Ethics and Organizational Practice

Ethics and Organizational Practice

Questioning the Moral Foundations of Management

Edited by Sara Louise Muhr, Bent Meier Sørensen and Steen Vallentin

This timely book provides a collection of critical explorations and discussions of managerial ethics and their moral foundations. It is concerned with theoretical, conceptual and practical matters, and thus provides an open and broad approach to a very dense field of enquiry.

Chapter 11: The Sublime Object of Corruption – Exploring the Relevance of a Psychoanalytical Two-bodies Doctrine for Understanding Corruption

Thomas Taro Lennerfors

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, organisation studies


Thomas Taro Lennerfors For the King has in him two Bodies, viz. a Body natural, and a Body politic. (Kantorowicz 1997, p. 7) 1. INTRODUCTION Nowadays, corruption is receiving great attention in various types of media, in research and in everyday discussions. To draw on a discursive strategy often used by business ethicists, there have lately been a large number of scandals related to corruption (Parker 2003). The international NGO Transparency International publishes a daily corruption newsletter, producing a steady stream of scandals. Research on corruption is proliferating as well. While it is difficult to demonstrate that corruption talk is more present in society than ever before, research on corruption has certainly taken a particular path. It is the aim of this chapter to show that this path might do more to limit our understanding of corruption than to guide it forward. To do this we cannot, of course, avoid the question ‘what is corruption?’ Drawing on psychoanalysis and a mystical theory called ‘the two bodies doctrine’, I want to develop an alternative or complementary theory to use for understanding corruption. The main conflict or antagonism of this chapter is that between economics and psychoanalysis. Framed in the broadest possible way, it is about structure vs. subject, matter vs. mind, or desire-free vs. desire-based understanding. I want to argue that one cannot understand corruption if one ignores desire. However, research on corruption has taken exactly this desire-free path; corruption is mostly framed as 199 200 Ethics and organizational practice...

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