Edited by Kemi Ogunyemi
The traditions of morality in Africa are still largely not codified, making it difficult for Africans and non-Africans alike to refer to them as a guide for daily living, relationships, and the practice of business and management. Certain scholars have even claimed that some African ethnic groups do not have any morality of their own. In fact, African morality is largely based on a virtue ethics approach and is abundantly expressed in numerous traditions, albeit mostly oral. The contributors to this book share rich insights into the virtue ethics traditions from their various countries and the application of ethics to business and management. They provide extensive knowledge of the different ways that morality and ethics are taught and transmitted from generation to generation in the African countries featured in the book. This chapter gives an overview of the other chapters and presents, in tabular form, the characteristics of the various traditions, the virtues they emphasize, the media used in their transmission and their sketches of the virtuous person. The different countries have in common several virtues (justice, integrity, truthfulness, respect, and more) as well as a strong orientation towards communitarianism and the common good.
Africans are so diverse in their ways of life that scholars acknowledge that it should never be imagined that their ethics and morality could be universal. Yet, there are in fact many similarities among the traits that different countries value as virtues. Despite the fact that the context in which each virtue is explained and practised may differ, one thing they all agree on is the notion of communitarianism that each country considers foundational for a peaceful and flourishing coexistence – personally and collectively – in society. Having been preceded by chapters presenting the virtue ethics traditions of seven African countries and their applications to business and management, this chapter continues the focus on the application of these traditions in four areas, namely: the pursuit of workplace flourishing, stakeholder considerations, social and environmental sustainability, and management education. Finally, the discourse ends by suggesting complementary contributions that African virtue ethics traditions could make to mainstream Western virtue ethics.
Edited by Kemi Ogunyemi
Kemi Ogunyemi and Ogechi Obiorah
The African worldview presents the community as a system that advances the common good so as to favour all its members and therefore fosters responsibility and virtue in them for this purpose. This places a burden on those people in the community who, while working towards their personal and corporate goals, have the responsibility of managing resources for the good of everyone. This worldview resonates with the global drive towards establishing more responsible economies and societies. Also, African culture is naturally communal, group-oriented, and consensual in decision-making, desirous of harmony with nature, and risk averse. Such traits are easily translatable into approaches to management that match the concept of responsible management – centred as it is on incorporating sustainability, responsibility and ethics (SRE) into managerial practices. In this chapter, we discuss perspectives of responsible management deriving from African indigenous wisdom and practices, specifically notions of management from Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups that enjoin management in favour of the common good and responsible stewardship. Beginning with the understanding of the primacy of the common good, we go on to present the type for virtuous management as inspired by the omoluwabi concept and discuss various Igbo and Yoruba proverbs as well as the practice of business apprenticeship. Thus, discourse is initiated around principles which are locally but at the same time globally relevant as alternatives to the more widely known conceptions and practices of responsible management. Although the decision to be responsible comes from the individual, the society’s tenets encourage and nurture it. How? Its indigenous virtuous management sayings, traditions and practices guide the practice of virtue and act as safeguards that help responsible managers to keep their eyes fixed on the common good of their communities, and of humanity, and stay within the virtuous circle.