Compassion in the Context of capitalistic organizations: Evidence from the 2011 Brisbane floods

Publisher:
Springer
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Business Ethics, 2015, 130 (3), pp. 683 - 703
Issue Date:
2015
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Despite common assumptions that capitalism and compassion are contradictory, we theorize that compassion (1) can be compatible with capitalism, and (2) may either manifest or be inhibited within capitalistic society through a range of organizational approaches. These, in turn, result in varying consequences for employees experiences, feelings, and behaviors. In this article, we examine the perceived support provided to employees by their organizations during the 2011 Brisbane flood. Analysis of interview data identifies a continuum of organizational responses: from neglect to ambiguity to compassionate care, each of which engendered various employee experi- ences, feelings, and behaviors toward themselves, their organizations, and the community at large. The empirical findings lead to theorizing that the perceived organizational responses are consonant with a range of capitalistic ten- dencies. Perceived organizational neglect is most conso- nant with neoclassical capitalism, understood as having a primary focus on self-interest and profit maximization. Perceived ambiguity tends to fit with a supplemental capitalism that adds social responsibility to the baseline of classical capitalism. Organizational compassionate care fits with a transformed or conscious capitalism that considers value creation in society to be an organizations primary purpose.
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