Tom Culham presents multiple sessions and chairs a day long seminar at the Academy of Management Aug 10-14, Chicago

City University Canada faculty member Tom Culham presented three sessions and chaired a day long seminar at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, in Chicago August 10-14, 2018. The Research Consortium component was held at Loyola’s center for sustainability. You can read about his presentations below. CityU is proud to have faculty with experience in this progressive area of business management, and to be able to demonstrate leadership as we launch the Bachelor of Arts in Management (BAM) degree program in Canada.

Here is an outline of Tom’s work in the business management research area, and what he was able to share with thought leaders from around the world at the AOM conference.

Improving lives by developing faculty and future business leaders’ self-awareness

Self-awareness is vital for business leaders and faculty who are classroom and research leaders.  Subtle and strong emotions arise in business settings, classrooms, research and in dialogue with others.  However, as part of our work in academia or business we are expected to be rational and emotions are not acknowledged or addressed in a meaningful way. Further, faculty and business leaders’ emotional states influence students’ and employees’ learning effectiveness and performance. Research tells us that faculty and business leaders’ emotions and self-awareness are important in: relationships; motivation; learning; performance, and are at the root of what we value. Therefore, it behooves faculty and business leaders to learn how to work with our inner experience and emotions by developing our self-awareness individually and in group settings. This not only supports learning but also models positive leadership abilities in students who ultimately will be business and community leaders. The purpose and expected outcome of the session is to inform and advance participants’ skill in developing self-awareness around working with emotions by modelling behavior in a safe group setting that assists participants in managing emotion laden situations in academic life. Developing and modelling this skill in classrooms will influence students to apply it as leaders in business thereby improving the lives of students now and their future organizations.

Beyond methodological orthodoxies in knowing: Teaching, research and practice

This panel discussion featured three presenters:

Tom Culham, Ph. D., Professor Program Director School of Management, City University in Canada, Vancouver B.C.

Benito Teehankee Professor, Management and Organization Department, Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University — Manila, Philippines

Charles Tackney Associate Professor, Department of Management, Society, and Communication, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg Denmark.

Incorporating reasons of the heart as a way of knowing in research, teaching and dialogue of academic life

Our education focuses on rational training while emotions, for the most part have been ignored. It wasn’t long ago that emotions were thought of something that clouded reasoning (Bechara, Damasio, & Bar-on, 2007), however recent discoveries in neuroscience have found that even rational thought is undergirded by emotion (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999). Not only has emotion been found to be integral to rational thought, it is seen as fundamental to evolutionary survival (Panksepp, 2009). Discoveries in neuroscience have demonstrated that emotions are at the root of our ethical decision making (Damasio, 1994; Greene, 2005, 2009; Green & Haidt, 2002; Haidt 2001). Observation of those who have lost emotional capabilities through brain injuries illustrate they lose the ability to make effective decisions (Damasio, 1994). The emphasis of our education on rational thought has left us bereft of a language and pedagogy for understanding and developing the emotional content in our decision making.

Buddhists are said to have developed a theory of the mind that sees emotions as central to effective decision making. According to Vokey (2005) people commonly rely on positive and negative aspects of their experiences to justify their judgments of intrinsic value. An event or object that is judged to be good for its own sake as opposed to for the sake of human desires or interests is considered to be of intrinsic value. It requires both an intellectual understanding and an embodied emotional understanding (Vokey, 2005). This cognitive-affective response is evident when people are “profoundly moved in positive ways by experiencing or witnessing freedom, solidarity and compassion; and profoundly moved in negative ways by experiencing or witnessing oppression, alienation, and indifference” (p. 95). Vokey (2001) refers to this as “Reasons of the Heart” (pp. 257–309).

One means of developing one’s capability with reasons of the heart is through contemplative practices, which create a state of mind that facilitates a personal direct awareness of intrinsic value (Vokey, 2005). Our usual awareness is dominated by concepts, discursive thought, and dualism where subject and object are perceived as separate. Contemplation provides individuals, regardless of their worldviews and traditions, with the ability to increase their perception of nondual and nondiscursive states of mind where they may become aware of reasons of the heart (Vokey, 2005). Nondualistic experiences are not uncommon or esoteric. They are familiar experiences of musicians, dancers, athletes, and so on, where there is no separation between action and agent (Vokey, 2005). Those with a greater awareness of nonduality achieve a clearer perception and purer motivation because of their awareness of the unity of all phenomena (Vokey, 2005).

