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Kriel, PJ 2006, 'The relationship of morality, ethics and justice to quality of worklife', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright PJ Kriel 2006


One of the most exciting recent developments in the social sciences has been the rapid formulation and acceptance of evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology (EP) theory informs us that the human mind has certainly evolved and innate mechanisms have been shaped by our ancient social history. Consequently, specifically-evolved mental mechanisms exist that assist the human mind in dealing with complex social phenomena, such as cooperation. Evolutionary psychology theorists posit that for human beings to maximise the benefits of cooperation there need to be efficient ways for individuals to determine whether other members of the social group are operating equitably. Central to successful human cooperation, therefore, we find, amongst others, crucial concepts such as fairness, trust, autonomy, reciprocity, democracy and social recognition.

Because the associated mental mechanisms have evolved over millennia they are largely hardwired into the human brain, are relatively slow to evolve, and have not been able to keep pace with the vast and rapid social change brought about through modernity and industrialism. We are left struggling, therefore, with psychological stressors that exist because of the resultant mismatches.

This research study considers moral ethics within the workplace as an important component of quality of worklife (QWL), and suggests a new view be taken through the lenses provided by evolutionary psychology theory. This is done specifically with respect to the ethics of a social environment (the business community) that is often quite alienating to our socially evolved minds. This study was conducted with reference to business ethics specifically and it highlights the incongruent landscape lying between that and personal moral ethics. Through the application of social critical theory, it challenges the orthodoxy concerning the relationships between personal liberty, justice and the neo-liberal market economy. It also illuminates the reasons why it is important for business ethics and personal ethics to be brought closer together, and it suggests redefining QWL as a way of bringing about this paradigmatic shift.