Organizational Knowledge and Technology

Organizational Knowledge and Technology

An Action-Oriented Perspective on Organization and Information Systems

Rodrigo Magalhães

This book attempts to make sense of a new area of integrated study, namely information systems and information technology (IS/IT) and the organization. It also aims to bring this mix into the broader theme of complexity as applied to organization and management and to draw useful conclusions about how to organize and how to manage IS/IT in the knowledge era. The author argues in favour of a more action-oriented – as opposed to planning dominated – approach to information systems management.

Chapter 4: Organizational Paradigms: Old and New

Rodrigo Magalhães

Subjects: business and management, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, organisational innovation


The intellectual disease of analysing data to the exclusion of the situation may be called data fixation. Its principal symptom is a certain obsessiveness with arithmetic (…) I must confess that I regard the invention of statistical pseudo-quantities like the coefficient of correlation as one of the minor intellectual disasters of our time; it has provided legions of students and investigators with opportunities to substitute arithmetic for thought on a grand scale. (K. Boulding, 1958, Administrative Science Quarterly, 3 (1):16) INTRODUCTION The learning organization has been one of the most attractive ideas that has been put to managers in the last few years, but what does it mean? And most importantly, how is it achieved? Can an organization learn? What does organizational knowledge mean? We submit that the learning organization will only become a viable proposition when managers come to the realization such an organization stands on the opposite side to the machine organization (Morgan, 1997). Machine organizations are those we see around us every day and which are still being created today, based on the century-old commandand-control management paradigm. It is not possible to create learning organizations out of machine organizations simply because the assumptions behind the latter are radically different from the assumptions that would be needed to create the former. Morgan (1997) in his Images of Organization has suggested two metaphors which together explain what the learning organization is. They are the organization as flux and transformation and the organization as a living culture. We believe...

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