In practical terms, contemplation enables a level of perception that provides a distance from our emotions and the immediacy of our dualistic experience, and yet retains the cognitive content of emotions to provide saliency in practical moral judgments (Vokey, 2005). All of this is not without empirical foundation. Research shows that contemplative practices increase: awareness of one’s internal experience, self-reflection, self-regulation (Dahl, Lutz, & Davidson, 2015), and caring for others (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009).

This presentation will provide a theoretical framework of why it is important to cultivate reasons of the heart and how reasons of the heart are cultivated through course activities in a post secondary business ethics class including meditation, journaling and class discussions and reflections. Approximately one third of the presentation will be dedicated to theory. The remaining time will be dedicated to discussing examples of how this is achieved in the class. If time permits the audience will be engaged in a practice demonstrating how reasons of the heart are cultivated.

Wise leadership for uncertain times: Lessons from the world’s wisdom traditions

This panel symposium included Professor Tom Culham from City University Canada, in addition to professor Robert E Quinn, University of Michigan, Professor Satinder Dhiman, Woodbury University, and Professor Mark Kriger, Norwegian Business School.

Tom’s presentation was titled: Daoist requirements for wise leadership in organizations.

This presentation provided a Daoist perspective on the development of wise leadership drawn from two ancient Chinese texts: the Neiye (Inward training) and the Huainanzi. Two key themes are considered how Daoists propose the self-cultivation of virtue and why and how this impacts leadership.

Contemporary Daoist contemplative practices can be traced to the Neiye (Kirkland, 2004) and parallels the Daodejing both dated to the mid-late 4th century BCE (Roth, 1999). The Huainanzi was prepared by a group of scholars for Emperor Wu of the state of Huainan in 139 BCE. It drew on the Daoist texts: Neiye, Zhuangzi, Daodejing as well as early Confucian texts. The Neiye proposes contemplative practices designed to cultivate an individual’s virtue and associated internal physiological and psychological processes, while the Huainanzi provides examples of how leaders who develop virtue as suggested in the Neiye may succeed as leaders. The Huainanzi states that the most important activity a leader in preparation for his or her role as a leader is to develop virtue through following the inner training regime proposed in the Neiye (Major, Queen, Meyer, & Roth, 2010).

Daoist Self-Cultivation of Virtue

Daoists hold that each person is given a unique inborn nature which is situated in a constellation of: emotions, heart-mind and tranquility. Life is determined by these elements, which in turn are bound by the nature of qi (life energy). Humans are endowed at birth with qi which is comprised of both energy and matter is necessary for life. This endowment of qi determines one’s innate nature, which is vitally important in humans and plays an important role in self-cultivation,

Emotions are characterized by movement and are an inalienable part of one’s innate nature that governs the mind. These elements of human existence are nested, and contradictory and it is in the process of integrating them that virtue is developed. For example, how is the movement of qi and emotions reconciled with the stillness of tranquility? The logic is that the dao encompasses the universals of limitlessness, tranquility, and perfection as well as the specifics of particularity, uniqueness, and motion. Why must one encompass particularity of uniqueness and motion? Because “the movement of qi remains vital to cosmic and human flourishing. That is without qi, emotions and movement humans perish. However, the arousal of emotions inevitably upset the stability of innate nature, it cannot be argued that the Daoist remedy lies in cutting off the capacity of emotions” as this would “amount to extinguishing the flow of qi and (be) suicidal” (Chan, 2010, p. 11). “What is envisioned, rather, is an ideal state in which the mind is quiet and qi moves about smoothly and calmly or phrased differently, the body is active and the mind is quiet” (Chan, 2010, p. 11). The outcome of this reconciliation is a transcendence of movement and stillness resulting in: “The ideal ethical and spiritual state” (Chan, 2010 p. 14). Why is it considered an ethical state? Because: “Despite ceaseless transformations, the dao never becomes exhausted . . . The inexhaustibility of dao reflects not only its power and also purity; that is to say, its operations are clear of pathological movements” (2010, p. 11). Ethicality is defined in terms of purity and limitlessness; we can access this state by emulating or mirroring the source from which it originates. Second, transcendence of movement and stillness is a return to the source of life. “That which gives life is the dao” (Chan, 2010, p. 8), and the “spirit of a person receives its essence from the dao” (Chan, 2010, p. 11). Because the essence of the dao, free of pathology, pure, and inexhaustible is within each person, it is possible to return to the state of purity and limitlessness.

