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									Inequality, Diversity, Work and Community:
         A Capabilities Perspective

   Presentation made at the launch of the Centre for
   Organizational Research, Roehampton University

        Professor Nelarine Cornelius
          School of Management
           University of Bradford
               Overview of Talk
• Long-standing interest in the application of the
  capabilities approach to the study of organizations
• Capabilities approach at heart of a cross-disciplinary
  perspective necessary for understanding of complex,
  multi-faceted business, work organizations and society-
  based problems
• Will focus on three aspects of this work: inequality and
  gender; social responsibility and governance, and
  cross-sector partnerships and city regeneration
Founding Director:

Centre for
Research into
Emotion Work
[and Employment

[now CREWES]
    Gelldelig Foundation Group – Front-Line SE

                          Knowledge Exchange Event, SIN

 Bradford Town Hall

Refugee Camp, Yemen

                              Just Giving – Tertiary SE   Tesco plc
Amartya Sen   Martha Nussbaum
              Capabilities theory
• Developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum –
  critical early events; research on comparative inequality
  and women’s development
• Universalistic position
• Concerned with human dignity and quality of life
• Consideration of the extent to which people are able to
  pursue what one has reason to value; to fully function
  and to flourish
• Importance start point for scrutiny of philosophical
  presuppositions of dominant views within
  HRM (especially) on inequality and work.
    Diversity central to understanding
• ‘Human beings are thoroughly diverse… the assessment
  claims of human equality has to come to terms with human
  diversity. The powerful rhetoric of ‘equality of man’ often
  tends to deflect attention from these differences (and thus)
  can be deeply inegalitarian. Sometimes human diversities are
  left out of the account on the ‘low ground’ of the need for
  simplification. But the net result can be to ignore the centrally
  important features for the demands of equality.’

       Ideas from capabilities theory
•   Rejection of veil of ignorance (Rawls)
•   Functioning and flourishing
•   Voice and agency
•   Basic (talents/gifts), internal (e.g., readiness to act through education) and
    combined capabilities (action depends on, say, law or culture)
•   Realised functioning (actually does) vs. capability set (real opportunities)
•   Instrumental freedoms – building blocks of personal and community
    development (political freedoms, economic facilities; social opportunities;
    transparency guarantees; protective security
•   Accumulation of, access to, and conversion of goods
•   Adaptive preferences
•   Equality spaces
•   Multiculturalism, plural identity and transcendence ‘beyond identity’ ‘Other
    People (British Academy)
•   Julia Annas - ‘past and present’
Nussbaum 2003- Capabilities and
   Fundamental Entitlements
Two views on Sen’s contribution
In this [Sen’s] concept of        “Rather than simply charging a
welfare, the idea of well-being   manager with serving the
is no longer related to the       public, the manager is charged
amount of goods and services      with serving the stakeholders
available to people freely or     in the way that develop their
without any direct                capabilities. For example, a
counterparts, but to the          manager should not just give
satisfaction that a citizen       their employees what is just
receives through a specific       that give them the
basket of goods and services to   environment and
which they are entitled ‘         encouragement to grow and to
                                  find fulfilment in their job.”

Thomas, 2006: 246                 Bertland, Journal of Business
                                  Ethics, 84, 2009
  Career advancement: Senior Woman
         and Men in Personnel
• Interest in fresh views on              • Gagnon and Cornelius, 2000,
  the ‘glass ceiling’                       Human Resource Management
                                            Journal, 13
• Distinctive experience of
  career paths of senior                  • Cornelius and Gagnon, Business
  women and men                             Ethics: A European Review, 2004
                                          • Cornelius and Skinner, 2005,
• Challenge of ‘success’ and                Women in Management Review,
  how it is conceptualised                  20
• Role of the family in                   • Cornelius and Skinner, British
  philosophical development                 Journal of Management, 2008, 19
  (Nussbaum, cited in
  Cornelius and Laurie, 2003)
Philosophy, HRM, Org. Studies, Business
    Commercial, Public and Third Sectors and Society :
                Corporate Responsibility
•   Focus on commercial organisations and       •   Conceptual work on social enterprise and CSR
                                                    (Cornelius and colleagues: JBE, 2007; Cornelius and
    external stakeholders                           Wallace, and Trueman, Franks, Cornelius and
•   Important also: internal CR (e.g.,              Lawler, International Journal of Public Sector
    employees) and sharper evaluation of            Management, 2010, forthcoming); Mdee, Cornelius
                                                    and Lyne and Cornelius and Trueman, Knowledge,
    what is created within communities              Economy and Society
    (goods)                                     •   Trueman, Cornelius and Liddle in Mihalis and
•   Social enterprise – increasingly will           Ashworth, 2010 (forthcoming)
                                                •   Empirical research on social enterprises, re: social
    need to consider social responsibility in       responsibility and governance (Cornelius and
    terms of social organizations, also             Janjuha-Jivraj, Satter Conference, NYU and SBE,
•   Importance of evaluating the extent to          under review)
    which social enterprises enhance ‘the
    good’, access to and conversion of
    goods, and social capital
•   What should remain the role of the
    state in the generation and distribution
    of goods?
•   (Welfare economics; business ethics;
    development studies; public sector
    management; enterprise research;
    urban studies, regeneration studies)
          Cross-Sector Partnerships:
• Rolling back of the welfare state    Conceptual papers:
  towards a welfare mix                • Trueman and Cornelius,
• Cross-sector partnerships seen as       forthcoming (Journal of Business
  the way forward, especially for         Ethics)
  regeneration (UK government) –       • Cornelius and Wallace (Journal of
  arguments for (community                Business Ethics, under review)
  knowledge) and against (primarily
  about lowering cost structure)
• What governance and social
  responsibility guidelines could be
• To what extent do such
  arrangements help diverse
•   Public policy; business ethics;
    marketing; urban studies
    Final Comments: Future Work
• Importance of Sen’s thinking for my work: importance of
  multidisciplinarity for the development of fresh
  perspectives and research methods (photo-records; web-
  site analysis; Laban movement analysis)
• Re-assertion of a central role in business and management
  research of social sciences and humanities for study of
  organizations – policy development and implementation of
• Importance of longitudinal work (e.g., policing, moral
  agency, community engagement project; BAME
  communities, voice and agency; mentoring and fairness)
• Central importance: practice-led and co-produced

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