Human Centered Management

A Systemic Interrelation


Advances in Project Management Series


By Dr. Roland Bardy

Mannheim, Germany


Management and leadership have been defined in terms of objectives, tasks, traits, behaviour, motivation, interaction patterns, role relationships or occupation of an administrative position. Most definitions reflect the assumption that it involves a process whereby intentional influence is exerted over people to guide, structure and facilitate activities and relations in a group or organization. The eminent management scholar Gary Yukl has said that true leadership only occurs when people are motivated to do what is ethical and beneficial for an organization – but he admits that leaders will more often than not attempt to merely gain personal benefits at the expense of their followers, and that, despite good intentions, the actions of a leader are sometimes more detrimental than beneficial for the followers (Yukl 2010, p. 23).

This raises the question of whether there is a divisive difference between leadership and management – with the obvious conclusion that there is an overlap between the two. The overlap will be wider or narrower depending on the person who executes the position. One definition which shows this best is by viewing management as an authority relationship directed at delivering a specific routine, with leadership being a multidirectional influence with the mutual purpose of accomplishing real change (Rost 1991).

But, as has been pointed out by Bowie and Werhane (2005), there is an additional issue that comes into view when looking at who manages a manager. A manager typically works for another, and even top managers serve as agents, for the stockholders of a business or for the elected officers in a public administration entity. This interrelation has a systemic aspect, as it is not just those connections that are intertwined but there is a definite intertwinement as well between the various perspectives that integrate management – and, since it is all about the nexus between humans, we should talk about human centered management.

The ideas explored in this article are based on a new book “Rethinking Leadership: A Human Centered Approach to Management Ethics” (Bardy, 2018) which lays a foundation for what may be called a framework for delineating human centered management. The book proposes that human centered management is determined by a systemic connection between various perspectives. Intertwining management and the human centered paradigm is much more than just a two-way relationship. It is a systemic approach that combines ethics, social relations, economic effects, and institutional conceptions. It is necessary then to embrace all these interrelations in order to validate the analysis. Systemic interconnectedness is an entity in itself, and it is to be studied on its own (Jiliberto 2004). So, in order to attain a characterization of human centered management, the systemic view combines the ethical, social, economic, and institutional perspectives.

The four perspectives influence each other within a systemic interrelation as illustrated in Exhibit 1, and this sequence of mutual effects and feedbacks is a system of its own.


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Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Routledge worldwide. Information about Routledge project management books can be found here.

How to cite this paper: Bardy, R. (2018). Human Centered Management: A Systemic Interrelation, PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue X – October. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/pmwj75-Oct2018-Bardy-human-centered-management-article.pdf


About the Author

Dr. Roland Bardy

Mannheim, Germany



Dr. Roland Bardy
is owner of BardyConsult in Mannheim, Germany, where he mainly engages in management education, and he serves as Executive Professor of General Management and Leadership at Florida Gulf Coast University. Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1942, he received his M.B.A. degree there in 1969, and his Ph.D. degree (in econometrics) from Heidelberg University, Germany, in 1974. He worked in Finance and Administration of BASF SE, the German multinational chemicals manufacturer, for about thirty years until 1999.  Then he took up teaching and consulting at Goizueta Business School, Emory University, at Fachhochschule Worms (Germany) and in various Swiss and Austrian MBA-programs. His areas are accounting, supply chain management, leadership and business ethics. He promotes the philosophy and implementation of responsible development, accountability and sustainability through, among others, the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics (www.wcge.org). Residing both in Mannheim, Germany, and in Naples, Florida, Roland Bardy is privileged to experience both U.S. and European developments in business and academia. He has published, in English and in German, on management accounting, leadership and business ethics.

Roland Bardy is the author of the book Rethinking Leadership: A Human Centered Approach to Management Ethics, published by Routledge in April 2018.  To learn about the book click here.