Managing ethically cultural diversity: learning from Thomas Aquinas

João César das Neves, Domènec Melé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Cultural diversity is an inescapable reality and a concern in many businesses where it can often raise ethical questions and dilemmas. This paper aims to offer suggestions to certain problems facing managers in dealing with cultural diversity through the inspiration of Thomas Aquinas. Although he may be perceived as a voice from the distant past, we can still find in his writings helpful and original ideas and criteria. He welcomes cultural differences as a part of the perfection of the universe. His systemic approach leads one to place the problem in its proper context, and to reflect on it from the perspective of virtue ethics, with a central role for practical wisdom and giving primacy to neighborly love and natural moral law. Rather than a set of rigid standards with no consideration of diversity Aquinas focuses on the common human ground, which allows for the indispensable dialogue between different positions. When dealing with practical questions, the problem is one of finding the right balance between general principle and cultural specifics, tolerance, and dialogue, always guided by practical wisdom. In this way, Aquinas' approach is neither rigid ethical universalism with no consideration for diversity nor moral relativism with no place for any transcultural and absolute morals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-780
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Cultural diversity
  • Ethical dialogue
  • Managing diversity
  • Natural law
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Virtue ethics


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