Wrong Paths to Right: Defining Morality With or Without a Clear Red Line


Manning, Ryann, and Michel Anteby. 2016. “Wrong Paths to Right: Defining Morality With or Without a Clear Red Line.” Organizational Wrongdoing: Key Perspectives and New Directions, edited by D. Palmer, R. Greenwood, and K. Smith-Crowe, 47-71. London: Cambridge University Press. Copy at https://j.mp/2oyTF3f
wrong_paths_to_right.pdf2.72 MB


The extensive literature on organizational wrongdoing tends to assume that a clear red line divides the moral terrain. However, many organizations function not as moral orders, but as moral pursuits in which there is intentionally no explicit definition of right and wrong; members are encouraged to engage in an ongoing pursuit of personal morality. We use illustrations from field sites in which red lines proved either well-defined or elusive to theorize differences in forms of wrongdoing in moral orders versus moral pursuits. More specifically, we explore cases in which organizational actors seek to (re)define right and wrong and to pursue actions that they consider moral, but that others in their setting consider wrongdoing. We identify two sets of misaligned moral strategies: one involving moral hijacking, moral assembling, and moral blurring that occurs when individuals engage in a moral pursuit from within the context of a moral order; and another involving moral circumscribing, moral spotlighting, and moral seceding that occurs when individuals seek to establish a moral order from within a moral
pursuit. We develop this typology to highlight the importance of context in defining wrongdoing, and to better understand the variety of wrongdoing in organizations.

Last updated on 09/12/2016