual version of deliberation. Other deliberative theorists,however, have highlighted that it is not always desirable toseek comprehensive consensus and that we may have to liverespectfully with moral disagreements in cases where diferences can only be removed by repression (see, for example,Gutmann and Thompson 2004). Practically speaking, thiscan lead to an economy of moral disagreement in whichdecision makers may defend their contrary positions only“on grounds that minimize the portion of opposing positions that must be rejected” (Galston 1998, p. 609). Accordingly, the goal of deliberation is not to seek consensus at anyexpense but rather to help participants recognize the moralmerits of their own claims and those of their opponents.If moral disagreements continue to exist despite organizational deliberations, there needs to be room for the diferentpositions to be publicly expressed. Such positions need tobe presented in such a way as to highlight the convergencebetween opposing views as much as possible, i.e., to refrainfrom framing arguments in ways that create unnecessaryconficts when characterizing the moral grounds of opposing arguments (see, for example, Gutmann and Thompson1996).What, then, is the bottom line? I think it is well summarized by Linda Alcof, who is often attributed with havingproduced the most infuential philosophical analysis to dateof “speaking on behalf of” (Alcof 1991):What I tried to say in that article is that you can’tentirely avoid speaking for others. Some have arguedthat there are so many problems with speaking for others that we should just stop doing it. But that’s notalways possible. There are refugees who don’t haveaccess to the media. There are animals who cannotspeak directly. There is the environment that cannotspeak. We cannot put a complete ban on speaking forothers, but it’s always preferable to be a conduit thatmakes it possible for others to speak, and to ‘speakwith’ rather than ‘speak for,’ to get more voices heard.(Alcof 2016, p. 92)Rules and Their ExceptionsThe Need to Justify Exceptions to RulesAnother key claim in Tsoukas’ (2018) essay is that the AOMPresident should have extended/modifed the rule on AOM’s“No Political Stands Policy” to enable her to respond in amorally appropriate way: “Insofar as rules are inherentlyunable to tackle non-prototypical cases, leaders need toimaginatively extend rules, thus refning the meaning of theprototypes they historically refer to.” In essence I agree withthis assessment: there always needs to be a certain degreeof fexibility around rules; otherwise rules become straightjackets and hence cannot take full account of the contextualcircumstances that surround ethical decision-making. Atfrst glance, such fexibility can be misunderstood; it maybe claimed, for example, that it threatens to introduce a certain degree of uncertainty into morality (Miller 1956). Evenworse, the rule could subsequently be perceived as weak. Oncloser examination, however, it turns out that such fexibilityis a necessary condition for rule-following—and that at theheart of such rule-following there lies a paradox.Derrida described this paradox thus (1997, p. 6): “So, atthe same time, you have to follow the rule and to invent anew rule, a new norm, a new criterion, a new law.” Wittgenstein (1967, p. 81) had earlier reached a similar conclusion:“This was our paradox: no course of action could be determined by a rule, because every course of action can be madeout to accord with the rule. The answer was: if everythingcan be made out to accord with the rule, then it can also bemade out to confict with it.” What both Derrida and Wittgenstein are emphasizing here is that rules can regulate butcannot regulate the conditions of their own application andinterpretation because this would require yet another rule.There are no objective facts by which to determine whatexactly counts as rule-following (in our case what countsas “political speech”), and this is why we always need toreinvent rules while preserving the spirit of the rule withinthe process of reinvention. Or, to use an analogy drawn byOrtmann and Salzman (2002, p. 214), rules possess a certainnecessary emptiness and we need to “fll” this emptinesswith context-specifc meaning.Of course, the philosophical paradox of rule versusrule-following puts things in extreme terms. In practice weusually deparadoxify such situations, typically by defningexceptions to the rule. Exceptions set the contextual boundaries for rule application. Tsoukas’ (2018) analysis followsthis line of argumentation in conceptualizing what he arguesto be the necessary extension/modifcation of the rule asan act of individual moral imagination.3But who decideswhat counts as an exception and why it does? Exceptions arethemselves in need of moral justifcation and legitimacy. Assuch, there is no concept of “exception” that could regulatethe boundaries of rule application. Derrida (1997) would say3 A further aspect, which would require more in-depth refection, iswhether breaking the “No Political Stands Policy” would actually becovered by Derrida’s understanding of rule-breaking. As I understandit, Derrida (1992) emphasizes that a rule needs to be “broken” inorder to account for contextual circumstances that may not be