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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Joanne B. Ciulla on the Critical Need for Ethical Leadership

The last few news cycles are good evidence for the continued importance of infusing leadership with ethics. In this week's #FacultySpotlight, we're featuring the work of Dr. Joanne B. Ciulla, who serves as Director of the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Professor of Leadership Ethics in the Department of Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School. She is the author of The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work (2000) and The Search for Ethics in Leadership, Business, and Beyond (2020)

Q: How does your research inform your teaching and service at the university?

A: I am a philosopher who teaches in a business school. My scholarship spans three topics that are part of what I teach in my business ethics courses. The first is business ethics, where I publish on various issues from moral imagination to ethics in the workplace. The second is philosophy of work. Here I examine the meanings of work and work’s relationship to questions concerning “the good life.” Third, my primary research is leadership ethics. For over 30 years, two related questions have driven this research: “Why is it difficult to be an ethical leader?” and “What are the ethical challenges of leadership?” I have written on subjects ranging from leadership and care to leadership and adultery. While my research is interdisciplinary, it mainly draws from the humanities, as does my teaching. The humanities are essential in business education because of the effect businesses have on our individual and social well-being. Exposure to philosophy, history, art, and literature develops students’ perspectives on who they are and where they stand in the context of our diverse and changing world.

My research also informs my service as the director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership and on committees, where we often grapple with questions about employment and how our initiatives align with the university's values and mission.

Q: How does this work advance the university's mission as a publicly-engaged anchor institution?

A: As a publicly-engaged anchor institution, Rutgers plays an essential role in developing good citizens who, when necessary and appropriate, possess the values, knowledge, and leadership skills to address ethical problems in the workplace and society.

Hear more from Dr. Ciulla on ethical leadership here.

Selected Articles

Ciulla, J. B. (2020). Leadership and the power of resentment/ressentiment. Leadership, 16(1), 25–38.

Ciulla, J. B. (2019). The Two Cultures: The place of humanities research in leadership studies. Leadership, 15(4), 433–444.

Ciulla, J. B. (2014). Searching for Mandela: The insights of biographical research. Leadership, 12(2), 186–197.

Ciulla, Joanne B. (2010). Being There: Why Leaders Should Not “Fiddle” While Rome Burns. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 40(1), 38–56.

Ciulla, J. B. (1998). Imagination, Fantasy, Wishful Thinking and Truth. The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics, 1, 99–107.


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