Oneness Approach to Enterprise Governance: Beyond the Boundary of the Self and the Enterprise

超越自我及企業界域的一道企業管治

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date27 Aug 2020

Abstract

Purpose: This research examines how the oneness approach to enterprise governance, as a philosophical perspective and business resource, can be deployed to facilitate the development of responsible leadership and virtuousness in enterprises, and assesses the policy and managerial implications arising.

Design and methodological approach:
This research follows a philosophical discourse which emphasizes arguments and analytical analysis to set the basis for normative guides for behaviour, underpinned by empirical and theoretical discourse from the social sciences. New tools (known as integrators, differentiators, and connectors) are expounded and setting them alongside with insights from the Chinese philosophical tradition to generate the themes developed to support the oneness approach to enterprise governance.

Findings:
• Oneness leadership : Oneness CEO (denoted by CEO*) acts as advocate, builder and captain for enterprise identity (denoted by *). CEO* leads with differentiators in the industry and task environments and serves with integrators in the enterprise and citizenship environments, underpinned by connectors in the total firm environment to create values respected and admired by internal and external stakeholders, ones that foster cooperation and mitigate conflicts in the enterprise's interaction with internal and external stakeholders. These oneness tools are expounded by setting them alongside with insights collected from Chinese philosophical tradition to support CEO*. The balancing act required of CEO* under the oneness approach Yidao一道 is about how best to deploy the principle of the “doctrine of the mean" (zhong yong zhi dao 中庸之道) to balance "will" yi意/“law” fa 法", “principles ”li 理, and “context” qing情 as connectors, differentiators and integrators to create not only the ideal of "inner sage" (nei shen 內聖) and "outer king" (nei wang 外王) as advocated under 王道wang dao, but also to synchronise the synthetic and analytic modes of thinking to generate resonance.

• Oneness enterprise: The outcome of oneness enterprise well-being (denoted by W*) and oneness enterprise sustainability (denoted by E*) can be reflected in the support the enterprise is receiving and can expect to receive from its stakeholders. Shared mission commons (SMC) and shared solidarity commons (SSC), propelled by VES (virtue ethics sentiment) and VEF (virtue ethics flourishing) contribute to better alignment amongst stakeholders. Better alignment strengthens W*. When the interconnections between the enterprise and its internal and external stakeholders are worked out in alignment with each other, those interacting with the enterprise (be they internal or external stakeholders) will experience a greater sense of oneness and acquire feelings of security, peace, and ease when doing business with this enterprise, feelings that reinforce and are conducive to promoting and continuing the ongoing enterprise. Looking ahead, adopting a differentiating to lead strategy for the industry and task environments will rally support for the enterprise from internal and external stakeholders, generating untutored spontaneous (US) interaction amongst stakeholders. Differentiators encourage creativity leading to diversity. Adopting an integrating to serve strategy for the enterprise and citizenship environments will rally support for the enterprise from internal and external stakeholders, generating cultured spontaneous (CS) interaction amongst stakeholders. Integrators create commitment leading to unity. Adopting a connecting to succeed strategy will rally support for the enterprise from internal and external stakeholders, generating spontaneous interaction amongst stakeholder. Connectors create the balance amongst competing forces so at to achieve enterprise unity whilst accommodating enterprise diversity. Greater spontaneity strengthens E*. These oneness tools are expounded by setting them alongside with insights collected from Chinese philosophical tradition to support W* and E*. Wang Yangming王陽明explained how jing 精, qi, 氣, and shen神could work together to promote "energy capacity under oneness" (jing yi 精一). Jing 精 can be understood as the baseline or the capacity of the energy level retained by an individual. This level of energy can be enhanced or detracted depending on how one manages the energy flow of qi 氣. " Energy Vitality" (shen神) can be enhanced or detracted depending on how the person choose to respond to changes in the internal or external environments. The sphere of influence of W* and E* can be understood to comprise two parts: "inner circle", reflecting the brand value of the products and services in the eyes of its business related stakeholders, and "the outer circle", reflecting the brand value of the enterprise in the eyes of the broader community. The sphere of influence can also extend from “patriotic oneness” in the domestic environment to “cosmopolitan oneness.” W* and E* can have a bearing on the extent to which an enterprise is considered at present and in future a great place to work for by its internal stakeholders and a great company to do business with by its external stakeholders.

• Oneness governance : The outcome of oneness enterprise governance (denoted by G*) can be reflected in the support the enterprise has been receiving from its stakeholders, as well as the potential for future support. The enterprise identity (denoted by *), as the underlying framework for formulating the structure and meaning of an enterprise's identity, in relation to its task, enterprise, industry, citizenship and total enterprise environments, provides a basis for attaching such meanings to these backgrounds to formulate the enterprise identity of the oneness enterprise in an interconnected way. The oneness approach to enterprise governance, as a value creation process for shaping enterprise identity connects responsible leadership to virtuousness in enterprises, and help us to understand the interdependence and interconnectiveness of the stakeholders of the enterprise. When the focus of our attention is on the performance of the individuals within a subsystem, the emphasis is on enhancing creativity amongst each member in the subsystem. Creating this value is the function of a differentiator. When our attention is focused on the workings of a subsystem under the system, the emphasis is on fostering commitment amongst members in the same subsystem. This is the value creation role of an integrator. When the focus of our attention is on the total enterprise as a system, the emphasis is on creating alignment with both the performance of the individual and those of the subsystems and the total system so as to foster cooperation and avoid conflicts, maintain consistency, harmony, and balance as the enterprise moves towards achieving the goals set up under its mission. This is the value creation role of a connector. These oneness tools are expounded by setting them alongside with insights collected from Chinese philosophical tradition to support G*, W* and E*. Legalism, which involves the articulation and manifestation of the underlying values in legal and institutional terms, tend to perform a connecting function. Confucianism, which fosters forces of convergence tend to perform an integrating function. Daoism, which fosters forces of divergence tend to perform a differentiating function. G* facilitates an emotional response and establish meaningful connections amongst stakeholders. G* can have a bearing on the extent to which the brand of an enterprise has been and will be admired or respected.

