The Banality of Organizational Wrongdoing: A Reading on Arendt’s Thoughtlessness Thesis

Javier Hernández*, Consuelo Araos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper proposes that Hannah Arendt’s book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil furnishes both philosophical and empirical elements to understand not only the Nazi crimes but also cases of wrongdoing by and within current organizations. It is suggested that Arendt provides three relevant standpoints to how wrongdoing is banalized within organizations: a critique of bureaucratic administration, an account of the role of interactive socialization, and a reflection on the cognitive and meaning-attribution processes. Arendt originally connected these three dimensions to thoughtlessness, understood as a process of routinization in which organizations discourage critical thinking, personal responsibility, and reflection about the ultimate meaning and consequences of actions and decisions. As opposed to this, thoughtfulness is proposed as an approach based on meaningful pursuit within organizations to avoid some of the normative, cognitive, and routine elements that encourage, justify, and reproduce the banalization of misconduct.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2024.


  • Banalization of misconduct
  • Dispersed responsibility
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Organizational Wrongdoing
  • Thoughtlessness


Dive into the research topics of 'The Banality of Organizational Wrongdoing: A Reading on Arendt’s Thoughtlessness Thesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this