organizational leadership, empowerment and sustainable peace

i am still intrigued by the question of the relationship between work, mental health and peace. it is interesting that this relationship is hardly ever explored, not even the relationship between the workplace and peace. however, here and there i find a little nugget. one of them is giving peace a chance: organizational leadership, empowerment, and sustainable peace by gretchen spreitzer at the university of michigan at ann arbour. here is her finding:

we started the paper with the question – can business organizations contribute to sustainable peace? our initial explorations provide some fledging support for our hypotheses that participative leadership practices and employee empowerment can foster more peaceable conditions. how? in simple terms, we suggest that business organizational leaders can give employees opportunities for voice and empower employees to have more control over their work. from these more participatory work practices, employees will be exposed to some of the key characteristics of peaceful societies. when people get a taste of empowerment at work, they may then seek opportunities for empowerment in civic and political domains. in short, business organizations can develop collective agency so people believe they can intervene in civic and political life as well, leading to more sustainable peace.

the idea that business organizations can be a sort of olive branch for peace rather than just a harbinger of excess and exploitation is attractive. too often, it seems that companies seek to have a positive impact on communities through corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility. while these initiatives can be impactful, they are often expensive and can been outside the mission of the firm. this research suggests that business organizations can have a positive influence on peace through their everyday practices around participative leadership and empowerment. while not meant to substitute for more formal philanthropic efforts, this research indicates that business practices affect more than employees and the firms they work for. they can also impact the communities of which they are a part. business organizations can create models of peaceful societies which can ultimately move societies toward more peaceful outcomes. even when financial resources are scarce and impede corporate philanthropy, business organizations can still make a positive impact through participative leadership and empowerment practices. business organizations can do good for peace by creating good business practices. ultimately, it’s a win-win outcome because the business organizations benefit from these progressive management practices while societies benefit from having models for peace.

do you know an organization that embodies these values? have you ever worked in one?

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