• Implementation: How to adapt the themes developed under the oneness approach to enterprise governance across stakeholders having interaction with an enterprise at all touch points and turn them into operational policies, practices and programs to support strategies and processes that can actively engage stakeholders will be the practical challenge to be resolved by G* and CEO.

Theoretical significance:
This research creates an interface between philosophical studies and studies on enterprises. As a philosophical perspective and resource, the oneness hypothesis is about the interconnectedness of the self with other people and things in this world or with other people and things in the transcendental world. As a business perspective and resource, the oneness approach to enterprise governance refers to the shaping of an enterprise's identity, to be reflected in the self-others interaction experiences amongst the internal and external stakeholders of an enterprise.

This research contributes to practical philosophy by illustrating how the oneness approach to enterprise governance, supported by the tools of differentiators, integrators and connectors developed in this research, and setting them alongside with Chinese philosophical insights assembled between the Classical and Modern periods, can be applied to support initiatives that could be developed to support the development of responsible leadership and virtuousness in an enterprise. Currently, studies in virtuous behaviour in organizations are mainly conducted at the individual level. The primary attention is to be good for the sake of being good. This research complements current approaches by conducting the research at the enterprise level and conceives enterprise virtuousness in terms of the self-others interaction experience amongst the stakeholders in an enterprise as the shaping of an enterprise's identity *. The CEO*, when developing strategies for G*, W* and E*, does not presuppose pure altruism (in a deontological sense), or does it condone instrumentalism (in the utilitarian sense); what he or she seeks to do is to clarify the interdependence nature of the self-others interaction experience among stakeholders interacting with the enterprise. This formulation allows us to approach identity building and caring of stakeholders of an enterprise as not just about avoiding selfishness or self-centeredness or to espouse altruism but to understand how the building of interconnectedness can serve both the interest of the enterprise and the stakeholders.

Policy and managerial implications:
Adopting the oneness approach to enterprise governance can have policy and managerial implications for an enterprise at both the strategy and operational level. At the strategy level, business mission under the older theory of the firm is essentially about satisfying shareholders' interest which is to ensure revenue earned is greater than cost so as to make profits. Revenue and cost can be conceptualised as subsystems (integrators) and the itemised breakdown under each category can be conceptualised as parts (differentiators). Profit which is the balance between revenue and cost can be conceptualised as a key mission goal of the total system (connector). In an extended theory of the firm based on sustainability, in addition to profits, the other two Ps i.e. people and planet under the Triple Bottom Line Approach would also be part of an enterprise's mission (connectors). At the operational level, enterprises found themselves operating in an increasingly volatile environment and hence there is a constant and increasing need for differentiation in more specialised tasks in order to address the changing needs, this makes the requirements for alignment from within the subsystems and between subsystems increasingly challenging in order to achieve a unified effort.

Adopting the oneness approach to enterprise governance also have policy and managerial implications at the wider societal level. The G* framework, underpinned by W* and E* developed in this research provides a philosophical foundation to support the CEO* to develop, manage, and sustain practices in the pursuit of strategies for ESG excellence. ESG (environmental, social, and governance) refers to the three central factors - environmental, social, and governance - used to gauge the sustainability and ethical impact of investing in an enterprise. Being able to measure the depth and breadth of the stakeholder interconnections is the first step to understanding how a thriving enterprise can be built. ESG reporting is a tool to understand how an enterprise is seeking to achieve ESG excellence. ESG reporting has been developed over recent years to provide feedback to companies on how well they are performing in respect to "doing well/doing good.". Investors can use ESG reporting to evaluate corporate behaviour and to estimate the future financial and sustainability performance of companies.

The oneness approach to enterprise governance can be deployed to inform the counselling/coaching process for CEOs of enterprises as they contemplate how best to develop initiatives that can help them shape their enterprise identity *. At the practical level, the oneness approach to enterprise governance is about active engagement of all stakeholders to create the support for *. The oneness approach to enterprise governance can be deployed as a mapping tool to promote responsible leadership and virtuousness in an enterprise. It can also be deployed as a tracking tool for monitoring stakeholder support of an enterprise. To create practical value to the practitioner, the philosophical ideas expressed in statements defining the oneness values and culture would need to be turned into policies as guidelines for actions. Policies would need to be turned into practices. Practices would need to be turned into programs for strategy, people, processes, and customers.