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Cogito ergo sum: exploring epistemological options for strategic management

Steven French (Coffs Harbour Centre for Enterprise Development and Research, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 2 January 2009



The purpose of this paper is to argue that the epistemology of the strategic literature is dominated by a Modernist (scientific) and Cybernetic system approach and that other epistemological options especially critical management studies and complex self‐adapting systems, might provide greater insight for strategic thinking.


An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.


The current dominant way of thinking about management is based on closed system notions of causality in which good enough long‐term prediction is possible. The process PLOC depends totally on this foundation. If a system's long‐term behaviour is unpredictable, then using the PLOC model is questionable. In the current turbulent business environment long‐term prediction may not be possible.

Practical implications

The life expectancy of a firm is only 40 years. Using closed system concepts to drive businesses to the equilibrium of a business plan may be killing the business, because a complex self‐adapting system in equilibrium is dead.


Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm. This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.



French, S. (2009), "Cogito ergo sum: exploring epistemological options for strategic management", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 18-37.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited