Arendt’s Action Philosophy and the Manager as Eichmann, Richard III, Faust, or Institution Citizen

by Richard Nielsen



Hannah Arendt was a respected and controversial philosopher and political theorist who died in 1975. Her most noted work was "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report On The Banality of Evil." Originally commissioned by and published in the journal "The New Yorker," it was later expanded into book form. It is considered something of a modern classic due to its thought provoking analytic power. Arendt's philosophy of action and her analysis of Eichmann as a person and of his organizational situation can be an important aid in helping people manage both effectively and morally under pressure in turbulent times. Arendt was concerned with the relationship between thinking and acting, between philosophy and politics. Many managers know that conflicts can exist between institutional requirements to obey orders and individual conscience, that institutions can harm people, and that responsibility for institution behavior that harms people is shared at different organizational levels. While literally thousands of articles and books have been published about managing under stress from a psychological perspective, relatively little has been published from a philosophical perspective.

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