The Eureka Repository is closing down and will not be available after the end of 2020. All publications from current Faculty have now been migrated to Symplectic Elements. See the Sainsbury Library Blog for more information. ×

Care and possibility: Enacting an ethic of care through narrative practice

Lawrence, Thomas B. and Maitlis, Sally (2012) Care and possibility: Enacting an ethic of care through narrative practice. Academy of Management Review, 37 (4). pp. 641-663.


The feminist notion of an ethic of care emerged in the 1980s as a powerful alternative to justice as a central orienting value for the development of moral theory, but has been largely overlooked in the literature on care in organizations. We explore how an ethic of care could be enacted in organizations, arguing that it would involve narrative practices embedded in enduring relationships, such as work teams. We articulate three domains of discursive practice – how members construct their experiences, how they construct their struggles, and how they construct future-oriented stories – and from them identify three specific caring narrative practices – constructing histories of sparkling moments, contextualizing struggles, and constructing polyphonic future-oriented stories. We argue that, together, these practices foster an ontology of possibility, a belief system that emphasizes the socially constructed nature of both past and present, and thus facilitates action and an appreciation of its limits. We conclude by considering the organizational conditions under which an ethic of care is more likely to flourish and the impacts of an ontology of possibility on the resilience of organizational teams who adopt it.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: discourse theory; meaning of work; social construction theory
Subject(s): Strategy; Entrepreneurship & Global business
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2015 08:23
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2016 13:47
Funders: N/A

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View