The interactional model: An alternative to the direct cause and effect construct for mutually causal organizational phenomena [Book Review]

Foundations of Science 8 (3):295-314 (2003)
Abstract
It is time that we in organization sciencesdevelop and implement a new mental model forcause and effect relationships. The dominantmodel in research dates at least to the 1700sand no longer serves the full purposes of thesocial science research problems of the21st century. Traditionally, research is``essentially concerned with two-variableproblems, linear causal trains, one cause andone effect, or with few variables at the most''(von Bertalanffy, 1968, p. 12). However, theliterature is replete with examples ofphenomena in which the traditional cause andeffect construct does not allow for greaterunderstanding and insight into the phenomena. Different conceptions of cause and effectrelationships have been developed includingproducer/product relationships (Ackoff 1981),design causality (Argyris and Schon, 1996), andfour classes of causal models (Schwartz andOgilvy, 1979). Of interest here is thepossibility of mutual causality, ``theassumption that the relationship between two(or more) phenomena is heavily influenced bythe presence of feedback loops that areinstantaneous, or nearly so'' (Dent, 1999). Maturana's (1998, Maturana and Varela, 1987)work on a new epistemology and ontologyprovides a foundation for the alternative modelof cause and effect proposed here. Thisinteraction model includes the dynamics of thetraditional X and Y, but adds the structure ofX (A), the structure of Y (B), the environment(E), and time (T).
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