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Philosophy of Management

Volume 3, Issue 3, 2003

What is Management

Andrew Atherton
Pages 55-66

Saying What You Mean and Meaning What You Say
Relating Cognition and Voice in Business

This paper examines the dynamics of thought-language interactions within the organisational context of business. Based on an assessment of the cognition-voice debate within the cognitive sciences and related areas of philosophical enquiry, the paper proposes that thought and language are distinct systems. This notion of modularity is developed into a framework within which the two systems interact and, in doing so, influence and shape each other. These interactions form multiple thought and voiced drafts, reflecting the ‘multiple drafts’ model developed by Daniel Dennett to examine the phenomenon of consciousness. The drafting and re-drafting of thought and language are analysed via critical consideration of two transcripts of interviews with owner-managers. The overall theoretical approach suggests that the dynamics of voice-cognition drafting offer insights into: the development of expert cognitive frameworks; patterns in group development - in particular the emergence of shared values and concepts within the business; and processes of experiential learning within organizations.

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