regulated by this very rule (i.e., because no rule can regulate the condition of its own application). In other words, rule-breaking is supposedto preserve “the spirit” that underlies the rule. The question, then, is:Would have rule-breaking allowed to preserve the spirit of the original “No Political Stands Policy”?18 A. Rasche1 3that the exception is neither inside nor outside the rule. Ifan exception occurs (or even needs to occur), the exceptionneeds to be justifed; and if the exception concerns a moralmatter then the justifcation requires moral legitimacy andhence communicative action (see above).We can now apply this line of argumentation to the travelban case. The importance placed on the exception is basedon the assessment that the travel ban constitutes a residual/non-prototypical case of political speech. Tsoukas (2018)suggests that AOM’s leadership should have framed thetravel ban as a non-prototypical political issue by exercisingmoral imagination so that the exception to the rule could bejustifed. But who is to decide whether the travel ban refectsa prototypical or non-prototypical political issue? And howcan such a decision be justifed? I believe that such decisions can only be made by the scholarly community itself,since the precise meaning of a concept is derived from thesocial system in which it is embedded. As Tsoukas (2018)writes: “It is how concepts are embedded into a community’sform of life that enables its members to make distinctions ofrepresentativeness in concepts.” In my view the decisionas to whether the travel ban refects a prototypical or a nonprototypical political issue involves questions of right andwrong and therefore needs to meet the standards of moraljustifcation. As indicated above, moral legitimacy is a communicative type of legitimacy and thus requires the exchangeof value-based information through discourse (Palazzo andScherer 2006; Swanson 1999).Justifying Exceptions Through Moral DiscoursesDeliberations that can facilitate the attainment of suchcommunicative moral legitimacy can take various forms.Habermas (1990, 1996) outlines a two-sphere model ofdeliberative democracy that can be used as a guideline whenthinking about AOM’s communicative infrastructure. In thismodel the informal sphere of free communication is onlyweakly regulated and can serve as a sounding board fromwhich to source members’ opinions on moral issues. Examples of informal arenas for discourse in the case of AOMinclude online forums such as AOM’s Facebook page andTwitter-based discussions. Although social media discussions often remain fragmented, research has shown they dohave the potential to foster democratic deliberative processes(Halpern and Gibbs 2013). Having a decentralized onlineforum further serves in the case of AOM to acknowledge theAcademy’s international member base and help overcomethe geographical distances between members that constrainface-to-face interactions. The more formal sphere, in whichdecisions are made by conventional institutions and governance bodies, is refected in AOM’s current governancestructure (e.g., its Board of Governors and the ExecutiveCommittee).I believe AOM’s deliberative infrastructure can beimproved in at least two ways. A frst point to consider isthat AOM has no framework regulating how both spheresare supposed to interact. It is unclear whether any inputfrom the informal sphere can be legitimately used byAOM’s governance bodies or how such input could beused. Habermas placed the burden of legitimation on theinterchange between the formal and informal spheres. AsFlynn (2004, p. 440) argues: “The informal public sphereacts as a ‘context of discovery’, while institutionalizeddeliberative bodies, which are authorized to act, take onthe stronger argumentative burden of a ‘context of justifcation’.” The informal sphere engages in opinion formationand thereby generates the normative reasons that can beconsidered in formal governance arrangements. Althoughthe informal sphere is not directly linked to decision-making, as some advocates of deliberative democracy wouldrecommend (Fraser 1992), it nonetheless ensures, in thewords of Habermas (1996, p. 308), that “new problem situations can be perceived more sensitively [and] discoursesaimed at achieving self-understanding can be conductedmore widely and expressively”. The formal sphere needs tocope with the burden of justifcation. In the case of AOMthis entails considering such questions as how input fromthe informal sphere is integrated in formal decision-making, who safeguards such integration, and how to ensurethat diverse perspectives from the informal sphere fndtheir way into formal decision-making. AOM has alreadytaken a step towards connecting both spheres by amending its “No Political Stands Policy”. The amended Policyincludes a channel through which any member can submita proposal requesting AOM to consider taking a stand onan issue. The proposal is then subject to a vetting processby AOM’s governance bodies (AOM 2018b).Another area for improvement in participation relates tothe nature of AOM’s current informal arenas for discourse.Tsoukas’ (2018) analysis points to the relevance of socialmedia by mentioning that discussions on AOM’s Facebookpage challenged the initial decision. In 2017, AOM