Developing wisdom and moral duty in management

Michael W. Small (Melbourne Business School, Centre for Ethical Leadership,Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Publication date: 20 September 2011



The primary purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the writings of Aristotle and Cicero can be used to as a conceptual tool to promote an understanding of wisdom, moral duty, and related subjects in respect to contemporary business management practice.


The methodology comprised a critical reading and analysis of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics and Cicero's De Officiis (On Duties). The approach combines both historical and philosophical research. An earlier version of the paper was presented to a group of early/middle managers, and then to a group of more senior/experienced managers.


Both groups supported the idea that the article was appropriate for highlighting moral issues in contemporary business management practice.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation was dealing with the amount of material that Aristotle and Cicero produced. A secondary limitation was translating the original Greek and Latin (notwithstanding the Loeb Classical Library) into understandable everyday English.

Practical implications

Developing understanding of concepts, such as wisdom, moral duty, and related subjects should be included in MBA programs.


The paper has value because: it relates concepts and ideas conceived in Aristotle's and Cicero's time to contemporary management practice, and it illustrates that these ideas are still relevant and applicable in the modern business environment.



Small, M. (2011), "Developing wisdom and moral duty in management", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 30 No. 9, pp. 836-846.

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