What is Humanistic Management ?

Managing as if people matter

Humanistic management is a distinct perspective on management in which people matter. Ever heard of human resources, human capital, humans as most important assets? All these terms denote people as a means to the end of some organizational purpose, say productivity or shareholder value. None of these terms indicate the intrinsic value of human beings as humans first and foremost. That inherent value, humanistic management practitioners label dignity.

Now, of course not only human beings possess dignity, all life does. Still, the mainstream approach to management, tacitly assumes that if something is not measured it cannot be managed. As a consequence of such thinking, those things that have a price take priority over those that do not, say human integrity, environmental beauty, or quality of life. This process is also often described as commodification and current reality shows that all the commodities traded on some exchange are part of the public conversation (pork bellies, oil, stocks and bonds) much more so than what makes life worthwhile.

Humanistic management aims to create a more balanced relationship between those things that can be exchanged on markets and those that are not but make life worthwhile, i.e. human dignity and well-being. Markets are an important tool and can help protect dignity and contribute to well-being, but our organizing practices need to encompass an understanding for inherent value and values that matter.

Humanistic management therefore creates a higher awareness of who we are as human beings, what matters to us, and how we can lead a good life that does not cost the earth.