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Book part
Publication date: 11 April 2019

Wolfgang Seibel

Pragmatism in the sense of harmonizing rules and reality for the sake of appropriate problem solving and overall performance is a ubiquitous phenomenon in organizational…

Abstract

Pragmatism in the sense of harmonizing rules and reality for the sake of appropriate problem solving and overall performance is a ubiquitous phenomenon in organizational life. As such it has been generalized as an everyday requirement of making organizations work and a virtue of human decision making under the condition of complexity, strategic dilemmas or “wicked problems.” This chapter addresses both the theoretical and the normative dimensions of pragmatism in organizations, public administration in particular. The main statement is that the necessary theoretical clarification concerns the distinction between pragmatism and what is referred to as a logic of appropriateness while the normative limits of pragmatism refer to the necessity of ranking logics of appropriateness and related values plus the ability to act on the basis of accurate judgment which is primarily, even if not exclusively, a matter of leadership.

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The Production of Managerial Knowledge and Organizational Theory: New Approaches to Writing, Producing and Consuming Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-183-4

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Book part
Publication date: 7 February 2011

Bente Elkjaer and Barbara Simpson

In the past, critics have dismissed American Pragmatism as intellectually naïve and philosophically passé, but in this chapter we argue that it still has much to offer the…

Abstract

In the past, critics have dismissed American Pragmatism as intellectually naïve and philosophically passé, but in this chapter we argue that it still has much to offer the field of organization studies. Pragmatism is especially relevant to those organizational scholars who are concerned with understanding the dynamic processes and practices of organizational life. This chapter lays out the historical development of Pragmatism, recognizing the originating contributions of Peirce, James, Dewey and Mead. Although each of these writers developed unique philosophical positions, their ideas are all permeated by four key themes: experience, inquiry, habit and transaction. The interplay between these themes informs a temporal view of social practice in which selves and situations are continuously constructed and reconstructed through experimental and reflexive processes of social engagement. We then use organizational learning theory as an example to illustrate the relevance of these four themes, contrasting the anti-dualistic stance of Pragmatism with the work of Argyris and Schön. Finally we turn to consider Weick's organizing and sensemaking, suggesting that Pragmatism offers three potential foci for further development of these theories, namely continuity of past and future in the present, the transactional nature of social agency and reflexivity in social practices. Similarly we see potential for Pragmatism to productively inform the theorizing of other organizational practices such as identity work, strategy work, emotion work and idea work.

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Philosophy and Organization Theory
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-596-0

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2020

Sid Lowe, Michel Rod and Ki-Soon Hwang

The purpose of this paper is to promote the use of pragmatism within industrial marketing and purchasing (IMP), business-to-business (B2B)/network research with its…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to promote the use of pragmatism within industrial marketing and purchasing (IMP), business-to-business (B2B)/network research with its enhanced emphasis on developing adaptable, workable solutions to practical problems. The usability of findings and the study produced means that implications and impact become a natural part of the research process rather than an afterthought concluding a research project. Although the reader might feel that the approach oscillates between viewing pragmatism in its everyday sense (through the use of terminology such as “a pragmatic approach […].,” the intent is to elevate the discussion to one where pragmatism is viewed as a guiding philosophy.

Design/methodology/approach

It blends literature review and conceptual contemplation and challenges convention by “reading against the grain” (Brown and Wijland, 2018).

Findings

The authors do this to challenge convention and advocate for pluralism and diversity, theoretical evolution based on empirical evidence and increased sensitivity to the critical role of discourse, semiotics and abduction as a catalyst between theory, method and empirical activities. This conceptual blending portrays “activities” and beliefs as mutually constituted through the symbolic mediation of rhetoric and discourse.

Research limitations/implications

Existing elements of American pragmatism and discourse are identified as already a tacit constituent of the IMP oeuvre. Combining these approaches more explicitly is advocated as a suitable basis for a potential future “IMP 3” research agenda with significant potentials afforded to IMP and B2B marketing research.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the development and dissemination of alternative and critical perspectives in marketing theory. The implication is that activities must usually be justified by actors within communication as believable and this process always involves mixtures of rational and non-rational appeals. Existing elements of American pragmatism and discourse are identified as already a tacit constituent of the IMP oeuvre. Combining these approaches more explicitly is advocated as a suitable basis for a potential future “IMP 3” research agenda with significant potentials afforded to IMP and B2B marketing research.

