Essay Sample on Critical Management Perspectives on Management Theory Evolution

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1696 Words
Date:  2022-11-20


"A stupidity-based theory of organizations" is a paper published by Alvesson and Spicer (2012) in the Journal of Management studies, in an audacious attempt to introduce a new concept into academic discourse and public debate on the concept of 'functionality stupidity.' The authors suggest that elements of stupidity management in the economy of persuasion then involve encouragement not to think about what works, but instead normalizing imitations, fashion-following, and conformism, as well as celebrating grandiosity as a general virtue". (Alvesson, 2013:219). The authors have to a large extent been successful in the introduction of the new concept of functionality management and stupidity management into academic and public debate. This is evident from the fact that the concept has been taken up by organizational researchers. Besides, the concept has also gained widespread coverage in the international business press. The concept has even been officially adopted as a new word within the Swedish language in Sweden where one of the authors is based. The term and concept have gone on to inspire an enormous stage play in the country. In line with these developments and impacts, one might be consoled that academic research is having a broader impact beyond the university-based business school, especially from such well-known proponents of critical management studies. A fact is that critical scholarship has successfully impacted Critical Management Studies (CSM) widely.

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Though the idea of functional stupidity is presented as an academic concept, it is essential also to consider that the concept veers worryingly towards a management buzzword. According to Collins (2000), a concept in organization studies should contribute to the analysis of management as a complex and contested phenomenon. On the other hand, a management buzzword serves to stymie debate by propagating a 'vocabulary of managerialism (Collins 2000:13). The concept of functionality stupidity as presented by Alvesson (2012) can be viewed as a practitioner-oriented catchphrase and an exciting concept for use in critical management research at the same time. Therefore, functional stupidity appeals to two different and mutually exclusive constituencies. Researchers in this school of thought argue that critical management studies should gently reform managerial hegemony in organizations as opposed to seeking to challenge managerial hegemony in organizations fundamentally. Fournier and Grey (2000) argue that the ethos of non-performativity of organizations should be considered as a defining principle of critical management studies. If we wish to acknowledge this school of thought by Fournier and Grey (2000), then efforts must be made to guard against producing research that blurs the difference that exists between a corporate slogan and academic concept. Alvesson and Spicer in their arguments end up presenting a management buzzword as a piece of critical scholarship. This presents an opportunity for further research based on highly questionable foundations.

This critical analysis takes a cue from the 'practical criticism' approach which was developed by F.R Leavis in literary studies (Armstrong and Lilley 2008). The practical criticism concept involves "a denial that great literature constituted an ineffable mystery, only to be approached in a spirit of reverential awe" (Armstrong and Lilley 2008). Practical criticism to this extent turns to the text itself for justifications of literary greatness. Practical criticism is both a debunking and an evaluative exercise in the sense that it also seeks to unmask literature that announces nothing but its genius but which can do so only in derivation and cliche because of that very fixation. When applied to social sciences, the concept of practical criticism appeals to the qualities of a specific text as opposed to the dubious benchmarks of journal rankings or worse, professional standing. In practical criticism, exercises are thus all the more necessary for icons of authority which includes articles by renowned scholars those published in highly ranked journals. It is in this spirit, i.e. practical criticism, that this essay seeks to critically analyze the statement "Elements of stupidity management in the economy of persuasion then involve encouragement not to think about what really works, but instead normalizing imitations, fashion-following and conformism, as well as celebrating grandiosity as a general virtue" (Alvesson, 2013:219) as presented in the article "A stupidity-based theory of organizations" published in the Journal of Management Studies. The essay will first summarize the idea of functional stupidity as presented by Alvesson and Spicer, analyze the positive and negatives effects in organizations and conclude by reflecting on the implications of the functional stupidity concept.

Stupidity management field of study has been a subject of research by many management scholars whereby a high amount of information, data, competence, wisdom, resources, capabilities, talent, and learning in organizations has emerged in recent decades, within which there's a standard assumption of 'smartness.' Though this term has not been used consistently within the study of organizations, it captures the underlying premise that an important issue for modern organizations is their ability showing the intelligence to mobilize psychological feature capacities. The phenomenon of stupidity management occurs whenever actors in positions of influence attempt to discourage critical reflection that calls into question organizationally sanctioned norms and values (Alvesson and Spicer 2012:1202). This assumption is obvious in claims that 'as the pace of amendment will increase, information development among the members of the corporation becomes the key to fight, to remain within the battlefront. Some authors argue that 'workers' psychological feature and social capabilities are components of the forces of production and, over the long run and in broad combination, the pressure of competition forces corporations and societies to upgrade those capabilities, the event of laissez-faire economy so tends to form a class that's more and more sophisticated' (Adler 2002, p. 392). Similarly, two management gurus (Davenport and Prusak 1998, p. 88) have instructed that the first effective approach for corporations to stay competitive is to 'hire sensible folks and allow them to check with one another.'

