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Philosophy of Management

Volume 6, Issue 1, 2007
Transforming Rationalities

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1. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Editorial: Transforming Rationalities
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2. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Willard F. Enteman Managerialism and the Transformation of the Academy
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As we enter the twenty-first century, a new set of unexamined assumptions that may be labelled managerialism is coming to dominate university life. In spite of the changes that have been taking place, semantics have largely remained stable. As a result, there has been little recognition of a need to examine the transformation carefully and critically. This paper seeks to explicate the changes, show how they express a common managerialist philosophy and critically analyze them. It does so by dividing the topics to be discussed into two sections: People and Program. The first section shows how conceptual assumptions in regard to central components of the university have changed. Students are now thought of as consumers, administrators as managers, trustees as directors and faculty as employee stakeholders. These conceptual renderings are consistent with and support a managerialist philosophy. The second section shows how apreviously accepted bright line between education and training has broken down so that what we thought of as education has become little more than ornamentation for what are basically training programs. In addition, the training programs have achieved a semantic victory by persuading us to refer to them aseducation. The program change is fully consonant with the people changes. The academy has become one more instance of the general management philosophy that dominates our societies. We have lost our role as autonomous critics and uncritically become a component of the larger arrangement.
3. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
A Scott Carson Should a For-Profit Corporation Own and Operate a University?
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For-profit universities are degree-granting institutions that are owned and operated by business corporations. This paper addresses two related public policy questions about for-profit universities. First, should governments and appropriate regulatory bodies permit for-profit universities to grant degrees in their jurisdiction? Second, should higher education policy be developed to create for-profit universities? In this paper, a property rights argument is presented to demonstrate that a corporation should have the right to offer degrees if certain regulatory tests can be met. In limited circumstances, governments might consider establishing for-profit universities, but only if they promote public goods.
4. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Philipp Dorstewitz, Shyama Kuruvilla Rationality as Situated Inquiry: A Pragmatist Perspective on Policy and Planning Processes
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Rationality bashing has become a popular sport. Critiques have quite rightly challenged models of rational planning that follow a linear progression from predefined ends to achieved goals. There have been several alternative theoretical and empirical developments including incrementalist projects, networktheories, critical communication approaches, and heuristic models.Notwithstanding critiques of linear models of policy-making and planning, rationality as a general idea remains an important reference point for designing and evaluating policy-making and for orientating planning projects. We suggest that the concept of rationality needs to be revised rather than abandonedand this article discusses how rationality in decision making may be reconstructed.We first review and critique some of the main preconceptions of rationality in policy-making and planning. We then discuss the nature and purpose of rationality from the perspective of John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy and in light of contemporary theoretical and empirical analyses. We position rationality as a procedural standard of excellence that evolves and informs practices in the context of problematic situations. We propose that a theory of rationality, as a guide for planning and policy, should be developed for application in concrete problematic situations and at the same time should play a normative role and be orientated to moral, socio-historical, and ecological considerations. Dewey’s pragmatist theory is a promising source for such considerations.In this article we identify four ‘pillars’ of pragmatism to support such a revised rationality construct: (i) situationality, (ii) normativity, (iii) philosophical via media between foundationalism and relativism, and (iv) democratic inquiry. We discuss the application of a pragmatist rationality, that we refer to as ‘situational transactive’ rationality, using a model of decision making that builds on current understandings in planning and policy science. Finally, we discuss some of the possible advantages and challenges of undertaking such a pragmatist revision of rationality.
5. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Anders Bordum Managing Innovation Potential: Revisiting Plato and Reading John Dewey as a Philosopher of Innovation Management
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In this article I will interpret John Dewey’s account of reflective thinking as if he were a philosopher of innovation management. From his pragmatist starting point, the problems involved in knowledge-processes relevant to innovation are analysed and re-conceptualised. By revisiting Plato and using the Deweyan analysis it identifies some categories of general applicability for understanding, designing and managing radical innovation processes. These categories are useful for conceptualising and talking about innovation, when knowledge is taken seriously, and when managing innovation is also understood as managing the production of new knowledge, that is of making the unjustified justified, and the unknown known.
6. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Marja-Liisa Kakkuri-Knuuttila, Eero Vaara Reconciling Opposites in Organisation Studies: An Aristotelian Approach to Modernism and Post-modernism
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In view of the current fragmentation in management and organisation studies, we argue that there is a need to elaborate techniques that help reconcile contradictory and superficially incommensurable standpoints. For this purpose, we draw on ‘pre-modern’ Aristotelian epistemological and methodologicalsources, particularly the idea of ‘saving the appearances’ (SA), not previously introduced into organisation studies. Using SA as our starting point, we outline a methodology that helps to develop reasonable and acceptable intermediary positions in contemporary debates between ‘modernism’ and ‘post-modernism’. Weillustrate the functioning of SA in the case of three issues in the philosophy of science where ‘modernist’ and ‘post-modernist’ scholars seem to have incommensurable standpoints: the nature of scientific knowledge; the conception of causality; and the epistemology of practice. We show in particular how to use the logics of ‘qualification’, ‘new conception’, and ‘complementary combination’ to form the basis for mediating positions which could then be accepted by less extreme proponents of both ‘modernism’ and ‘postmodernism’.
7. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Michael Williams Is Managerial Intuition Rational? The Case of Long Term Capital Management
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Modelling agency in economics rests primarily on the assumption of instrumental rationality. Managerial agency is more often analysed with a more complex ‘behavioural’ approach. This has led for years to a sterile debate about the usefulness of the abstract rationality postulate between those who think that it is all but sufficient and those who doubt if it is even necessary. This paper argues that positing an abstract (but real) rational core to managerial agency that is then ‘concretised’ towards actual managerial behaviour is the way forward. Rationality is a necessary but not sufficient characterisation of managerial agency. The theoretical argument is supported by reference to the case of the ill-fated Long Term Capital Management built around the Black, Merton and Scholes Nobel Prize-winning derivatives pricing model. It is argued that the 1998 failure of the portfolio was not the result of a failure of rational agency but of the complexities of its implementation.
8. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Axel Seemann Strategy: Rationality, Intuition, and Accountability
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In this paper, I explore the nature of strategic decision making. In particular, I am concerned with the interplay of rational reflection and intuitive insight in strategic contexts. I argue that it is in the very nature of strategic situations that they cannot be exhaustively analysed in terms of the available evidence, and that hence there always is an intuitive element to strategic decision making. I consider a variety of ways to explain the notion of intuition and conclude that intuition and rationality ought not to be conceived as incompatible with one another. It follows, I claim, that the intuitive component of strategic thought allows for at least some degree of public accountability.
9. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Kazem Chaharbaghi, Victor Newman Cruel Comforters: Management Gurus as Outsourced Thinkers
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The influence of popular management gurus derives from two factors: the willingness of their management audience to outsource or subcontract thinking and the ability of gurus to deliver apparently relatively simple messages to an audience that probably does not want or need to think deeply, while retaining their leadership status. As managers look to management gurus to provide them only with reasons to be, to behave or act as opposed to reasons to think, per se, the nature of a popular guru’s output can never address the unseen innovating process which true leadership demands. As a result, popular management gurus are not in a position to promote insights, awakening or higher consciousness in others and cannot fulfil the traditional raison d’être of a guru as an enlightened being. The output of popular management gurus probably communicates more about their audience than it usefully communicates about the guru’s thinking.
10. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Michael L Barnett, Gloria Cahill Measure Less, Succeed More: A Zen Approach to Organisational Balance and Effectiveness
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Over the last decade, managers have increasingly emphasised the creation of tangible measures of intangible organisational properties. Many major corporations now include measures for intellectual capital, knowledge capital, reputational capital, and other such intangible assets on their financial ledgers. Counter to the rubric that ‘If it doesn’t get measured, it doesn’t get done,’ we argue that some intangibles are truly intangible, and attempts to apply tangible measures to them creates undue organisational stress and harms the underlying asset. Instead, managers may better foster the growth of intangible assets by placing less emphasis on outcome measurement and more emphasis on the process. Using New York University’s Office of Community Service as a case study, we illustrate how a Zen approach can augment tangible measures to create a truly ‘balanced’ organisational strategy. American firms have widely adopted the strict measurement practices of Japanese firms, but few have adopted the Eastern practice of Zen. A Zen approach fosters trust and provides flexibility that allows organisations to better achieve success in the long run.
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11. Philosophy of Management: Volume > 6 > Issue: 1
Leigh Hafrey The Consulting Process as Drama: Learning from King Lear
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