Selfless and strategic, interpersonal and institutional: a continuum of paradoxical organizational compassion dimensions

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Political Power, 2019, 12 (1), pp. 16 - 39
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. We asked 32 professionals what organizational compassion is to them. Analysis of the responses revealed four conflicting, if not paradoxical, dimensions. With insight from Habermas’ theory of ‘communicative action’, we paired these dimensions as two lifeworld/system couples: (1) selfless compassion (lifeworld) and strategic compassion (system), as well as (2) interpersonal compassion (lifeworld) and institutional compassion (system). While the colonisation of the lifeworld by system dimensions is a legitimate Habermasian concern, our analysis highlights the potential for system to magnify the power of compassion beyond lifeworld contexts, leveraging and transcending lifeworld/system tensions, aided by dialogue as ‘communicative action’.
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