still hada rather fragmented landscape of virtual platforms (e.g.,Twitter feeds and e-mail lists). The introduction of [email protected] improved this situation, as the new platformsupports synchronous communication among memberswithin a system run directly by AOM. With this reform,[email protected] now constitutes an ofcial online forum inwhich members can meet and discuss controversial issues.If deliberative solutions are to play a role in securing theacceptability of future decisions, the deliberations takingplace within this forum need to be connected to decisionmaking by AOM’s formal governance bodies. [email protected] does not yet have any formalized links toAOM governance, the forum provides an online space inwhich members of the Board of Governors can get a feeling“Speaking on Behalf of…”: Leadership Ethics and the Collective Nature of Moral Refection 191 3for what is being discussed among members and also highlight specifc discussions (if needed).Prior research has highlighted various design featuresthat enhance the deliberative potential of such forums, someof which features are relevant in the case of AOM. Theseinclude (1) the existence of a moderator to facilitate discussions (Wright 2009). Although [email protected] currentlyincludes some moderation, there is the possibility of makingmore formal appointments of active moderators who wouldthereby serve as a stable link between the online forumand the organization’s formal governance bodies. Anotherpossible design feature is (2) the recognition of networkedinformation access (Halpern and Gibbs 2013), i.e., the needto secure interactions across diferent types of online communities (e.g., the integration of the [email protected] forumwith existing Facebook or Twitter channels). Such interactions can act as a catalyst for deliberation and increase theprobability of contact with novel sources of information. Afurther consideration is (3) the need to design a forum insuch a way as to enable asynchronous deliberation so thatparticipants have time to refect on and justify contributions(Friess and Eilders 2015). Lastly, there is (4) a need to identify users in order to enhance accountability and to fostersincerity, rationality, and civility in deliberations (Colemanand Moss 2012). These features cannot fully compensatefor some of the structural difculties that surround onlinedeliberation in general, but they can improve the quality ofresults. The launch of [email protected] is a move in the rightdirection, but AOM also has to discuss the extent to whichthis platform can be further utilized for decision-making, forinstance by integrating a special moderated space in whichonline consultations on specifc topics can directly feedinto discussions of the Board of Governors. Such organizedonline consultations are already used in politics to betterconnect citizens to their representatives (see, for example,Setala 2017).On the Limits of Deliberative SolutionsWhile it may seem from the above that I am promotingdeliberation as the ultimate answer to securing legitimatedecisions within AOM (and other organizations), this is notthe case and it would be naïve to view deliberative decisionmaking in this way. Deliberative solutions are neither alwayspossible nor always desirable.4Deliberation cannot be thesolution when arenas for discourse are not available or cannot be accessed. For instance, an isolated whistleblowershould fnd it hard to enter into deliberations within her/hisorganizational context. However, AOM has relevant arenasin place (although these arenas could arguably be improved;see above) and Professor McGahan was by no means anisolated whistleblower. Deliberation was therefore not onlynecessary but also possible. The problem in the case of thetravel ban was not a lack of communication per se (e.g.,McGahan 2019 describes the various ways in which sheinteracted with members) but (a) that informal and formaldeliberations were not aligned very well and (b) that suchalignment was constrained by the organization’s “No Political Stands Policy” at the time.Deliberation is also not always desirable. Schkade et al.(2010), for instance, found that deliberation among peoplewith very similar opinions produced more extreme attitudes.However, we cannot expect such extreme homogeneity ofopinions in the travel ban case. While it seems reasonable toassume that the majority of AOM members would have beenin favor of condemning the Executive Order, the questionof whether or not AOM should take a political stand wouldlikely have generated more heterogenous opinions (see alsothe CMS survey discussed above). AOM itself remarked inthis context:Critics who argue that AOM should have taken immediate action to ‘oppose’ or ‘condemn’ the travel banare implicitly suggesting that there was a consensusamong AOM members that AOM should take theseactions. This is not an accurate description of the AOMmembership. It is true that a group of members encouraged AOM to take such action. But, even among AOMmembers who personally opposed the travel ban, therewas not consensus that AOM the ‘institution’ shouldrevise its policy on taking stands. (AOM 2019c)There is no single best way for dealing with situationsthat threaten the legitimacy of an organization. Scherer et al.