Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to highlight the parallels between the ethical concept of moral imagination and the psychoanalytical concept of active imagination. A model combining both concepts is then proposed and discussed. The paper argues that such synthesis is necessary to understand the process of moral deliberation, as well as to foster more consistent moral choices in organisations. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is conceptual, and builds upon relevant literature from the field of business ethics and analytical psychology. Findings – Imagination is a thoroughly ambivalent concept, which can be used to pursue moral as well as immoral goals. Moral imagination is an important element influencing decision making, but its quality depends on the state of balance of the psyche. A sound and effective moral imagination must be grounded in a healthy psyche, and needs the assistance of active imagination (or other similar activities) to achieve this. Such inner work is especially necessary for leaders to clarify their moral values and capabilities. Research limitations/implications – The Active and Moral Imagination (AMI) model proposed has not been empirically tested; therefore its implications are tentative at this stage. The paper does not discuss in detail other psychological activities which may be complementary to active imagination. Practical implications – Managers and leaders should reflect on their own unconscious, so as to understand the deeper mechanisms influencing their decisions and behaviours. Originality/value – The paper presents an interdisciplinary approach to the role of imagination in ethics.
Journal of Management Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 18, 2012
Keywords: Imagination; Ethics; Jungian psychology; Morals; Moral imagination; Active imagination; Consciousness; Self‐reflection
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