Reckoning with Slavery: Revisiting Management’s Uncomfortable Past

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Caitlin Rosenthal, Nonprofit Quarterly
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This article is, with publisher permission, adapted from a more extensive journal article, “Reckoning with Slavery: How Revisiting Management’s Uncomfortable Past Can Help Us Create Better Futures,” published earlier this year by the Academy of Management Learning & Education.

Business schools and students pitch themselves as change-makers. But too often the heady assumption is that change will be good—that doing good and doing well align naturally. Or, worse, that bigger change will be better change. Businesses can, of course, do lots of good, but it is neither universal nor inevitable, and the business history of slavery offers a powerful antidote to such assumptions. Planters’ brutal practices show just how much it is possible to overlook in the pursuit of profit.

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