Research Laboratories

The International Humanistic Management Association is proud to introduce its collaborative research laboratories.  Research into enabling organizations to promote dignity and preserve well-being are a cornerstone of IHMA’s scholarly eco-system.  The Research Labs serve to connect to larger scientific networks and expand resources to engage in innovative joint research and the dissemination and transfer of results to academic and business professional communities. The scope of research extends from regional projects to multinational cooperation and also includes the nurturing of doctoral students around the world.

The IHMA Research Labs bring together scholars, policy-makers, artists, scientists and business professionals for scholarly dialogue and debate around specific topic areas related to innovative ideas, models, and frameworks for instilling transformative change in business and society.  The purpose of this program Is to engage research from diverse areas to discuss possible research collaborations and share their work with larger communities. 

Objectives

Research groups are to meet once a month to generate a regular dialogue around their topic area.  Each group may seek opportunities for publishing in the Humanistic Management Journal, special issues in various journal outlets associated with IHMA, our own humanistic management book series, etc.  Research axis groups may also wish to consider starting a Thought Leadership conference around their topic area to generate articles or chapters for their work.   

Discussions for research projects are organized around the following topic areas:

Humanistic Management: Addressing the SDGs Through the Arts and Sciences

The seemingly endless environmental and social crises faced by humankind demand a fundamental rethink of how we organize at the geopolitical level, the societal level, the economic level, and the organizational level. Most large businesses and, more troubling, most business schools perpetuate a problematic economistic view of human nature. The resulting acquisition-at-all-costs business model has pushed our society to the brink of catastrophe. We need new business models to address our sustainability challenges.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted a list of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create a 15-year guideline for social development. None of these primary goals, nor any of the UN SDGs, is addressed by the prevailing greed-based model of human nature ubiquitous in the business community. Humanistic management rejects the view that humans are motivated solely by the drive to acquire wealth and power. Instead, it emphasizes human dignity and well-being by supporting our innate drives for social engagement and comprehension of a purpose beyond basic survival.

In collaboration with the UNESCO Chair on Art and Science for Sustainable Development Goals and the ICN Business School in France, the first research axis focuses on the integration of natural and social sciences with the arts and humanities. A bridge between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making, it aims to implement concrete local solutions for global sustainable development goals.

The purpose of the research in this axis is to prepare and promote change by systematically researching and introducing the imaginary, symbolic and esthetic dimension into functional rationalities, in order to enrich decision-making processes among policy makers. 

The vision of the ICN UNESCO Chair is to engage in holistic sustainable development. The 17 goals are not independent siloes. Instead they are deeply interconnected with each other. These interdependencies imply synergies and tradeoffs that must be considered in the implementation process. Another dimension of holism is the integration of multiple forms of knowledge including the natural sciences, social sciences, the arts, humanities, and faith-based knowledge systems.  Our vision is also universal in scope. That means sustainability needs to be inclusive of all peoples and nature, across economic, national, religious, ethnic and other cultural boundaries at a planetary scale. Such inclusiveness needs a change in mindsets and reconsidering our social and organizational models and theories.


ICN Business School is both a founder and a partner in the University of Lorraine research center CEREFIGE (Centre Européen de Recherche en Économie Financière et en Gestion des Entreprises / European Center for Research in Economics, Finance and Management; https://cerefige.univ-lorraine.fr/).

Other IHMA Research Laboratories involving work in the humanistic management community:

  • Love and Organizing (Agape: Love and Meaningful Organizing (Axis Chair: Harry Hummels, Maastricht University)Axis Chair: Harry Hummels, Maastricht University, Netherlands)

An alien concept in business? Not at all

Love is often an inconvenient value in organizations. ‘Get real’, Rai Sisodia remarks, is often what you hear when you mention the word love in a business context. And still, also in a business environment people do care about others wellbeing and flourishing. It happens in small family businesses, but also in large international businesses like Barry-Wehmiller, Rijk Zwaan or Interface. The latter is even listed on the Nasdaq.