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 35 no. 11
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2015

Max Baker and Stefan Schaltegger

The purpose of this paper is threefold. To clarify what is meant by “pragmatism” as a philosophy for social and environmental accountability (SEA) research, to survey its…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is threefold. To clarify what is meant by “pragmatism” as a philosophy for social and environmental accountability (SEA) research, to survey its use within this research field and to explore how a further pursuit of pragmatism may extend this research field.

Design/methodology/approach

An extensive review of the SEA literature was conducted in order to determine what aspects of the philosophy of pragmatism have been used within the research. The authors organised the discussion of the literature around the pragmatist ideas of “truth” and “sensemaking”.

Findings

SEA research is a heterogeneous space in which various ideas are commonly attributed to the philosophical notion of pragmatism. However, there is a tension in the literature between seeing accounting as a medium for representing social and environmental organisational activities and a pragmatist view of accountings as a way of allowing managers and stakeholder to make sense of these same activities.

Research limitations/implications

A clearer development of the ideas of pragmatism may be used to redirect the focus of SEA research in a number of useful ways. Seeing accounting as a medium of sensemaking between organisations and their stakeholders allows the authors to widen the exploration of accounting not only to the production of reports but also their interpretation by users. The ideas of pragmatism also allow the authors to explore the ways stakeholders might affect change within organisations and how accounting may support this process rather than capture or limit it.

Practical implications

This paper concludes by providing a set of methodological prescriptions for conducting future SEA research in a way that is inspired by pragmatism. It outlines an approach to research that focuses on users and their sensemaking and encourages an exploration of the possible ways accounting may create positive change in organisations.

Originality/value

Overall, this paper refines what it means to follow pragmatism within SEA research. It will promote a clearer understanding of how we, as a research community, may engage with practice in more positive ways in order to facilitate corporate social responsibility.

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2005

Olof Sundin and Jenny Johannisson

To show that the neo‐pragmatist position of Richard Rorty, when combined with a sociocultural perspective, provides library and information science (LIS) with a forceful…

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Abstract

Purpose

To show that the neo‐pragmatist position of Richard Rorty, when combined with a sociocultural perspective, provides library and information science (LIS) with a forceful epistemological tool.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature‐based conceptual analysis of: historical development of pragmatism in relation to other epistemological positions; neo‐pragmatism as a non‐dualist, both purpose and communication oriented, epistemology; and a sociocultural perspective within pedagogy, originated from the Russian researcher Lev Vygotsky.

Findings

Brought together, a neo‐pragmatist, sociocultural perspective contributes to a focus on people's actions through the use of linguistic and physical tools. As a tangible example of how neo‐pragmatism can be applied as an epistemological tool within LIS, information seeking seen as communicative participation is discussed. This article unites a perspective on information seeking as communicative participation with the neo‐pragmatist concepts of “tools” and “communities of justification”. The article is concluded by an assessment of neo‐pragmatism as an epistemological position within LIS, including those research issues that arise from this position and that are introduced along the way.

Practical implications

In its focus on usability, the neo‐pragmatist position provides a possible bridge between academic and other professional practices in the field of LIS.

Originality/value

Provides, through the means of neo‐pragmatism, an argument for the necessity of epistemological argumentation within LIS.

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Journal of Documentation, vol. 61 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Book part
Publication date: 26 September 2006

Michael Ilg

This paper addresses the theory of legal pragmatism from the vantage of evolutionary metaphor. Legal pragmatism tends to incorporate a progress narrative with similarities…

Abstract

This paper addresses the theory of legal pragmatism from the vantage of evolutionary metaphor. Legal pragmatism tends to incorporate a progress narrative with similarities to both evolutionary biology and classical economics, in which social developments are thought to be determined by competition among techniques and ideas. The difficulty with such competitive views of social change is that they obscure the extent to which successful solutions of the past – now the status quo – may be less adept at meeting new and future problems. Drawing on the evolutionary and economic variant theory of path dependence, it is argued that an assumption that the best, most efficient technique always wins out unduly sanctifies the present and inhibits awareness of unmet challenges. Ultimately, the encouragement of social change and advancement would be more securely located in the legal promotion of individual attempts at originality, rather than an assumption that competition is constantly moving toward perfection.

