Supererogation in Organizations: Going Beyond Duty in a Morally Praiseworthy Way

Author: ORCID icon
Dmytriyev, Sergiy, Business Administration - Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
Freeman, Robert, DA-Darden School, University of Virginia

Consisting of empirical and conceptual parts, the dissertation explains how supererogation – going beyond duty in a morally praiseworthy way – takes place in organizational settings. The empirical part is based on a qualitative study conducted with faculty and staff in three major business schools in the South-East of the United States. The study findings have provided the basis for the development of affectual theory of supererogation. The theory postulates that the process of supererogation is largely emotion-laden and it consists of five stages: learning about supererogatory opportunities (agent-based vs. request-based), triggers of attendance (interest, similar experience, affinity by values), drivers of action (enjoyment, compassion, extended duty), supererogatory act (dependent on agent’s preferences and beneficiary’s consent), and reaction to supererogatory behaviors (positive vs. mixed). The theory also posits that the relationship between agent’s affectual response to a supererogatory opportunity and her actual supererogatory behavior is moderated by agent’s capacities (bandwidth, capability fit, emotional fit, and interpersonal fit). Affectual theory of supererogation contributes not only to a better understanding of the phenomenon of supererogation in organizations, but also to the literature on moral decision making showing that moral behavior is often driven by positive emotions (enjoyment, compassion, and extended duty) in contrast to the perspectives of cognitive reasoning and negative emotions that have been prevailing in the literature. The conceptual part of the dissertation explores the role of supererogation in bridging major ethical theories based on deontic and aretaic doctrines. It shows that by separating in time aretaic and deontic judgments (depending on the development stage of agent’s particular virtues), supererogation enables a shift from deontic to aretaic values in the agent’s mind.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
supererogation, going beyond duty, motives, reaction, aretaic values, deontic values
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: