Aesthetic Rationality in Organizations: Toward Developing a Sensitivity for Sustainability

Paul Shrivastava, Gunter Schumacher, David M. Wasieleski, Marco Tasic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This article explains the coexistence and interaction of aesthetic experience and moral value systems of decision makers in organizations. For this purpose, we develop the concept of “aesthetic rationality,” which is described as a type of value-oriented rationality that serves to encourage sustainable behavior in organizations, and to complete the commonly held, “instrumentally rational” view of organizations. We show that organizations regularly exhibit not only an instrumental rationality but also an “aesthetic rationality,” which is manifested in their products and processes. We describe aesthetics, its underlying moral values, its evolutionary roots, and its links to virtue ethics as a basis for defining the concept of aesthetic rationality. We examine its links with human resources, organizational design, and other organizational elements. We examine these implications, identify how an aesthetic-driven ethic provides a potential for sustainable behavior in organizations, and suggest new directions for organizational research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-411
Number of pages43
JournalJournal of Applied Behavioral Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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