Measuring practical wisdom: exploring the value of Aristotle’s phronesis for business and leadership

Marcel Meyer, Arménio Rego

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Interest in the virtues is now growing in business and management, both among scholars and practitioners. Interestingly, one virtue that should stand out but has been somewhat neglected is phronesis, or practical wisdom. Described by Aristotle as the “mother” of all other virtues, phronesis is key for management scholars for, at least, two reasons: (1) its importance as to individual and leadership development and effectiveness and (2) its complexity that makes it hardly conducive to be measured. Thus, this chapter’s aim is twofold. First, it depicts phronesis as an up and coming core element in management and leadership. Second, it suggests measuring practical wisdom in leaders at the level of its behavioral manifestations (i.e., leader-expressed practical wisdom – representing practical wisdom as perceived by followers) through considering three dimensions: (1) to “see” (i.e., to study and reflect on the complex reality involved in each specific decision-making process), (2) to “judge” (i.e., to understand, judge, and deliberate the right way to handle that reality), and (3) to “act” (i.e., to proceed rightly upon one’s deliberate decision). Avenues for future research are also suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of practical wisdom in business and management
EditorsBarry Schwartz, Caleb Bernacchio, César González-Cantón, Angus Robson
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030001407
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameInternational Handbooks in Business Ethics


  • Phronesis
  • Practical wisdom
  • Leadership
  • Decision-making
  • Virtue


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