(2013) also emphasize this point, distinguishing the following three strategies for responding to legitimacy threats:adapting to societal expectations; actively infuencing relevant expectations; and engaging in moral reasoning basedon deliberation. They argue against viewing any one of thesestrategies as the only best solution, for instance because contextual conditions difer among organizations and envisionedsolutions cannot always be realized. Deliberation throughmoral reasoning can be an option to resolve legitimacythreats, especially when expectations are heterogonous andparticipants need to refect on controversial issues, but it isnot the only option; other options would include, for example, majority voting, individual decision-making withoutdiscourse, and eforts to infuence expectations. McMurtrie(2014) shows how some scholarly associations allow members to vote on resolutions in order to decide whether the4 organization should take a public stand on an issue. I thank Reviewer #2 for a number of helpful suggestions on thelimits of deliberative reasoning discussed throughout this section.20 A. Rasche1 3A deliberative approach towards the travel ban case (e.g.,via moderated ofcial discussions) would have emphasizedto a greater extent the range of member opinions vis-à-viskey questions (e.g., Should AOM take a public stand? Doesthe issue refect a moral and/or a political problem? Is thetravel ban as such legitimate?). Deliberation would haveuncovered reasonable disagreement among members on atleast some of these questions and in doing so would havefurther clarifed the sources of such disagreement and helpedtowards gaining an understanding of the reasons employedby others. We cannot know whether consensus would havebeen achieved; but productive deliberation, as indicatedabove, is multifaceted and not exclusively about consensus.5One important limitation of deliberative thinking is thatit does not sufciently consider the deeply embedded powerrelations that exist in decision-making contexts. The AOMhas its own conficts, and the organization as such is representative of specifc interests that in turn shape its policiesand decisions.6Real-life deliberative practice shows thatcoercive power is ubiquitous (Hendriks 2009); such poweris an inherent part of argumentation processes and usuallyafects deliberative procedures in some way. It could evenbe argued that certain kinds of power are necessary whenadopting a deliberative perspective (e.g. the power to implement decisions). The aim must be (a) to identify and analyzewhere and in which ways diferent levels of power relationsmay limit AOM’s deliberative potential (e.g., it is likely thatthe informal and formal spheres of deliberation have inherently diferent power structures), and (b) to design discursivearenas in such a way that misuse of power is limited as faras possible, for instance by using moderators and ensuringthat deliberations are public.Conclusion: “We, as Academics, …”The purpose of this essay was to discuss some of the limitations that arise in considering Tsoukas’ (2018) analysis ofAOM’s response to the travel ban. My arguments have aimedto show two things in particular. First, I highlighted the needto consider the problem of “speaking on behalf of” whenevaluating AOM’s initial response, and the need to betteracknowledge others’ perspectives (“speaking with”) withinrelevant speech acts. Given the importance of acknowledging others’ perspectives, moral imagination cannot be seenas an individual cognitive act but must be understood as acollective process. These arguments showed the difcultiesthat arise when individuals need to speak for others. Further,the arguments emphasized that the deliberative justifcationof such decisions should be seen as an enabling condition.Second, I showed that while exceptions to rules are important and unavoidable, it is critical to understand the needto justify these exceptions communicatively. Refecting onwhat counts as an exception requires more than asking individuals to “imaginatively extend rules” (Tsoukas 2018) andis therefore not a task that should be assigned exclusivelyto the AOM leadership. Exceptions to rules that cover ethical questions require moral justifcation and legitimacy. Inaccordance with deliberative thinking, such justifcationrequires broader communicative processes embedded informal and informal discursive arenas.I realize that my arguments might risk being perceived asrather technocratic and reductionist. Admittedly, the complexities surrounding AOM’s decision vis-à-vis the travelban are signifcant, and Tsoukas’ (2018) essay, as well asthis rejoinder, do not address a number of important aspects,such as the infuence of the specifc historical and politicalcontext in which AOM operates as well as the role of powerand confict within decision-making. After all, we shouldnot forget that classifcations and distinctions such as thatof ethical versus political (Tsoukas’ article), or individualmoral imagination versus collective moral imagination (thisarticle), also rest on operations of power. Parker’s (2003)analysis, for instance, unpacks some of the difculties thatarise in seeing ethics and politics as a dualism. He suggeststhere is no pure and self-defning moral reasoning; questionsof morality