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Professional Civility

Communicative Virtue at Work

Janie M. Harden Fritz

Winner of the Everett Lee Hunt Award 2014.
Winner of the NCA Clifford G. Christians Ethics Research Award 2013 from the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research

The crisis of incivility plaguing today’s workplace calls for an approach to communication that restores respect and integrity to interpersonal encounters in organizational life. Professional civility is a communicative virtue that protects and promotes productivity, one’s place of employment, and persons with whom we carry out our tasks in the workplace. Drawn from the history of professions as dignified occupations providing valuable contributions to the human community, an understanding of civility as communicative virtue, and MacIntyre’s treatment of practices, professional civility supports the «practice» of professions in contemporary organizations. A communicative ethic of professional civility requires attentiveness to the task at hand, support of an organization’s mission, and appropriate relationships with others in the workplace. Professional civility fosters communicative habits of the heart that extend beyond the walls of the workplace, encouraging a return to the service ethic that remains an enduring legacy of the professions in the United States.
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Chapter 7: Protecting and Promoting the Good of Place


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Protecting and Promoting the Good of Place


The organizational setting within which much of professional work takes place today has become a salient feature of contemporary profession(s) as practice. The collegial model of professional work (Sullivan, 2005) finds its defined routines within the demarcated physical, virtual, and phenomenological space of the contemporary organization. Professional civility encompasses the good of the local organizational home (Arnett, 1992) as a site for public enactment of professional practice. Caring for a local home is a constructive response to the historical moment within the tradition of profession(s) as practice; such care recognizes limits and offers the possibility of hope for continued contributions from the professions to the human community through the constructive institutional participation of professionals who engage the local home as organizational citizens.

Sullivan (2005) noted the responsibility of professionals today to attend to the good of place: “Someone, or some group, must somehow act out of conviction to make any institution function.…This is the disposition named by the traditional notions of vocation and profession” (p. 260). Organizational leaders and those who enact daily work as part of a particular place—a local home—become institutional stewards of an organizational dwelling, a community of memory responsive to ongoing ← 154 | 155 → direction and change (Arnett, Fritz, & Bell, 2009). Organizations today need the support of professionals to ensure their survival, just as professionals need organizations as a site for...

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