In this paper, I build on Wittgenstein’s metaphor of a toolbox to introduce the metaphor of ‘tool confusion’ – how differing conceptual constructs may be applied, or misapplied, to one another and the effect that such applications have on the advancement of management theory. Moving beyond metaphor, I investigate a theory of management through two specific philosophical lenses (Popper and Lyotard). This analysis tests both the theory and the philosophies with regard to how each philosophy may be applied as a (...) tool to advance theory towards more effective application. Preliminary conclusions confirm that the application of partial philosophies is not as useful as the application of complete philosophies. Deeper contemplation, however, suggests that there is no upper limit to the completeness of philosophies. Thus, the problem of completeness is inescapable. In place of completeness, I explore the use of perceptual tools that are more specific, foundational and concise. Engaging in a second investigation, I use structures of logic (circular, linear, branching and co-causal) to investigate the subject theory. This investigation suggests at least two important insights relating to the structure of theory and the fuzziness of theory. Combined, these investigations and related conversations suggest rigorous methods for advancing theories and a more normative role for the philosophy of management that will support the accelerated advancement of management theory and practice. (shrink)
Why do policies fail? How can we objectively choose the best policy from two (or more) competing alternatives? How can we create better policies? To answer these critical questions this book presents an innovative yet workable approach. Avoiding Policy Failure uses emerging metapolicy methodologies in case studies that compare successful policies with ones that have failed. Those studies investigate the systemic nature of each policy text to gain new insights into why policies fail. -/- In addition to providing intriguing directions (...) for research, this book also suggests a bold new standard for evaluating policies. While this method is broadly generalizable, specific examples are provided showing how to develop better Economic Policy, Military Policy, and Constitutional Organizations. This book shows scholars, researchers, and policy analysts how to develop more effective policies so that we may achieve our highest aspirations and avoid the horrendous failures of the past. (shrink)
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the internal structure of Gandhi's ethics as a way to determine opportunities for improving that system's ability to influence behavior. In this paper, the author aims to work under the idea that a system of ethics is a guide for social responsibility. -/- Design/methodology/approach – The data source is Gandhi's set of ethics as described by Naess. These simple (primarily quantitative) studies compare the concepts within the code of ethics, and (...) their relationships to one another. -/- Findings – Gandhi's ethics are robust at the 0.25 level (the scale is zero to one – zero is lowest). This is consistent with theories of the social sciences (that do not work well in practice). Gandhi's success might be ascribed to his leadership ability. -/- Research limitations/implications – Some suggest this approach is reductionist because of its superficial similarity to approaches of physical science. The implications for research are profound. First, this approach provides an objective method for comparing (and so, advancing) systems of ethics. Second, this paper suggests the opportunity to compare the internal structure of ethics with “external” aspects – the implementation of ethical systems. -/- Practical implications – By itself, Gandhi's system of ethics cannot be reliably applied in practice - it cannot be expected to change behavior more than any other system of ethics. This raises concerns about other ethical codes as well. The practical implications of the form of analysis presented in this paper are immense because it provides a way for practitioners to objectively compare two codes of ethics and determine which one will be more effective. -/- Originality/value – The approach documented in the paper has never been applied to the field of ethics. It is unique in that it addresses the “internal” structure of a system of ethics (compared to the “external”, or application, of ethical systems). (shrink)
In evaluating a metatheory, it is possible and desirable to use methods found in critical metatheory. In this post, I use such tools to rigorously analyze and quantify the internal logical structure of Wilber's metatheory. The results show that Wilber's metatheory is unlikely to be of much use in practical application and that it has much room for growth and improvement.
In this article, I explore the field of metatheory with two goals. My first goal is to present a clear understanding of what metatheory “is” based on a collection of over twenty definitions of the term. My second goal is to present a preliminary investigation into how metatheory might be understood as a science. From that perspective, I present some strengths and weaknesses of our field and suggest steps to make metatheory more rigorous, more scientific, and so make more of (...) a contribution to the larger community of the social sciences. (shrink)
The current state of the world suggests we have some difficulty in developing effective policy. This paper demonstrates two methods for the objective analysis of logic models within policy documents. By comparing policy models, we will be better able to compare policies and so determine which policy is best. Our ability to develop effective policy is reflected across the social sciences where our ability to create effective theoretical models is being called into question. The broad scope of this issue suggests (...) a source as deep as our unconscious ways of thinking. Specifically, our reliance on modern and postmodern thinking has limited our ability to develop more effective policy, and more particularly, logic models. The move in some quarters toward “integral” thinking may provide insights that support the creation of more useful policy models. However, some versions of that thinking seem to be unwittingly mired in modern and postmodern thinking. This paper identifies how integral thought may be clarified, allowing us to advance beyond postmodern thinking. Usefully, this “neo-integral” form of thinking supports the creation of more mature policy models by encompassing greater complexity and a careful understanding of interrelationships that may be identified within the logic models that are commonly found in policy analyses. Neo-integral thinking is related to more complex forms of systems thinking and both are found in recent conversations within the nascent field of metatheory. And, to some extent, a logic model within a policy operates as a kind of theoretical model because both may be used to inform understanding and decision-making. Therefore, it seems reasonable to apply neo-integral thinking and metatheoretical methodologies to conduct critical comparisons of logic models. In the present paper, these methodologies are applied to critically compare two logic models. The structure of each model is analyzed to objectively determine its complexity and formal robustness. The complexity is determined by quantifying the concepts and connections within each model. The robustness of a model is a measure of its internal integrity, based on the ratio between the total number of aspects and the number of concatenated aspects. In this analysis, one policy model is found to have a robustness of 0.08, while another is found to have a robustness of 0.67. The more robust policy is expected to be much more effective in application. Implications for policy development and policy application are discussed. (shrink)
From a Kuhnian perspective, a paradigmatic revolution in management science will significantly improve our understanding of the business world and show practitioners (including managers and consultants) how to become much more effective. Without an objective measure of revolution, however, the door is open for spurious claims of revolutionary advance. Such claims cause confusion among scholars and practitioners and reduce the legitimacy of university management programs. Metatheoretical methods, based on insights from systems theory, provide new tools for analyzing the structure of (...) theory. Propositional analysis is one such method that may be applied to objectively quantify the formal robustness of management theory. In this chapter, I use propositional analysis to analyze different versions of a theory as it evolves across 1,500 years of history. This analysis shows how the increasing robustness of theory anticipates the arrival of revolution and suggests an innovative and effective way for scholars and practitioners to develop and evaluate theories of management. (shrink)