Developing virtue therefore involves cultivating physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tranquility which returns one to the dao. Through a process of returning to the uniqueness and particularity of who we truly are, that is, our dao given genuine selves, we return to dao, which encompasses the universe (Roth & Meyer, 2010b). We become more ethical because we are guided by our authentic selves

Implications of Daoist Cultivation for Leadership

The Neiye outlines the transformation that cultivation provides and its implications for leadership. With respect to your circumstance, social experiences, and your influence on others: “exemplary persons act upon things and are not acted upon them because they grasp the guiding principle of the One” (Roth, 1999, p. 62). “With a well-ordered mind within, well-ordered words issue from your mouth, and well-ordered tasks are imposed upon others” (Roth, 1999, p.64). You will have good fortune; you will not be exposed to disasters and will not be harmed (Roth, 1999). “It will be known in your countenance, and seen in your skin colour . . . Others will be kinder to you than your own brethren” (Roth, 1999, p.80). With respect to spiritual benefits: “you will return to the Way and its dé” (Roth, 1999, p. 78); “you can rely on and take counsel from it [the Way]” (Roth, 1999, p.5), and “the far off will seem close at hand” (Roth, 1999, p.82). In sum, the process of engaging in cultivation as proposed in the Neiye results in a greater emergence of dao in all aspects of one’s life. In conclusion from a leadership perspective it delivers particularly important outcomes: self-confidence, resistance to the temptation of profit, access to a higher level of knowledge, the ability to effectively influence others, and guidance from a higher power (the Way).

Teaching Insights for Business Leaders.

The Huainanzi advocated that the most important action a leader can take is to engage in self-cultivation utilizing the inner training practices of the Neiye. This involves an embodied psychology that offers an explanation for the turn away from a self that was shaped by interaction with the external world and a return to the true self and dé (virtue). This return is enabled through cultivation of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tranquility, which enables a return to the authentic self and simultaneously provides access to the universal (Major, et al., 2010). It appears that cultivation of tranquility enables a shift in perspective from a narrow self-motivated by lust, desires, and immediate responses to emotions to a broader self, situated in an enhanced awareness of its relationship to the universe and as a consequence, a more ethical person and better leader (Culham, 2013). This investigation provides several insights in terms of ethics pedagogy for further consideration:

  • The inner training or inner work proposed by the Neiye is necessary to become an effective leader;
  • Embodied innate nature given at birth is the foundation of a self that is fundamental. A key objective of self-cultivation is to return to one’s innate nature;
  • The standard and guide for ethical behaviour is one’s innate nature, the foundation out of which emotions arise, and which is unique to each individual. Innate nature is given by qi at birth which is a manifestation of the dao;
  • Realizing or knowing one’s innate nature means fulfilling one’s self resulting in a calmness and contentment with one’s self;
  • Realizing one’s innate nature paradoxically also means unification with and realizing the dao whereby one gains a broader understanding of and connection with the universe;
  • People are naturally drawn to external phenomena, which results in the development of preferences and desires for the external and distancing them from their innate nature;
  • People can return to their innate nature by cultivating physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tranquility;
  • Tranquility is not an escape from life. Rather, it is achieved in the presence of and in the full knowledge of the vagaries of life; and
  • The achievement of tranquility enables the return to one’s innate nature and the emergence of (virtue) dé in one’s life (Culham, 2013, p. 101-102).

The symposium presentation was focused on the discussing Daoist theory and the experience of teaching ethics to business leaders using a method a methodology informed by Daoist thinking.

Day long seminar chaired by Tom Culham – MSR Research methods: How to explore the heart and soul of business

This one-day event was attended by 40 people from around the world. Participants were provided an intimate and collegial setting to participate in deep conversation and interaction in three ways.

  • Dialogue with a senior researcher panel discussing emerging spiritual and religion research methods;
  • Obtain advice and exchange information with invited publishers, and
  • Brainstorm and advance your emerging research projects in focus groups.

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