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Philosophy of Management

Volume 6, Issue 3, 2008
Thought Experiments

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1. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Editorial: Thought Experiments
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2. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Paul Griseri What Do We Know about Organisations? A Socratic Dialogue
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3. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Frits Schipper A Philosophical Reading of a Classic of Management and Organisation: F W Taylor
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Although Taylor’s scientific management is often severely criticised, his publications are seldom the subject of scrutinised, philosophical, reading. The latter is the aim of the present text. Attention is given to the idea of science, the role of extra-scientific values, the relationship of theory and practice, the societal meaning of management, presenting demarcations, presuppositions and unclarities. The conclusion notes several topics, implied by Taylor’s views and still worth reflecting upon. One example is efficiency as a seemingly context-independent concept.
4. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Markus Scholz, Thomas A. C. Reydon The Population Ecology Programme in Organisation Studies: Problems Caused by Unwarranted Theory Transfer
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Economics and social sciences in general have a long tradition of using theories, models, concepts, and so forth borrowed from the natural sciences to describe and explain the properties and behaviours of economic and social entities. However, unwarranted application of theoretical elements from the natural sciences in the economic/social domain can have adverse consequences for organisations, their employees and society in general. Focusing on biology and organisation studies, we discuss the general problems that may arise when theoretical elements from natural science are applied in the economic/social domain. We examine one particular case, the organisational ecology research programme, and we argue that organisational ecology rests on the metaphorical, rather than literal, use of the notion of evolution. We conclude by showing how the use of the evolutionary metaphor in organisation theory can have adverse consequences for both managerial practice and society in general.
5. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Petia Sice, Erik Mosekilde, Ian French Systems Language and Organisational Discourse: The Contribution of Generative Dialogue
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Any approach to the study of managerial situations undertaken without reflection on the underpinning philosophy is flawed because it limits our ability to question the validity of the knowledge claimed in the analysis. The paper considers this issue and presents a philosophical reflection on the use of a systems approach to the modelling of human enterprises. It draws on insights from systems thinking, cognitive science, autopoiesis, communication theory and non-linear dynamics. These are interpreted within the context of social systems as networks of conversations that are generated in language. It is written to invite an exchange of ideas concerning the role of the generative dialogue.
6. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Kazem Chaharbaghi The Limits of Rationality: Restoring Reason to Management
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Organisations are socially constructed in that their members are socialised in a world of language that enables them to understand, communicate and share. They use language to create patterns that help them make choices and relate their actions to the patterns they create and the choices they make. The world of organisations and their management is, therefore, a matter of language. In this world, rationality plays a fundamental role in legitimising choices together with the actions that express them. This study suggests that the limited expressive resources of a dominant version of rationality limit the world of management in a way that undermines its legitimacy and that it is possible for management to break free from this limited world by learning to think in other languages that express contrasting versions of rationality.
7. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Emma Rooksby, Natasha Cica Managing Electronic Workplace Surveillance to Respect Employee Autonomy
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Electronic surveillance of employees in the workplace presents both opportunities and risks to contemporary managers. Some of the moral risks associated with electronic workplace surveillance are well-known and discussed in the literature. A lesser-known risk, which is explored and addressed in this article, is the threat that electronic surveillance poses, when used inappropriately, to employees’ personal autonomy. This article elaborates the concept of personal autonomy, illustrates how electronic workplace surveillance might be used to violate personal autonomy, and suggests some management strategies that could be used to avoid such violations.
8. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Hans Muller Varieties of Shame: An Issue for Workplace Harassment Policy
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This paper takes seriously the idea that one person in a workplace could cause a co-worker to feel ashamed without realising it. This is because the most widely accepted conception of shame does not adequately explain the eliciting conditions of that emotion. I begin by setting out what I take to be the most common account of shame. Next, I note what predictions we would make about which situations will elicit shame in a subject were we to embrace that conception. I then show that these predictions are actually false in three cases out of four. A second analysis of shame is proposed as an alternative that makes better predictions about when shame will be elicited than the first account, and can explain more of the relevant phenomena even when the two accounts of shame make thesame prediction about whether the emotion will be elicited in a given scenario. I close with a practical discussion of how this new conception of shame should inform workplace managers who encounter situations in which one worker feels harassed by a colleague and the accused does not understand why her actions made the other worker feel the way they did.
9. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Han van Diest, Ben Dankbaar Managing Freely Acting People: Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Action and Modern Management and Organisation Theory
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This article offers an interpretation of theories of management and organisation from the perspective of Hannah Arendt’s theory of free action. This endeavour will contribute to criticism and eventually improvement of the conceptual framework of management and organisation theory. We discuss conceptual tensions in this field, for instance with respect to the relationship between human action and the constraints of an organisation. To the extent that management and organisation theory are practice-oriented, such an analysis can help to understand tensions and ambiguities in practice. Some of the optimism and high hopes found in the literature may have to be tempered as a consequence of a more adequate analysis of free action. The analysis therefore provides a critical point of view on the problems of managing freely acting people.
10. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Michael Hanik Bridging the Gap: Towards a Philosophically Inspired Theory of Knowledge Management
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Despite their common core concept, philosophy and knowledge management (KM) have not yet found a mutually inspiring base. Theories of KM cite philosophical works, more or less adequately, while philosophy tends to ignore theories of KM. This article draws the sketch of a possible common basis forfuture developments in the direction of a philosophically inspired theory of knowledge management. Starting with the development of a concept of knowledge that is the base of the common understanding, the critical review of knowledge management theories reveals conceptual flaws and the need for useful criteria to support successful KM.
11. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Martyna Sliwa Mapping and Measuring Service Quality: The Implications of Henri Bergson’s Philosophy
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This paper discusses the potential contribution of Henri Bergson’s philosophy to the theory and practice of service quality measurement. First, it summarises some of the theoretical developments within the field of service quality measurement and points to areas of controversy found within the extant publications. Then, it proposes that a greater appreciation of philosophy, in particular the writings of Henri Bergson, can help address the apparent inconsistencies and gaps observed in the literature. Finally, the paper offers suggestions regarding the potential implications of Bergson’s philosophy for the measurement of service quality in contemporary organisations.
12. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Jana Nadoh Bergoc Social Values and Moral Management: A Slovenian Perspective
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Starting from the observation that in morally questionable situations managers tend to act in accordance with a so-called political utilitarianism, this paper seeks to answer the question: why is it important for managers to behave morally? It argues that managers should adopt the deontological notion of self-respect and respect for others as a basic presumption, bearing in mind management’s central role of dealing with people. It is suggested that this is especially so in transition economies. By adopting a deontological perspective, organisations could benefit significantly, although this should not be the primary motivation for acting on this basis.
13. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 3
Verner C. Petersen One Must Know It! A Personal Argument for Self-Regulation and Responsible Entrepreneurship
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‘Isn’t it clear that a man must have the right to warn the majority, to argue with the majority, to fight with the majority if he believes he holds the truth? Before many can know something, one must know it!’ The words are Dr Stockman’s of An Enemy of the People1 and in a competitive market building upon a Smithian self-interest there might seem to be no room for people like him. Whatever the personal attitudes of the owners, managers and employees, they would feel forced to behave in business like all of their competitors. Such is the logic of the basic driving forces in Western societies. It is a logic that necessitates lean and mean production, the substitution of labour with capital, relocation of production to places with low labour costs - also known as social dumping - or to places with lessstringent environmental demands and/or less costly safety regulations.The traditional way to prevent this happening has been to use state intervention and regulation to curb the worst cases. But today many of the traditional harnesses on an unbridled market economy have been removed, such as controls on capital movements, trade across borders or regulation of sectorslike transport, telecommunication, energy, utilities and so on.With this in mind we may ask whether there exists an alternative to state intervention that would contain or change the direction of the logic from within the logic itself. In other words, is it possible for a single or a few entrepreneurs to change the logic in such a way that external regulation is avoided or reduced, while finding answers to the problems and concerns caused by that logic?Of course there is a risk that these answers may consist of just a kind of exploitative riding of the waves of concerns and offering strange, Potemkin-like answers to for instance the clamour for environmental responsibility.Responsible entrepreneurship is something else, though. It consists in understanding genuine concerns and using one’s special knowledge in a certain field, to experiment and develop constantly improving answers to these concerns, giving a concrete form to emerging values, and raising the expectations of all those having these concerns.