Since the word ‘love’ often starts a discussion on the wrong footing, a welcome alternative is provided by its Greek equivalent: agape. Agape can be translated as a company’s meaningful commitment to the wellbeing and flourishing of others. When we say others, we refer to human being, non-human beings and our natural ecosystem that allows us to live and thrive on this planet.

A Research Lab

To promote agape in business it is important to ensure that the worlds of business and of agape become more aligned. Their respective grammars should be examined and clarified – and bridges between the two grammars need to be built to overcome the gap that currently exists. To support and promote this endeavor, IHMA is now starting a Research Laboratory. Overall, the Lab aims to contribute to further conceptual clarification of the concept of agape in business. A fair amount of attention will be given to empirical studies, to demonstrate that a commitment to the wellbeing and flourishing of employees, clients, partners, suppliers, and communities at the same time promotes the interests of the organization. How do these businesses operationalize the concept of agape? What are productive strategies to promote wellbeing and flourishing in organizational processes – from goal setting to organizational decision-making, or managing the human factor, and achieving the organization’s mission and objectives? These questions arise when outlining an agenda to further an agapeic turn in organizations directed at the well-being of others. The aim of this workstream is to develop a joint agenda for the future of love in and of organizations.

Concrete objectives

The international Research Lab on Agape in Business aims to support the dissemination of already existing research dealing with the notions of agape, wellbeing and flourishing in and of business. Our specific focus will be on these concepts in relation to processes of meaningful organizing. In addition, the Lab aims to support the development of new research helping businesses to better understand the concept in a context of meaningful organizing and to take practical steps in operationalizing and implementing agape. To make this work, this Research Lab invites scholars and business practitioners to join the Lab and contribute in and through:

  1. Online meetings in which new and existing relevant insights can be shared and discussed
  2. Collaborative research is promoted on topics related to agape and organizing.

The ambition of the Lab is to publish a special issue of Humanistic Management Journal dedicated to the topic of agape meaningful organizing. We therefore call on scholars and business practitioners to join this initiative by submitting a proposal. The agenda of this Research Lab emerges from a previous IHMA event, organized by David Wasieleski, resulting among others in the paper: Hummels, H., Lee, M.T., Nullens, P., Ruffini, R., Hancock, J. (2021), The Future on Love and Business Organizing. An Agenda for Growth and Affirmation of People and the Environment (AGAPE), Humanistic Management Journal https://doi.org/10.1007/s41463-021-00117-x

More information

If you are interested or have further questions, please send an email to Harry Hummels, Professor of Ethics, Organisations and Society, at Maastricht University: h.hummels@maastrichtuniversity.nl

  • Technology and Flourishing (Axis Chairs: Fabrizio Maimone, LUMSA University, Italy and Benito Teehanke, De La Salle University, Philippines)

Stephen Hawking famously warned that “[t]he development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”  Less extreme views have taken the position that AI can serve people by freeing them from the routine drudgery of many types of work. Even in this latter scenario, however, analysts forecast loss of livelihood for large portions of the working population –a definite threat to human flourishing which will need to be addressed.  Beyond the economic implications, the already growing use of AI and its impact on the workplace raises questions on how human work needs to be reconfigured to preserve and even enhance the positive impacts of work on various dimensions of human flourishing, such as on physical and mental health, on cognitive and emotional development, on social connections, and on moral and spiritual aspects.

  • Mindfulness and Work (Axis Chair: Sophia Town, Fordham University)

For more information and how to join one of our research axes or to suggest the formation of another research group, please contact David Wasieleski at: wasieleski@duq.edu.

David M. Wasieleski, Ph.D.
Albert Paul Viragh Professor of Business Ethics
Duquesne University
Affiliate Research Professor of Management
ICN Business School, Nancy, France
Contact: Duquesne University
600 Forbes Avenue, 918 Rockwell Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Editor-in-Chief: Business and Society Review

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