Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smart organisations should also be stupid according to new theory

28.01.2013
Critical reflection and shrewdness can help companies to avoid crises, but sometimes good old-fashioned stupidity can serve an important function in raising the efficiency of an organisation, claims Mats Alvesson, Professor of Organisation Studies at the School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Sweden, in a new theory of ‘functional stupidity’ that has been published in the Journal of Management Studies.

“We see functional stupidity as the absence of critical reflection. It is a state of unity and consensus that makes employees in an organisation avoid questioning decisions, structures and visions”, says Mats Alvesson. “Paradoxically, this sometimes helps to raise productivity in an organisation.”

Together with colleague André Spicer, Mats Alvesson has written an article entitled ‘A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organisations’, which was recently published in the renowned Journal of Management Studies and has been featured in the Financial Times. In the article, he expounds the logic behind ‘functional stupidity’.

“It is a double-edged sword. It is functional because it has some advantages and makes people concentrate enthusiastically on the task in hand. It is stupid because risks and problems may arise when people do not pose critical questions about what they and the organisation are doing.”

The state is partly a consequence of a kind of ‘stupidity management’, which suppresses and marginalises doubt and blocks open communication within the organisation. The parallels with some companies’ sudden financial crashes in recent years are clear.

“Short-term use of intellectual resources, consensus and an absence of disquieting questions about decisions and structures may oil the organisational machinery and contribute to harmony and increased productivity in a company. However, it may also be its downfall.”

According to the researchers, some industries are more stupid than others. Organisations that make a virtue of their staff’s wisdom and sell intangible services or branded products, such as parts of the mass media, the fashion industry and consultancy firms, are highlighted as being particularly disposed to develop functional stupidity.

“Functional stupidity is prominent in economies that are dominated by persuasion using images and symbolic manipulation. It is preferable that people have an enthusiastic belief in an activity which may not necessarily fulfil a need. New management may be required to manage the fine balance and possible pitfalls of functional stupidity”, says Mats Alvesson.

Articles:
Link to article: ‘A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organisations’, published in the Journal of Management Studies: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2012.01072.x/abstract
Link to Andrew Hill’s column ‘The Quest for the Right Kind of Stupidity’ in the Financial Times:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2cefbab2-5b23-11e2-8d06-00144feab49a.html#axzz2Ib7RPT95

Contact details:
Mats Alvesson, Professor of Organisation Studies at the School of Economics and Management, Lund University
Telephone: +46 46 222 42 44
Email: Mats.Alvesson@fek.lu.se
Link to article: ‘A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organisations’, published in the Journal of Management Studies

Helga Ekdahl Heun | idw
Further information:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2012.01072.x/abstract

Further reports about: Economics Financial Planner Lund Stupidity-Based smart bridges

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht How we understand others
28.04.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht The non-driving millennial? Not so simple, says new research
29.03.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

Im Focus: Transparent - Flexible - Printable: Key technologies for tomorrow’s displays

The trend-forward world of display technology relies on innovative materials and novel approaches to steadily advance the visual experience, for example through higher pixel densities, better contrast, larger formats or user-friendler design. Fraunhofer ISC’s newly developed materials for optics and electronics now broaden the application potential of next generation displays. Learn about lower cost-effective wet-chemical printing procedures and the new materials at the Fraunhofer ISC booth # 1021 in North Hall D during the SID International Symposium on Information Display held from 22 to 27 May 2016 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Economical processing

Im Focus: Trojan horses for hospital bugs

Staphylococcus aureus usually is a formidable bacterial pathogen. Sometimes, however, weakened forms are found in the blood of patients. Researchers of the University of Würzburg have now identified one mutation responsible for that phenomenon.

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is frequently found on the human skin and in the nose where it usually behaves inconspicuously. However, once inside...

Im Focus: Laser pulses: conductors for protons

Using ultrashort laser pulses an international team at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich has managed to manipulate the positions of atoms in hydrocarbon molecules.

Light can conduct the play of atoms and molecules in the microcosm. Humans manage to interfere with this play. Researchers from the Laboratory of Attosecond...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

Permafrost Conference in Potsdam, Germany

17.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Autonomous driving: emergence of new billion euro market

23.05.2016 | Information Technology

NEST: building of the future is up and running

23.05.2016 | Architecture and Construction

Researchers find that Earth may be home to 1 trillion species

23.05.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>