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Czesław Mesjasz Cracow University of Economics Kraków, Poland Do We Know What We Do Not Know? Main.

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Presentation on theme: "Czesław Mesjasz Cracow University of Economics Kraków, Poland Do We Know What We Do Not Know? Main."— Presentation transcript:

1 Czesław Mesjasz Cracow University of Economics Kraków, Poland Do We Know What We Do Not Know? Main Weaknesses of the Discourse on Management of "Complex Learning Organization" 4th Metaphorum Conference: University of St. Gallen, Institute of Management 9-10 March, 2007

2 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Determinants of development of the concept of „Complex Learning Organization” increasing role of “intangible assets” changing methodology – impact of post- modernism, post-structuralism, constructivism reflexivity, self-reference as a replacement for mechanistic, “external” metaphors

3 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 In applications of models, analogies and metaphors the following approaches can be identified: descriptive explanatory predictive normative prescriptive retrodictive regulatory

4 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Limitations of metaphors – reflexivity and self-reference TRADITIONAL APPROACH TRADITIONAL APPROACH – FIRST ORDER CYBERNETICS, – FIRST ORDER CYBERNETICS, „HARD SYSTEMS THINKING” „HARD SYSTEMS THINKING” MODERN APPROACH MODERN APPROACH – SECOND ORDER CYBERNETICS, – SECOND ORDER CYBERNETICS, „SOFT SYSTEMS THINKING”, „SOFT SYSTEMS THINKING”, „LEARNING ORGANIZATION” „LEARNING ORGANIZATION” REFLEXIVITY, SELF-REFLEXIVITY, RECURSION REFLEXIVITY, SELF-REFLEXIVITY, RECURSION („GOING INTO METAPHORS”) („GOING INTO METAPHORS”)

5 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Typology of writings in management: “traditional” scientific research – mathematical models, empirical research post-modernist discourse with well-grounded arguments applied research with less rigorous yet well- defined categories and methods

6 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Typology of writings in management, cont’d: technical works – methods, techniques without deeper theoretical insights “airport literature”, „managerial preaching”, usually with careless applications of concepts (no definitions, and/or broadly defined categories), „slogans”, „buzzwords”

7 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Main challenges: Confusion of approaches Post-modernism vs. ignorance

8 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Advantages of postmodernist approach in management theory: - Inter-subjectivity -Reflexivity, recursion -The role of „discourse”

9 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Post-modernism vs. ignorance: The Sokal Hoax Abuses of scientific terminology: -Imprecise use of analogies and metaphors -Quasi-technical language -Manipulation of phrases and sentences („intoxication with words”) -Intimidation of readers with a „technical” terminology

10 Do We Know What We Do Not Know? Post-modernism vs. ignorance: The Sokal Hoax, cont’d However: Numerous specialists in science, biology and engineering apply a kind of „mirror” approach when dealing with social issues („quantum politics”, stability, turbulence in management and in international security, financial stability)

11 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Main areas of abuses of systems thinking in management theory and practice -Chaos and complexity -Catastrophe theory -Turbulence -Learning organization, knowledge management

12 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Chaos and complexity - definition of complexity, ca. 40 attempts -abuse and/or misunderstanding of metaphors and analogies - reification of organization

13 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management What is information? What is knowledge? DIFFICULTIES WITH CLASSICAL DEFINITIONS OF KNOWLEDGE (DEFINIENDUM, DEFINIENS) SEVERAL DEFINITIONS OF INFORMATION

14 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management What are the mechanisms of individual learning? What are the mechanisms of collective learning? NO CLASSICAL DEFINITIONS (DEFINIENDUM, DEFINIENS)

15 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management Broad meaning of the terms and reflexivity make the discourse (communication) either very sophisticated, or on contrary, simplified and trivialized Ineffective communication

16 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management Paradoxes of performative utterances („acts of speech”) Multi-layered self-reference (reflexivity, self- reflexivity and recursion) Multi-level knowledge

17 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management Two methods of improvement of dicourse on learning organization: -individualist-cognitive approach -structural approach

18 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management 1. Individualist-cognitive approach -Enhancing studies on cognitive mechanisms and their applications in identification of learning by individuals in organizations (advanced agent-based modelling with cognitive mechanisms) -Identification of learning mechanisms in organizations -Synthesis of both methods

19 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management 2. Structural approach: -Identification of organizational mechanism facilitating the processess of individual learning -Development of methods of measurement of intangible attributes of organization ( a compromise between objectivity and reification of definition of knowledge in individual and collective sense)

20 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management Heuristic value of abuses? What to do if there is a demand by practitioners, for low intellectual quality ideas applied as a heuristic inspiration in training, e.g. company as bicycle?

21 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management Consolation: The same problems in other, rationalist, technical fields: Finance: financial (system) stability, „healthy financial systems” (no definitions, abuses of the term system but applied in policy making!!!), e.g. Financial Stability Forum

22 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management Question: Will the future of discourse in management theory and practice be dominated by even „softer” issues: healthy organizations, telling tales, spirituality, etc.?

23 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management CONCLUSIONS: 1.Management theory and policy is currently strongly influenced by „rational” post-modernism and „abusive” and „ignorant” quasi-post- modernism 2.Rigorous research and policy in management must take into account those new phenomena 3.In some cases „ignorant” discourse may be accepted as a heuristic instrument for practitioners

24 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Learning organization, knowledge management CONCLUSIONS, cont’d: 4.Management theorists must be aware that of the discourse on learning organization, organizational knowledge, etc are especially prone for abuses by „ignorant” post-modernism. 5.Development of cognitive approaches, is the main challenge contemporary management theory is facing. Subsequenly, there emerges necessity to study reflexivity, self-reflexivity self-reference and recursion as well as their consequences for methodology, not only of management, but of all social sciences.

25 4th Metaphorum Conference, St. Gallen, 9-10 March 2007 Thank You for Your Attention! Any questions, please!


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