always already contain political dimensions. Afurther analysis of AOM’s decision regarding the travel banwould thus need to deconstruct relevant oppositions, forinstance by asking whether AOM’s revised “No PoliticalStands Policy” (AOM 2018b), which is focused on takingpolitical stands, is not also inevitably a policy on taking ethical stands. Or, as Derrida (2002, p. 305), said: “the politicalimperative and the ethical imperative are indissociable.”We should realize that while publicly condemning theExecutive Order refects an important performative speechact, it is far from being the only response that we, as academics, can give. President Trump’s Executive Orderis based on wrong assumptions and questionable data(e.g., regarding the security gains from imposing a travelban). We, as academics, have a responsibility to ensurethat correct and transparent data is used when makingsuch decisions—as difcult as this may be in the current5 The AOM Task Force on Taking Stands, which conducted a specialreview on how the revised “No Political Stands Policy” was supposedto be implemented, carried out a member survey to solicit input. Thesurvey was made available to all AOM members. Overall, the TaskForce received 300 responses. There was fairly high consensus onAOM taking a stand only when the issue directly afected the purpose, existence, and/or functioning of the organization. Althoughsuch surveys are a good way to gather member input, they do notreplace a more deliberative approach in which opinions are directlyexchanged.6 I thank Reviewer #3 for pointing out the role of power in the context of this case. It should be noted that neither Tsoukas’ refectionsnor my own account are focused very much on the role of power.“Speaking on Behalf of…”: Leadership Ethics and the Collective Nature of Moral Refection 211 3environment of fake news and widespread disregard ofobjective facts. Researchers in medicine have realizedthis as well. Spiegel and Rubenstein (2017, p. 680), forexample, made the following case for repealing PresidentTrump’s travel ban in an article for The Lancet: “We, asacademics, have a responsibility and a duty not to ignorethis sufering, and to provide evidence and data in a nonbiased manner that illuminates the important issues forpolicy makers and the public.” Without doubt, there isneed to make immigration, and its efects on many othergrand challenges, an important part of future scholarlyresearch (McGahan 2018). In closing, I would like to highlight two areas where business ethics scholarship can challenge President Trump’s Executive Order.First, business ethics scholars should show that theExecutive Order violates basic ethical principles, especially the principle to “always respect persons” that isembedded in moral theory (Bowie 1998, p. 40). Given thatthe Executive Order bases its argumentation on the claimthat the entry of citizens from the seven countries into theUSA would be “detrimental to the interests of the UnitedStates” (The White House 2017), scholars need to showthat such a case cannot be made, even from the perspective of ethical egoism (Regis 1980), since the Order violates the USA’s own basic economic interests (for exampleit harms the medical system by restricting the entry ofneeded foreign doctors; Khan 2018). Second, businessethics scholars with an interest in the legal dimension ofthe travel ban can assess the extent to which it is alignedwith the international treaties to which the US is a party.Although the US Supreme Court has recently upheld theExecutive Order, it is likely that the ban violates treatiessuch as the International Convention on the Elimination ofAll Forms of Racial Discrimination (Cohn 2018). Businessethicists with an interest in studying discrimination (e.g.Gao et al. 2016) are well equipped to comment on this,including the consequences of the ban for frms’ responsibility and ethics programs.Acknowledgements I am grateful to Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Greenwood, and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedbackand many helpful suggestions. Nany Urbanowicz (AOM’s ExecutiveDirector) answered some questions I had regarding [email protected] a member survey that was carried out by the AOM Task Force onTaking Stands. Anita M. McGahan clarifed some factual questionsI had.Compliance with Ethical StandardsConflict of interest The author declares that he has no confict of interest.Ethical Approval This article does not contain any studies with humanparticipants performed by any of the authors.ReferencesAcademy of Management (AOM). (2018a). Vision, mission, objectives, and values. Retrieved July 14, 2018, from https://aom.org/About-AOM/Vision,-Mission,-Objectives—Values.aspx.Academy of Management (AOM). (2018b). AOM policy on takingstands. Retrieved October 15, 2018, from https://aom.org/About-AOM/Governance/AOM-Policy-on-Taking-Stands.aspx.Academy of Management (AOM). (2019a). About AOM. RetrievedMay 22, 2019, from http://aom.org/about/.Academy of Management (AOM). (2019b). Code of ethics. RetrievedMay 22, 2019, from http://aom.org/About-AOM/AOM-Codeof-Ethics.aspx.Academy of Management (AOM). (2019c). Frequently asked questions on the AOM policy on taking stands. 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