Philippe Baumard Professor, University Paul Cézanne Visiting Professor, Stanford University pbaumard@stanford.edu  Researc...
<ul><li>A Working Paper that changed the way I saw the world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In 1990, just before I began my PhD, a ...
<ul><li>Organization theory focuses on power, and had long been doing so </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From the Mesopotamian « Ark...
Episteme Techne Phronesis Mètis Abstract generalization Know-how Practical wisdom Oblique and conjectural learning Status ...
Episteme Techne Phronesis Mètis Abstract generalization Know-how Practical wisdom Oblique and conjectural learning Status ...
<ul><li>From Jim March’s « organizational learning » to Ikujiro Nonaka’s phronesis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizations eng...
<ul><li>Organizational knowledge is a constant flow of transitions between the  tacit  (soft) and the  explicit  (hard), t...
<ul><li>Organizational practices tend to fit the mythological tradition of organizational theory (Baumard & Starbuck, 2009...
<ul><li>Mètis  is re-surging, and it is not for the common good </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facing a forthcoming climate change ...
 
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Homage to Nonaka: A journey in knowledge and wisdom

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A presentation at HEC in honor of Professor Ikujiro Nonaka: Jouy en Josas, 23 oct. 2009 « From Aristotle’s Phronesis to Ikujiro Nonaka’s Tacit Knowledge : A Journey in Organizational Wisdom », Research Workshop on Knowledge and Management, HEC.

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Homage to Nonaka: A journey in knowledge and wisdom

  1. 1. Philippe Baumard Professor, University Paul Cézanne Visiting Professor, Stanford University pbaumard@stanford.edu Research Workshop on Knowledge and Innovation In Honor of Professor Ikujiro Nonaka HEC – Jouy-en-Josas – October 23rd 2009
  2. 2. <ul><li>A Working Paper that changed the way I saw the world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In 1990, just before I began my PhD, a friend sent me a working paper from Ikujiro Nonaka  entitled: «  Managing innovation as a knowledge creation process » </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>That day, I started to see my surroundings differently! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>And it all suddenly made sense </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human organizations were from now on « knowledge-creating » entities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When Democritus explained that « randomness » and « necessity » belonged to a same continuum, which key and link was phronesis, it made sense </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When Heraclitus stated that « everything changes faster », that it is better to understand human organizing as an endless and constant flow, that one cannot step twice in the same river, it made sense. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aristotle suggested that wisdom was the product of social and collective learning. He called this form of wisdom, phronesis , and suddenly it made a whole new sense. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Organization theory focuses on power, and had long been doing so </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From the Mesopotamian « Ark and Flood » (2900 BC) to early XX th Century, the most conspicuous property of the oldest writings is their emphasis on superior-subordinate relations (Rindova and Starbuck, 1997) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And so most organizational theory writings kept on helping leaders to make sure they will be properly obeyed, renewing the myths to adapt them to contemporary settings (Baumard and Starbuck, 2009). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focusing on knowledge, instead of superior-subordinate relations (as a means of theorizing organizations) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s implying that organizational learning is not a routine that improves, revises and maintains structures and hierarchies, but the “structuring” itself. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is what Greek philosophers were trying to achieve, when making disctinctions between episteme, techne, phronesis and mètis (Détienne and Vernant, 1974). </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Episteme Techne Phronesis Mètis Abstract generalization Know-how Practical wisdom Oblique and conjectural learning Status Substance Accumulation Social learning Transitory Scope Universality Systems Persons Situation Goal Truth / Science Structure Wisdom Result Means Idealization Observation Socialization Short-cuts Preservation Representation Practice Collective Identity Nonaka (1995) MATRIX From all forms into explicit and collective Tacit learning from replicating practice (TK-TK) Assimilated and emerging from collective tacit knowledge (CTK) Individual tacit learning that take « oblique » routes in the explicit of the CTK
  5. 5. Episteme Techne Phronesis Mètis Abstract generalization Know-how Practical wisdom Oblique and conjectural learning Status Substance Accumulation Social learning Transitory Scope Universality Systems Persons Situation Goal Truth / Science Structure Wisdom Result Means Idealization Observation Socialization Short-cuts Preservation Representation Practice Collective Identity Nonaka (1995) MATRIX From all forms into explicit and collective Tacit learning from replicating practice (TK-TK) Assimilated and emerging from collective tacit knowledge (CTK) Individual tacit learning that take « oblique » routes in the explicit of the CTK
  6. 6. <ul><li>From Jim March’s « organizational learning » to Ikujiro Nonaka’s phronesis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizations engage in revisions of their learning (Cyert & March, 1963) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But humans in organizations are « practical animals », they invent problems that fit existing solutions, generate actions that fit ideologies, bend ideologies to fit on-going actions and deeds (Starbuck, 1983) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They belong to a flow (Heraclitus) and cannot just « pause » for a revision (Rosset, 1977) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fortunately, humans  know more than they can tell  (Polanyi, 1967) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If wisdom ( sophia ) is absolute, practical wisdom ( phronesis ) feeds on implicit learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>« We bend reality or what we believe of reality, and we try to fail it, maybe we’ll learn what reality is » </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizations are permanent flows of inequally « distributed practical wisdom » (Nonaka and Toyama, 2007) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Organizational knowledge is a constant flow of transitions between the tacit (soft) and the explicit (hard), the codified (objectified) and the uncodified (oblique, action-generated) </li></ul><ul><li>Phronesis is what articulates, through social interactions, the acuracy of contextual judgement, « what we know about », and « what we know is the right thing to do ». </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Organizational practices tend to fit the mythological tradition of organizational theory (Baumard & Starbuck, 2009: 41-45) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Early authors such as Taylor, Weber, Fayol, and Urwick either strove to sustain the control of ruling elites or applauded the worthiness of current institutions and behaviors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizations themselves fit the definition of a myth, a poetic concept that wraps fictional unity around a very diverse assortment of ideas and people. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Organizations feed themselves with façades of rationality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Façades of progressive techniques (Abrahamson, 1996), external pressures for façade of efficiency and innovation (Baumard & Abrahamson, 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>While organizations actively seek top managers with “phronesis” skills, they advertise otherwise </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Mètis is re-surging, and it is not for the common good </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Facing a forthcoming climate change disaster, the Arctic crust thinning is seen as an opportunity to open new martime routes* ( the Independent,Sept. 12, 09) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Financial governance and sustainability instead of developing a shared and distributed « practical wisdom » is heading towards a definite separation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The more knowledge we accumulate as a society, the least willing we are to discuss the distribution of wisdom for its governance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>And that is quite a similar situation to the end of the Greek civilization </li></ul></ul>* http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/a-triumph-for-man-a-disaster-for-mankind-1786128.html

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