Special Workshop: philosophy & management

May 27, 2014

This workshop provides executives with an opportunity to take time out for conscious reflection and examine traditional management models through the prism of philosophy.

After Leading in the Dark and Children Coach Managers, the WU Executive Academy has added another "special workshop" to its executive education portfolio: Philosophy & Management. At a time when the "culture of reflection" is falling by the wayside in managerial practice, this workshop, developed in collaboration with Academia Philosophia, provides executives with an opportunity to take time out for conscious reflection and examine traditional management models through the prism of philosophy.

Along the way, they develop their awareness of issues, get a new perspective on their own approaches to leadership and improve their ability to grasp complex connections in a systematic way. All of these skills are absolutely indispensable when it comes to taking accurate and logical management decisions.

True to the motto of WU Vienna, "Rethink Economy", the WU Executive Academy places particular emphasis on innovation—whether it makes the latest academic findings accessible to its students or provides them with state-of-the-art tools and skills. Following the success of Children Coach Managers, the Corporate and Management Development division has launched a new "special workshop" dedicated to the topic of Philosophy & Management.

Philosophers rethink management

The basic idea behind the training format, jointly developed by Academia Philosophia and the WU Executive Academy, is to bring two fundamentally different fields together: the philosophy of science and management. "As a rule, executives are expected to lead the way by taking the right decisions for their organizations. In order to arrive at the right decisions, they need to think logically and make fundamental connections. Philosophy has always been about encouraging critical thought, and combined with management, it offers an excellent opportunity for executives to reflect on the room for maneuver they have in practice and discover completely new perspectives," says Prof. Bodo B. Schlegelmilch, Dean of the WU Executive Academy.

A culture of reflection

Using traditional management models as a starting point, workshop participants take a philosophical, i.e. systematic and logical, approach to reflecting on key aspects of management, such as strategy, structure, culture, etc. The aim of this process is to establish a culture of reflection and examine the sine qua nons of management and business from a philosophical perspective. As participants step outside the confines of their discipline, they can make connections not normally made in everyday executive practice, enabling them to develop their understanding of, for instance, the relevance of views of human nature to organizations, the relationship between the individual and the community, the link between motives and rational conduct or the legitimation of leadership.


"At a time of global financial and economic crisis, we will need a culture of reflection—a bridge between our thoughts and actions—if we are truly serious about turning organizations into places where economic stability and social responsibility combine to form a beneficial whole. Given that, generally speaking, actions result from motives, the quality of our actions is inextricably linked to the quality of our thinking, and it is through reflection that we become aware of our motives. The worthier our motives are, the better we understand them and the more carefully we weigh them, the more of an impact our actions will have," explains Bernd Waß, a founding member of Academia Philosophia.

A tailor-made space for thought and reflection

Each Philosophy & Management workshop is customized around the specific needs and requirements of the organization in question and typically lasts two to three days. The philosophers of Academia Philosophia, Bernd Waß and Heinz Palasser, co-facilitate the event, helping participants to develop their knowledge and skills through a triad of joint reading, lecture and discussion sessions. This approach to learning, specifically designed to provide time and space for thought and reflection in a philosophical setting, makes the workshop a perfect complement to the action-orientedness of everyday executive practice.

Moreover, it ensures that participants gain valuable, new knowledge and insights that they can put to good use in their day-to-day work, that they hone their reflection and verbal articulation skills, that they develop their understanding of issues, and that they improve their capacity to grasp fundamental connections in a systematic way.

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