These broad claims are reflected in one in each of the central leitmotifs of latest organization theory: corporations thrive on the idea of their information (Grant 1996). Data is rarely clearly outlined, however, is taken into account 'the most strategically necessary of the firm's resources' (Grant 1996, p. 110) associated 'the central competitive dimension of what corporations know the way to try and do is to form and transfer information with efficiency among a structured context' (Kogut and Zander 1992, p. 384). Researchers take it without any consideration that 'the foundation of business economies has shifted from natural resources to intellectual assets' (Hansen et al. 1999, p. 106) which 'many sectors are animated by new social science, wherever the payoff to managing information sagaciously has been dramatically amplified' (Teece 1998, p. 55). For some, a 'new paradigm' of management has appeared which implies 'tacit and native information of all members of the organization is that the most significant consider success, and power creates its own prerogative' (Clegg et al. 1996, p. 205). Underpinning all this can be the idea that the quick mobilization of psychological feature capacities is central to the operation of (successful) organizations. There are after all in progress controversies and propaganda concerning what specifically constitutes information in modern organizations (Blackler, 1995). Even so, the concept that valuable, rare and irreproducible information is critical to structure performance encompasses a robust rhetorical price. Rather than partaking in these debates concerning what information 'is,' we wish to question the idea during this field that refined thinking and use of advanced information may be a core characteristic of the many modern organizations. We predict this 'broader set of assumptions... shared by many completely different schools' (Alvesson and Sandberg, 2011, p. 225) must be challenged. It creates a one-sided, widely-shared, and instead a professional portrait of the sensible, knowledge-based firm and its workers. This image could also be appealing; however, it misses, however, effective structure functioning calls conjointly for qualities that don't merely match with the concept of smartness.

There's an enormous body of labor on non-rationality in organizations that remind the US of the constraints to the quick mobilization of psychological feature capacities. Some researchers document however mental feature limitations result in practices that might be labeled 'semi-rational' (Brunsson, 1985; March and Simon, 1958). Others highlight new sever kinds of unreason kinds that are made by unconscious components, group-think, and rigid adherence to fantasy (Schwartz, 1990; Wagner, 2002). In our read, these studies miss a group of deviations from smartness, which is neither semi-rational nor strictly stupid. To capture these processes, we tend to propose the idea of stubborn stupidity.

Purposeful stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive reasoning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a slender and 'safe' piece of ground (Ballet et al. 2007). It will offer a way of certainty that permits organizations to perform swimmingly. This may save the organization and its members from the frictions aggravated by doubt and reflection. Purposeful stupidity contributes to maintaining and strengthening structure order. It may also inspire folks, facilitate them to cultivate their careers, and subordinate them to socially acceptable kinds of management and leadership. Such positive outcomes will any reinforce purposeful stupidity. However, persistent stupidity may also have negative consequences like housing people and organizations into problematic patterns of thinking that engender the conditions for individual and structure dissonance (Fournier and Grey 2000). These negative outcomes might prompt individual and collective reflexivity in an exceedingly approach which will undermine purposeful stupidity.

By advancing the idea of purposeful stupidity, we tend to create 3, overlapping contributions. First, we tend to disturb a standard field assumption that modern organizations operate chiefly through the mobilization of psychological feature capacities (Grant, 1996; Spender, 1996). We tend to do that by saying however the denial of psychological feature capabilities will truly facilitate structure functioning. Second, we have a tendency to obtain to increase existing accounts of the boundaries to rationality and thoughtfulness in organizations (Ashforth and deep-fried, 1988; Cohen et al., 1972; March, 1996; March and Simon, 1958), by providing an idea that permits US to account for the way the utilization of psychological feature capacities could also be restricted by relations of power and domination instead of a scarcity of your time or resources, or psychological feature fixations. Finally, we tend to propose an idea, and theoretical clarification for what we predict may be a pervasive, however, for the most part, unacknowledged side of structure life. We anticipate that the term 'functional stupidity' may be reminiscent and resonate with the experiences of researchers, practitioners, citizens, and shoppers. Thus, ou...

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