A Philosophy of Leadership and Management

The topic of management and leadership, within the discipline of library and information science can be philosophical. The complexities that create management or leadership and the theoretical or conceptual outlooks that are philosophical together create a philosophy of management. Management and leadership exist outside the field of library and information science and only the concepts of management and leadership within the field of library and information science will be the focus of this paper. Topics of management include people, information, community, and business ethics. Management is only a part of the functioning of a business, although it is essential to everything that occurs in order to create the totality of a business. Therefore, management is a crucial concept to running a good business and a philosophy is helpful when trying to figure out exactly what is of interest, importance, and relevance in such an endeavor. A combination of philosophy and management creates a better manager.

In Management Basics for Information Professionals, a given definition for management is: “the process of accomplishing things through people” (Evans & Ward, 2007, pg. 5). With this definition as a starting point, it is possible to see how complex the topic is in that people (which are typically unpredictable) are a part of the definition of management. According to this definition, people are something like the “medium” with which a manger works. Following from a definition of management, there are different approaches of management, including: scientific, administrative, behavioral, management science/quantitative, systems, contingency, quality, and composite (Evans & Ward, 2007). There is no correct approach to management as is represented by the variety of available approaches. Mixing philosophy with management will form a more developed sense of duty and responsibility beyond strictly the act of managing. An in-depth philosophy that progresses the efforts of a manager is business ethics, which furthers a philosophical endeavor.

Business ethics involves morals (Marcoux, 2008), which are concepts adhering to what is “good”. To practice or study business ethics is to accept a notion of becoming if not already being ethical. Focuses of business ethics include corporations, employee relations, transnational issues, as well as methodology (Marcoux, 2008). Similar to the various approaches that exist for a manager, these focuses create possibilities. Corporations can be ethical in a community-oriented sense. Employee relations are an ethical topic because of the difference that human interaction undergoes in a working environment. Transnational issues may deal with topics of religion or sovereignty. For virtually any business, there exists a form of business ethics. The social surroundings of a business are a topic of business ethics as well.

The community is involved with professional management and a focus on something larger than the individual is important within the practice of management (Sheldon, 1965). Community responsibility is powerful, especially as companies and corporations are held accountable for their interaction with society. If a company, corporation, or institution has a positive and even a helpful impact on its community, it is to the benefit of everyone. Community and businesses are interrelated (Sheldon, 1965) and being aware of this constitutes good business practice. How a business can be ethical in community involvement is by developing the surrounding community, giving back to society, or working for the community’s sake more than the business’ sake. How an individual manager approaches the philosophical topic of business ethics can be explained with a look at business ethics theory.

There are different approaches to business ethics including the social-psychological approach, the economic approach, and the dialectical approach (Pastin, 1985). If a manager is concerned with being ethical, then not only a managerial approach but an ethical approach is helpful. Aimed at good business thinking, approaches of business ethics are based on good business knowledge, which can exist independently of or be created by the manager. Good business thinking consists of three main traits: being perspectival, being experiential, and being intentional (Pastin, 1985). Perspective, experience, and intent are the focus of the good business thinking concept and are emphasized as important concepts within business. A good manager has a perspective that reality fits and not a perspective that fits reality (Pastin, 1985). It is in this sense that a manager can create knowledge, as reality is formed to the manager’s perspective. Good thinking can exist with this good knowledge as a basis. Beyond management and business ethics is the topic of information, which is of relevance in all areas of library and information science.

Information is changing with time (Bawden, 2007) and we as people change with time, which means that the management of information does also change. Thus, library materials or information itself is more varying than constant. This is important when it comes to management because if the topic of management is information, then there will be ever-evolving techniques and resources. Information leads to knowledge, and epistemology is concerned with knowledge, which can lead to a better understanding of information because of the relation that knowledge has to information. In order to better understand information, an epistemological approach can help.

Within library and information science, epistemology can assist us in discerning how to manage and further understand or gain information. “Epistemology is the study of what knowledge is and how people acquire knowledge” (Fallas & Whitcomb, 2009, p. 175), which is relevant to information as how knowledge is relevant to information. “Epistemology can potentially help us to manage information in ways that lead to the acquisition of knowledge (Fallas & Whitcomb, 2009, p. 175).” Making use of information to obtain what knowledge is most desirable and can be an appealing idea in business. It can be accomplished with an understanding of how information relates to knowledge. Information is sometimes how knowledge is acquired and this is a major link between information and epistemology. Epistemology may aid in the philosophical aspect of information management, due to its knowledge-based content. The further that one understands information, the further a philosophy of management within library and information science can be developed. The reason for this is that information is a philosophical topic in almost all levels of recognition.

Management requires responsibility and demands accountability. Management directs people and leadership provides the direction to move. A philosophy of management and leadership lets one ponder the directing and direction. A manager is a person and other people are the focus of a manager’s work, which creates a situation of complexity. Information, community, business ethics, and the workplace are other variables of management. The development of a philosophy of leadership and management can construct a knowledge base that is helpful to the work of a manager, given the nature of the field of management.