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Human Freedom and Dignity in Human Resource Management – Bridging Theology and Organizational Studies

Graduate School, Arts at Aarhus University


The course focuses on HR management in modern organizations with a focus on the values of human freedom and dignity.

The course will be structured into four sessions. We’ll let the lecturers introduce their themes on which the program sessions will build:

Matthijs Bal:

“This talk will discuss how a dignity paradigm may inform organization studies, and in particular HRM. Drawing upon Kantian and Daoist understandings of dignity, this lecture will discuss the implications of a dignity perspective on everything around people in organizations. We will also discuss practical implications of how dignity can be dealt with on a daily basis in organizations.”

Patrick Nullens:

“Hope is a driving force for transformation, innovation, economic growth and wellbeing. It is an important virtue in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Hope, often articulated as trust and expectations, has a clear economic significance as do the unfortunate opposites have such as anxiety and inertness. Since 2016 the Institute of Leadership and Social Ethics (under Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven) and Erasmus Happiness and Economics Research Organization (under Erasmus University, Rotterdam) initiated a research project to understand and measure the multifaceted concept of hope. The “hope barometer 1.0” was developed and tested in the Netherlands. The second stage of the research will focus on improvement of the hope barometer and implementing hope as psychological capital in organizations and business. This PhD class will report on our recent experiences of the dialogue between theology, philosophy, positive psychology and economics. We will also look into the implementation of hope in current leadership studies, especially in Servant Leadership and Transformational Leadership.”

Bent-Meier Sørensen:

“My lecture will depart from the economic theology developed by Agamben, and give empirical examples of how ‘profanation’ may be a viable, analytical tool in studying organizations. Following this critical trajectory, the theological concept of sacrifice is identified as a central, organizational event, not least in the creative industries. While the lecture will seek to connect organizational analysis with theological concepts, it will, likewise, seek to identify current managerial practices, that are no less ‘theological’ in today’s organizations.”


The aim of this course is twofold:

The first aim is to conceptually explore human freedom and dignity (and related concepts) and to look at what they can mean for organizations (e.g. in HRM, Organizational Development, Leadership, Business Ethics, etc.).

The second aim is to explore the relationships between theology/philosophy and (critical) management studies. In order to enable students in humanities to translate their work to non-academic work contexts, and to enable students in management to recognize and analyse the theological or philosophical backgrounds to organizational practices.


Final program will be sent to participants later.

Target group:

PhD students in the humanities, social sciences and management




Lectures, interactive sessions, preparatory readings received after registration




Bent-Meier Sørensen, Matthijs Bal, Patrick Nullens and Gazi Islam.

Dates and time:

29 November 2017, 12:30 – 1 December 2017, 12:30


Aarhus University, Aarhus (DK)

Nobelparken, Jens Chr. Skous Vej, building 1453, room 415, 8000 Aarhus C.

Application / registration:

Please apply via 20 November, 2017.

For questions on content etc. please contact Jacob Renze Klamer,


Course dates
29 November 2017 - 01 December 2017
Bent-Meier Sørensen, Matthijs Bal, Patrick Nullens & Gazi Islam
Campus Aarhus, Nobelparken, Jens Chr. Skous Vej
building 1453, room 415
Aarhus C
2,5 points

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