Leadership, the American Academy of Management, and President Trump’s Travel Ban: A Case Study in Moral Imagination
SourceJournal of Business Ethics
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In this essay, I focus on the initial reaction of the then leadership of the Academy of Management (AOM) to President Trump’s travel ban issued in January 2017. By viewing the travel ban in purely administrative terms, AOM leadership framed it as an example of “political speech”, on which they were organizationally barred to take a public stand. I subject this view to critical assessment, arguing that the travel ban had a distinct moral character, which was antithetical to scholarly values. Τhe travel ban, I suggest, should be viewed as a non-prototypical case of political speech, which required AOM leadership to flexibly adapt existing rules in situ: to imaginatively frame the travel ban in order to undertake responsible action. Accordingly, the early 2017 AOM rules about political speech should be seen not as recipes-for-action but as reminders-for-action, thus allowing an imaginative reframing. Finally, exploring the notion of moral imagination, I distinguish between “disclosive” and “incremental” moral imagination and responsibility, and suggest that AOM leadership engaged mainly in the latter.