Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business Education (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Corporate accountability is never far from the front page and Harvard Business School trains many future business leaders. But how does HBS formally and informally ensure its members embrace proper business standards? Relying on his first-hand faculty experience, Michel Anteby takes readers inside HBS in order to draw vivid parallels between the socialization of faculty and of students.

In an era when many organizations are focused on principles of responsibility, HBS has long tried to promote better business standards. Anteby’s rich account reveals the surprising role of silence in HBS’s process of codifying morals and values. As he describes, specifics are often left unspoken; for example, teaching notes given to faculty provide much guidance on how to teach but are largely silent on what to teach. Manufacturing Morals demonstrates how faculty and students are exposed to a system that operates on open-ended directives that require significant decision-making on the part of those involved, with little overt guidance from the hierarchy. Anteby suggests that this model—which tolerates moral complexity—is perhaps one of the few that can adapt and endure over time.

Manufacturing Morals is a perceptive must-read for anyone looking for insight into the moral decision-making of today’s business leaders and those influenced by and working for them.

Advance Reviews

"In this first-rate organizational ethnography, Michel Anteby describes the ethos of a premier institution and how it shapes the worldviews and moral rules-in-use of its faculty, staff, and students.” -- Robert Jackall (Williams College), author of Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers

“Delivering a fine-grained ethnographic analysis of the Harvard Business School, Michel Anteby powerfully reveals how this consequential institution does its work. His elegant writing carefully uncovers how the organizational culture combines a logic of profit maximization with moral concerns. This book is a must read for business students and faculty and for social scientists interested in higher education, evaluation, and the making of the American upper and upper middle classes.” -- Michèle Lamont (Harvard), author of How Professor Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment

"Michel Anteby’s spare but well-chosen words offer an up-close and personal look at the inner workings of what many call the West Point of American Capitalism. Theory and reflexivity intermingle as the quotidian manners and mores, rituals and routines absorbed by junior faculty members at the school are put forth and sharply interrogated. Manufacturing Morals is a deft reimagining of organizational silence as sometimes a message, a provocation, a comfort, or an excuse." -- John Van Maanen (MIT), author of Tales of the Field

Manufacturing Morals demolishes conventional notions about business and morality as separate spheres. With Michel Anteby as our expert guide we are taken into an extraordinary journey of how Harvard Business School constructs its complex moral world. With exquisite style, subtle arguments, and fascinating observations, Anteby lays out a new theory of organizational morality. A crucial contribution to the sociology of organizations and culture." -- Viviana Zelizer (Princeton), author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy


"Vocal Silence" First Things, March 7, 2014
"Why Silence is Not Enough" Stanford Social Innovation Review, Jan. 22, 2014
"Harvard Business School Preaches in Silence" The National, Dec. 10, 2013
"Interview with Michel Anteby" Accounts (ASA - Economic Sociology Newsletter),13(1), Nov. 2013, pp. 10-12
"Why Business Schools Need Business Ethics" The Guardian (online), Oct. 22, 2013
"The Management Stylings of Harvard Business School" Strategy+Business, Oct. 2, 2013
La Harvard Business School a-t-elle une Morale?” Le Monde, Sept. 25, 2013 (France)
"Villes-Monde Harvard: La Formation d’une Elite” France Culture, Sept. 29, 2013 (France)
Unspoken Cues: Encouraging Morals without Mandates” HBS Working Knowledge, Sept. 18.
"Prescriptive Freedom” (with C. Anderson), Times Higher Education, Sept. 5, 2013, p. 40.
"Manufacturing Morals" Publishers Weekly, July 22, 2013

"Etre un prof a la Harvard Business School" l'Etudiant,, Feb. 2, 2014 (France)


Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC), March 21, 2014
University of Michigan, ICOS, Dec. 6th @ 1.30pm
Harvard Book Store, Oct. 18, 2013 @ 3pm
HBS Reunion, Oct. 5, 2013
University of Massachusetts, Boston, Sept. 17, 2013
HBS Club de France, June 25, 2013
University of British Columbia, April 26, 2013
Qualitative Social Sciences @ Harvard, Conference, April 5, 2013

You can purchase this book at Chicago Press, Amazon, or an independent bookstore