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Bringing the ugly back: A dialogic exploration of ethics in leadership through an ethno-narrative re-reading of the Enron case

Edwards, Gareth; Hawkins, Beverley; Schedlitzki, Doris

Bringing the ugly back: A dialogic exploration of ethics in leadership through an ethno-narrative re-reading of the Enron case Thumbnail


Authors

Gareth Edwards Gareth3.Edwards@uwe.ac.uk
Professor of Leadership and Community Studies

Beverley Hawkins

Doris Schedlitzki Doris.Schedlitzki@uwe.ac.uk
Associate Professor in Organisational Leadership



Abstract

© The Author(s) 2018. In this article, we adopt a dialogic approach to examining narratives on ethics in leadership. We do this through an ethno-narrative re-reading of writing on the Enron case informed by Bakhtin’s ideas on dialogue. Employing concepts such as beautyism, aesthetic craving and recent writing around disgust and abjection in organizations helps us to develop a deeper relational interpretation of written accounts of leadership and ethics in organizations. We identify two underlying and interrelated social tensions exemplified in existing narratives on this popular example of ‘unethical’ leadership practice. Both tensions, we conclude, are linked to denigrating the ugly in favour of the beautiful, and we have labelled them ‘suppressing the ugly’ and a fetish for ‘looking good’. We go on to suggest that these two tensions then combine in the stories about this case to ultimately beautify a toxic masculinized persona. We suggest therefore that our dialogic perspective on ethical leadership narratives helps to uncover how accounts about Enron are developed through an intricate interplay between seeking to ‘look good’ and the suppression of moral judgment by leaders of the organization.

Citation

Edwards, G., Hawkins, B., & Schedlitzki, D. (2019). Bringing the ugly back: A dialogic exploration of ethics in leadership through an ethno-narrative re-reading of the Enron case. Human Relations, 72(4), 733-754. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726718773859

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2018
Online Publication Date May 21, 2018
Publication Date Apr 1, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 9, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 9, 2018
Journal Human Relations
Print ISSN 0018-7267
Electronic ISSN 1741-282X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 72
Issue 4
Pages 733-754
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726718773859
Keywords Leadership, Ethics, Dialogism, Beauty, Ugliness, Bakhtin
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/849249
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726718773859
Additional Information Additional Information : Edwards, G., Hawkins, B. and Schedlitzki, D. (2019) Bringing the ugly back: A dialogic exploration of ethics in leadership through an ethno-narrative re-reading of the Enron Case. Human Relations. ISSN 0018-7267. Copyright © 2019. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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