Avoiding Epistemological Myopia

Avoiding Epistemological Myopia

Robert M. Mason (Florida State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-309-8.ch009
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Organizational approaches to knowledge management are unlikely to lead to organizational wisdom unless the organization increases its awareness of factors that contribute to epistemological myopia—a nearsightedness that limits what and how the organization knows and how it learns. Contributors to this myopia include organizational learning pathologies, an unquestioning acceptance of fundamental concepts, such as time, and measuring success as the absence of failure. In many instances, the vocabulary, language, and business methods used by an organization, society, or culture reify these pathological factors and thereby further hamper the potential for learning. By raising our awareness of these contributors and the factors that support their reification and continued acceptance, we seek either to avoid these limitations or to develop corrective lenses that can extend the organization’s vision and enable it to resolve issues with greater clarity. The conceptual frameworks used in this chapter are drawn from four distinct areas of study: systems theory, organizational knowledge and learning, the organization as a learning community and community of practice, and linguistic relativity. The underlying theme is the organization as an inquiring system—a system that seeks to learn and become more knowledgeable. Because learning processes are culturally biased, and the bias is reinforced by a culture’s values, language, and vocabulary, the premise is that these biases and values constrain the organization’s epistemological methods and processes. The potential solutions to epistemological myopia include deliberate nurturing of cultural diversity, the institutionalization of Singerian approaches to inquiry, and the fostering of managed risk in experiments that do not guarantee success. While few organizations exhibit all of these desirable characteristics, there are some examples from the literature and practice that provide confidence that organizations can avoid epistemological myopia.

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Table of Contents
Richard O. Mason, Ian Mitroff
James Courtney, John D. Haynes, David Paradice
James Courtney, John D. Haynes, David Paradice
Chapter 1
Dianne J. Hall, David Croasdell
This chapter describes each of Churchman’s inquirers as a process and how each can be perceived as an organizational form. By combining the forms... Sample PDF
Inquiring Organizations: An Organizational Form Perspective
Chapter 2
Bongsug Chae, James F. Courtney, John D. Haynes
This chapter demonstrates how Hegelian inquiring systems may be applied to wicked problem situations and knowledge work and how Hegelian inquiring... Sample PDF
Information Technology and Hegelian Inquiring Organizations
Chapter 3
Alice Kienholz
In this chapter, Singerian inquiring organizations are further developed as the most appropriate type of inquiring organization for moving from... Sample PDF
The Design and Evolution of Singerian Inquiring Organizations: Inspiring Leadership for Wise Action
Chapter 4
Ahmed Y. Mahfouz, David B. Paradice
Kantian inquiring systems can be used as a model for learning organizations. Based on Churchman’s (1971) inquiring systems and Courtney, Croasdell... Sample PDF
Kantian Inquiring Systems: A Case Study
Chapter 5
Sharman Lichtenstein, Craig M. Parker, Margaret Cybulski
The real promise of organizational communication technologies may lie in their potential to facilitate participative discourse between knowledge... Sample PDF
Email and Knowledge Creation: Supporting Inquiring Systems
Chapter 6
Dianne J. Hall, Yi Guo
This chapter examines the issue of technological support for inquiring organizations and suggests that the complexity of these organizations is best... Sample PDF
Supporting the Complexity of Inquiring Organizations: An Agent Approach
Chapter 7
John D. Murray, Thomas L. Case, Adrian B. Gardiner
Churchman (1971) emphasized the continual learning nature of organizations as part of their ontological fabric. Accordingly, he proffered the view... Sample PDF
Knowledge Creation in Inquiring Organizations using KDD: Re-Focusing Research on the Analyst
Chapter 8
Martina S. Lundin, Morten T. Vendelo
One of the oldest themes in information systems (IS) research concerns the relationship between developers and users of information systems. Over... Sample PDF
Using Inquiring Practice and Uncovering Exformation for Information Systems Development
Chapter 9
Robert M. Mason
Organizational approaches to knowledge management are unlikely to lead to organizational wisdom unless the organization increases its awareness of... Sample PDF
Avoiding Epistemological Myopia
Chapter 10
John D. Haynes
C. West Churchman’s five inquiring systems are considered in the light of Polanyi’s distinction between tacit knowing and practical thinking. It is... Sample PDF
Inquiring Organizations and the Wisdom of Tacit Knowledge for a Heideggerian Inquiring System: The Sixth Sense
Chapter 11
Kay Fielden
In this chapter, mindfulness as an essential quality of integrated wisdom within inquiring organizations is discussed. A holistic, rather than a... Sample PDF
Mindfulness: An Essential Quality of Integrated Wisdom
Chapter 12
Wise Organizations?  (pages 229-271)
Chauncey Bell
This chapter explores the ways that wisdom and wise action appear in the work of organizations and asks how systems can be designed to support that.... Sample PDF
Wise Organizations?
Chapter 13
Nilmini Wickramasinghe
In today’s knowledge-based economy, sustainable strategic advantages are gained more from an organization’s knowledge assets than from its more... Sample PDF
The Phenomenon of Duality: A Key to Facilitate the Transition From Knowledge Management to Wisdom for Inquiring Organizations
Chapter 14
Michael H. Dickey, David B. Paradice
This chapter introduces cultural hermeneutics as a lens for understanding philosophies of inquiry in distributed work groups. The authors suggest... Sample PDF
Understanding Organizational Philosophies of Inquiry Through Hermeneutic Analysis of Organizational Texts
Chapter 15
Leoni Warne, Helen Hasan, Irena Ali
This chapter reports on the finding of the research into social learning at the Australian Defence Organization (ADO). The research aim was to... Sample PDF
Transforming Organizational Culture to the Ideal Inquiring Organization: Hopes and Hurdles
Chapter 16
Haim Kilov, Ira Sack
This chapter shows how crucial aspects of organizational knowledge and organizational inquiry can be exactified using a relatively small number of... Sample PDF
Exploiting Reusable Abstractions in Organizational Inquiry: Why Reinvent Square Wheels?
About the Authors