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Knowing: how we know is as important as what we know

Ian I. Mitroff (University Professor at Alliant International University, San Francisco, CA, USA.)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to show that more than ever than ever, businesses need to understand the nature of different concepts of knowledge and methods for producing them.


Utilizing the philosophy of inquiry, the extreme importance and relevance of applied epistemology (theories of knowledge/inquiry) for business is demonstrated. It introduces and briefly explains five archetypal inquiry systems from Western philosophy. Each system defines “truth” and “knowledge” in completely different ways.


The paper shows the strengths and the limitations of each system for “knowledge”, and especially for doing business in the systems age.


The philosophy of inquiry has been greatly underutilized, even ignored, in schools of business. This paper attempts to correct this.



Mitroff, I.I. (2008), "Knowing: how we know is as important as what we know", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 13-22.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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