Doctorate Thesis: Introduction

This doctorate thesis in business administration (DBA) refers to the positive theory of integrity, enriched and articulated scientifically from 2004 by Professor Emeritus Michael C. Jensen of Harvard University and provides a managerial perspective on this new theory by taking up where the normative approach to integrity had shown its limits to the doctoral student. The new theory of integrity proposes a new paradigm of integrity based on ontology and phenomenology in which the individual, the leader, and the organization as a human entity would have concrete access to a necessary condition to maximize the opportunity for performance: to honor one’s word (speech as a fundamental constituent of the human being). Using the prism of the theory of integrity, the author illustrates management situations experienced to try to see if this theory opens up new perspectives in management.

The theory of integrity is recent; the doctoral student thus traces the origins of the theory in particular through the whole work of Professor Jensen who has developed a complete scientific articulation of the theory from the « ontological » integrity advanced by Werner Erhard and from the use of this theory in companies by Steve Zaffron (both co-authors with Jensen). 

The theory of integrity is based on ontology, the study of being (human) and is therefore more appropriately approached via personal experience. Thus, the author makes a retrospective of his experience as a business leader who has been exposed to this theory which brings him to present some dimensions of a new management integrating the theory of integrity. 

The thesis concludes with a review of the research issues facing this theory, including its positive dimension, and concludes that the theory of integrity can provide useful and complementary insights into management. Calling for empirical studies of this theory in business, the author discusses the difficulty of isolating the variable « integrity » as a necessary condition among the variables explaining the increased performance of firms, if any.

Luc Labelle
September 2017