Philosophy of science or knowledge management?

Slawomir Jan Magala (Department of Organisation & Human Resource Management, Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 3 July 2017


Jan Magala, S. (2017), "Philosophy of science or knowledge management?", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 454-455.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

Philosophy of science or knowledge management?

Writing editorials fades away leaving the academic communications ready for a streamlining, high-performance transformation and other managerial innovations in trading ideas, exchanging views and comparing notes. This would leave me no choice, but to forget about the subtleties of names, titles and locations and focus on what matters, what sense can be made of the collection of papers, which had made it to the fourth issue of JOCM in 2017. Well, not quite. Not quite no choice. I made a deliberate choice to see the 11 papers, which we had waiting on the starting line until the publisher’s deadline came, as a reflection of an emergent reality, a reality to be, a shadow government of our professional hearts and minds, an order slowly slouching from chaos and toward a place and time, where it, that is the emergent order (is it a She? He? Us? Them?) can slowly be perceived, evaluated, assessed, compared, recognized, acknowledged and processed in our communications.

The issue opens with a paper on innovativeness and its role in the making and breaking of organizational routines. A philosophical frame of mind could prompt a reader to see “How management innovations are successfully implemented?” (this is the original titles of the paper, followed by a subtitle “An organizational routines’ perspective”) written by Haifen Lin, Mengya Chen and Jingqin Su from Dalian University of Technology (so far the Northest, Northernmost or the most Northern of the Chinese submissions to the present journal). Implementing managerial ideas, especially the innovative ones, clearly demonstrates that knowledge creation, production, implementation and dissemination is a collective project, an organizational joint venture, which requires planning, coordination and legislation (which is represented on an organizational level by routines and their rules). No wonder the following paper takes on “Planning practices: a multiple case study in the high-performing banks.” It has been submitted by Mohammad Sihab Ridwan from the University of August 17, 1945 in Surabaya (located on the Indonesian island of Java). When we plan, implement and evaluate in order to provide feedback, adjust and continue, we require new rules and new routines – new procedures have to be invented, created, detected or made up. This is exactly what the next paper, entitled “Procedural justice as a moderator of the relationship between organizational change intensity and commitment to organizational change” tries to accomplish. It has been written by Kyootai Lee, Monica Sharif, Terri Scandura and Jongweon Kim. The first author is from Seoul, and the last one from Busan, while Monica is from San Francisco State University and Terri is from University of Miami in Coral Gable. From South Korea and Southern USA let us move to the center of the European Union, this time to Poland, in order to follow “Demistifying emergence of organizational routines” by Ewa Stańczyk-Hugiet, Katarzyna Piórkowska and Sylwia Stańczyk from Wrocław University of Economics. The organizational management approach cannot be viewed only from a research position, which could be described as a view from nowhere (or from an HRM nowhere) – hence the following paper on “Innovativeness in the context of technological and market dynamism: the conflicting effects of network density.” It has been submitted by Jon Rodrigo-Alarcón, Pedro Manuel García-Villaverde, Gloria Parra-Requena and María José Ruiz-Ortega. All of them come from the University of Castilla-La Mancha, but while Jon Rodrigo-Alarcón is located on the campus in Cuenca, all the other three co-authors work in Albacete.

Both the Polish and the Spanish submissions are linked to a research project aimed at understanding the entire process of a struggle about routines and an attempt to insert creative projects into the organizational procedures under the influence and pressure from technological windows of opportunity and market gaps. The next paper is devoted to a more concrete issue of hot potatoes and white elephants, namely to “Appropriation process of dirty work: focus on health executives in a medical services restructuring” written by Jennifer Urasadettan and Frank Burellier. Both authors work at the University of Rennes in Bretagne, France and both ask themselves a simple question: what happens, when medical doctors, skillfully using their power position, delegate the dirty work resulting from an organizational change to nurses. They ask: “In a context of organisational change, what is the process that allows individuals to appropriate the dirty work that one tries to delegate to them?”

This question seems to me interesting from many points of view and a decent exposure of the power struggle, but also of the chances to use it as a bargaining chip by those with less power certainly merits empirical attention.

Pedro Ernesto Pereira Paro and Mateus Cecilio Gerolamo from business school from Brazilian University of Sao Paulo write on “Organizational culture for lean programs” demonstrating utility of the competing values framework applied to the diagnosis of an organizational culture – for instance in the case of the lean projects. Examining and diagnosing organizational culture, to which most managers pay lip service as a matter of a PR-advised routine, is actually a challenging task, especially if we really are interesting in a humanist coefficient, which had once troubled Mead, Weber or Znaniecki and is currently returning under the guise of an interpretative turn, humanist turn, linguistic turn, cultural turn or the Anthropocene turn. The next paper, by Rui-Ting Huang, Tsung Piao Chou and Chia-Pin Chen is devoted to the delicate balance of employee expectations and their enhanced contribution to the creative, innovative company. The title is “Examining the roles of shared vision and career growth opportunity in developing new employees” and it focuses on the role of shared vision (which is what organizational culture can either promote or discourage) in regulating, managing the potential of creative inputs. The authors come from the National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan. The next paper also deals with the organizational culture, but focuses on “The relationship between learning culture, inquiry and dialogue, knowledge sharing structure and affective commitment to change” (this title sounds like the latest list of hot items on the way toward organizational change through humanist coefficient and learning). The paper had been written by Parul Malik and Pooja Garg from Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee (the state of Uttarakhand, India).

A less complete list of topics became the starting point of another research project, which had resulted in a submission entitled “Between continuity and change: CSR managers’ occupational rhetoric” by Luca Carollo and Marco Guerci, both from the University of Milano in Italy. Rhetoric earned a new reputation in the new mediated and hyperlinked environment of social, mass and individualized media, and it is here to stay as one of the virtual instruments of building organizational realities and post-truths as well. Last not least, Qi Ai and Hui Tan offer us the paper on “Acquirers’ prior related knowledge and post-acquisition integration; evidences from four Chinese firms,” bringing the issue back to the fold of a general knowledge management. The first of the authors comes originally from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan in China, but is also related to the University of Northampton, while the second author lists his position at the Royal Holloway in London as the main academic position but list also an academic institution in Wuhan, namely the Hubei University of Economics.

Researchers contributing to our recognition of the emergent forms of organization of knowledge and our understanding of implications of it is change are slowly taking over the sterile methodological or PR-sweetened political correctness. So be it.