Beyond Rules in Society and Business

This provocative book challenges traditional tenets about behavioral regulation in society as well as in business. Verner Petersen asserts that attempts to solve ethical problems by creating explicit guidelines, codes and rules discourage individual reflection and responsibility. Likewise, attempts to put important aspects of human life into tabular form, by devising schemes for counting everything that matters, have serious flaws, leading to further erosion of individual responsibility and insight. This book stresses the importance of tacit knowledge, ineffable values and a shared social grammar, as the foundation for individual responsibility and ethical awareness. It shows how the moral fabric of societies may be inculcated, changed and kept alive through individual decisions and actions. Based upon these ideas he argues that the open-endedness of self-regulation is the only viable alternative to modern bureaucratic attempts to regulate and control behavior. Instead of explicit regulation from the outside, putting a leash on a straining economic logic, it argues that this logic can be contained by the self-regulation of business and the responsible entrepreneurship of individual decision-makers. To make this possible Petersen presents a new view of leadership. He shows how spirited leadership can give direction, sense and latitude to employees, and asserts the importance of tacit knowledge and ineffable values for achieving coherence and unity of purpose. Scholars and students interested in management, leadership and ethics will find this well-argued volume intriguing and convincing as will business practitioners, HR professionals and those concerned with public regulation.