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Studies in Law, Politics and Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-323-5

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1990

Ralph E. Ancil

A prima facie case is made that neo‐classical thinking ismeaningfully influenced by the philosophy of pragmatism. Three majoraspects of this philosophy are considered…

Abstract

A prima facie case is made that neo‐classical thinking is meaningfully influenced by the philosophy of pragmatism. Three major aspects of this philosophy are considered based on the writings of leading pragmatists and instrumentalists such as James and Dewey. These aspects include the cosmology, the axiology and the methodology of pragmatism. The ways in which these three aspects manifest themselves in neoclassical thought are then examined and identified. Among other things it is concluded that a certain unresolved tension exists within the pragmatist′s view which is also carried over into economic thinking. This tension at least partly accounts for the existence of neo‐institutionalists who likewise claim a pragmatist influence in their work but who are critical of neoclassical thought. The article concludes by pointing out some problems in this philosophy.

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International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 17 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2012

Miron Wolnicki

The greatest asset of US capitalism until recently has been a blend of pragmatism with a passion to create the best socio‐economic system in the world. Today the USA is…

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468

Abstract

Purpose

The greatest asset of US capitalism until recently has been a blend of pragmatism with a passion to create the best socio‐economic system in the world. Today the USA is besieged by unprecedented budget deficit, public debt, financial crises, unemployment and rising anti‐governmentalism. The author believes the root cause lies in the elimination of the principles of pragmatism from governance, together with an assumption that the system which triumphed over communism is infallible. The purpose of this paper is not to find proof that an interventionist government would always be better or that higher taxes benefit the economy. Instead, using the examples of various policy mishaps, the paper seeks to prove the superiority of pragmatism over any ideology as a guiding principle of good governance.

Design/methodology/approach

The author uses pragmatism as criteria for impartial, non‐partisan, non‐ideological evaluation of the state of the American economy and the causes for the rise of populist movements in the country.

Findings

Neoconservatives were right to believe that markets do work. They will be needed to find solutions for skyrocketing costs of medicare, medicaid and job displacement caused by globalization. Neoliberals were correct to allow the development of profitable financial sector and give Americans access to cheap credit. However, what has been dramatically missing is a countervailing government economic policy to address increased riskiness of the financial markets, falling labor income, wealth distribution, education, energy dependence and an aging infrastructure. Liberal democrats did not propose comprehensive plan for government economic interventionism also they well understood its importance.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is believed to be the first interdisciplinary (political economy, history, social economics, social psychology) attempt to identify the causes of the declining economic power of the USA.

Practical implications

The paper can improve understanding of complex socio‐economic phenomena by the students of US economy and those who would like to sort out true facts from unproven beliefs and do not understand complex econometric models.

Social implications

The paper can improve understanding of complex socio‐economic phenomena affecting lives of millions of people.

Originality/value

The paper states clearly that the problems of the US economy are not caused by globalization but they originate at home from self‐imposed ideological straitjackets by the decision‐making elites and their departure from traditional US pragmatism.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 39 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 26 August 2014

Graham Badley

– The purpose of this paper is to present pragmatism as a useful way for supervisors to help their research students become effective research writers.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present pragmatism as a useful way for supervisors to help their research students become effective research writers.

Design/methodology/approach

I first provide a brief overview of pragmatism, paying special attention to key figures such as John Dewey and Richard Rorty. Second, I suggest ways in which pragmatist supervisors might help research students improve as research writers by focusing on a set of issues including developing an andragogical relationship, adopting a pragmatist approach to ethics and discussing writing styles.

Findings

Pragmatism is not offered as an approach which must necessarily be adopted by supervisors but, rather, as a useful set of resources for them to use as they try to help doctoral students develop as thesis/research writers.

Originality/value

Pragmatism is rarely, if ever, discussed as a potentially fruitful and valuable way of helping students develop as doctoral writers.

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Quality Assurance in Education, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0968-4883

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1994

Trevor H. Maddock

Examines the claim that materialist pragmatism is more coherent thanalternative accounts of educational administration. Argues that thecriteria of coherence provided by…

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Abstract

Examines the claim that materialist pragmatism is more coherent than alternative accounts of educational administration. Argues that the criteria of coherence provided by materialist pragmatists lack overall coherence and that there are no means for choosing between theories in the way they suggest. Arguments against the separation of factual and evaluative realms are unconvincing, and the materialist pragmatists′ claims that they have avoided foundationalism while providing a non‐positivist theory of science are questionable. Suggests that the administration of education requires a concrete rather than an abstract approach such as materialist pragmatism provides. Concludes with the thought that it is through the relentless criticism of all conceptualization that philosophy provides its service to educational administration.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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