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Cogito ergo sum: exploring epistemological options for strategic management

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to argue that the epistemology of the strategic literature is dominated by a Modernist (scientific) and Cybernetic system approach and that other epistemological options especially critical management studies and complex self-adapting systems, might provide greater insight for strategic thinking. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An extensive review of the literature was undertaken. Findings ‐ The current dominant way of thinking about management is based on closed system notions of causality in which good enough long-term prediction is possible. The process PLOC depends totally on this foundation. If a system's long-term behaviour is unpredictable, then using the PLOC model is questionable. In the current turbulent business environment long-term prediction may not be possible. Practical implications ‐ The life expectancy of a firm is only 40 years. Using closed system concepts to drive businesses to the equilibrium of a business plan may be killing the business, because a complex self-adapting system in equilibrium is dead. Originality/value ‐ Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm. This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords: Critical management; Epistemology; Self-adjusting control systems; Strategic management

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02621710910923845

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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