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 Risk taking across the life span: The effects of hardship
08.01.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Using social media for professional purposes – does it pay off?
08.12.2015 | Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Production of an AIDS vaccine in algae

Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.

The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...

Im Focus: The most accurate optical single-ion clock worldwide

Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".

Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...

Im Focus: Goodbye ground control: autonomous nanosatellites

The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.

Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...

Im Focus: Flow phenomena on solid surfaces: Physicists highlight key role played by boundary layer velocity

Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.

The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).

Im Focus: New study: How stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels

A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Travel grants available: Meet the world’s most proficient mathematicians and computer scientists

09.02.2016 | Event News

AKL’16: Experience Laser Technology Live in Europe´s Largest Laser Application Center!

02.02.2016 | Event News

From intelligent knee braces to anti-theft backpacks

26.01.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New method opens crystal clear views of biomolecules

11.02.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots

11.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA sees development of Tropical Storm 11P in Southwestern Pacific

11.02.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>