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Business Ethics from the Standpoint of Redemption: Adorno on the Possibility of Good Work

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 February 2021

Craig Reeves
Birkbeck College, London
Matthew Sinnicks
University of York


Given his view that the modern world is “radically evil,” Theodor Adorno is an unlikely contributor to business ethics. Despite this, we argue that his work has a number of provocative implications for the field that warrant wider attention. Adorno regards our social world as damaged, unfree, and false, and we draw on this critique to outline why the achievement of good work is so rare in contemporary society, focusing in particular on the ethical demands of roles and the ideological nature of management’s self-understanding. Nevertheless, we show that Adorno’s comments on activities such as art and philosophy mean that it is possible to draw on his work in a way that contributes constructively to the conversation about good and meaningful work within business ethics.

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© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Society for Business Ethics

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