Edited by Oliver Laasch, Roy Suddaby, R. E. Freeman and Dima Jamali
Chapter 22: Responsible managers for the common good: African (Igbo and Yoruba) perspectives on responsible management
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.
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