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The Epistemological Basis for Resolving the Rigor-Relevance Debate in Management Research.

Since the time of Plato and Aristotle, there has been a debate over how humans can create valid knowledge about the world in which we operate.

Plato argued that abstract models within human cognition can be considered valid even if there is no corresponding instance of the phenomena observable in the external environment.

Aristotle argued that abstract models must have a corresponding instance of the phenomena they represent that is observable within the external environment.

Subsequently, Euclid was one of the first to use the linguistic frame of math to establish a rigorous correspondence between abstract models and real world evidence in his geometric proofs.

Since then, scientific breakthroughs and knowledge have emerged from the precise and accurate representations of the external environment made possible within the rigorous linguistics of basic math and Aristotle's scientific method.

Today, management research as practiced in accredited business schools has taken sides with Plato, not Aristotle. They operate within their own closed loop of investigation and knowledge generation that is based on abstract models of a theoretic world that is disconnected from the realities of practicing managers. Academics argue that the knowledge they generate is valid because it is "rigorous". Practitioners argue that this "knowledge" is not relevant to the real world in which they operate.

Until now, no one has followed the example of Euclid and expanded the frame of math to establish a more rigorous correspondence between the abstract models and the evidence from the external environment.

Basic Social Math is a new framework that seeks to change that by reconnecting management research to the real world!

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Basic Social Math

  1. 1. Basic Social Math © 2012 by Jared Lee Hanson DBA Stage 1 Assessment  The Epistemological Basis for Resolving the Rigor-Relevance Debate
  2. 2. Divided, But ‘Equal’  Immanuel Kant’s (1781) Epistemology: “reality is constructed in the mind”  Ontological Pluralism: no absolute truth (multiple realities exist)  Both Positivism and Constructivism are “Valid” Epistemologies (Phillips &Oswick, 2012, p37):  (sets of rules for making sense of the phenomena we observe in management) So Why the Debate?
  3. 3. Conflicting ‘Realities’  Academic Reality #1 Challenge “preventing us from engaging in the uses serious management problems in organizations: for “Rigor” as basis judging legitimacy. The Research-Practice Practitioner Reality Gap: That our research is not relevant to society.” uses “Relevance” as basis for judging - Anne S. Tsui, (2012) Academy of Management President legitimacy.
  4. 4. Irreconcilable Differences? 20+ years of  Survey/ Statistical debating and Methods no resolution… “No observational study can definitively  Therefore, Not Like establishare valid.” (Phillipset al, 2010,2012) “Both causality” (O’Brien &Oswick, 639) Physical Science! Why?  Interview/ Observation Where’s the Methods Problem?
  5. 5. Is Ontological Pluralism Scientific? Is there a difference between: “The objectivityDoes “Rigor” =their numerical precision attributed to Legitimacy } Can Sophisticated Math, Statistics, or Advancedby the inescapably rests on subjective decisions made Analytics or The internal, Determine Whichthe questionnaires and the participants who are researchers designing ‘Reality’ is Legitimate Science, not Art? ‘constructed’ asked to choose the verbal anchor that best Legitimacy? experience of Does “Relevance” = represents their realities the target phenomenon” (Sandelowski 2009). } & the external, NO! They can’t. Hence, no truth in ontological pluralism. ‘material’ reality?
  6. 6. conomics Psychology Education Truth = “Ideal Speech Situation” Economics Psychology Education Economics Psychology Education Communist Culture Islamic Culture American Culture  Habermas (1971): Which one is the ‘ideal speech situation’? ябълка apple  What’s the source of conflict & miscommunication?  Where is alignment needed to create ‘ideal speech’? }  Sense-making What happens to ‘truth’ and ‘meaning’ when the rules are here. rules don’t align?
  7. 7. Bridging the Philosophical Divide  Frankfurt School: Theory must inform practice, but “researchers and practitioners represent information in different [the ‘reality’ of] practice ways and use different language and strategies (Kelemen&Bansal, 2002; must also inform theory. Kieser&Leiner, 2009),  Austrian Economics: logical deduction from “irrefutable and researchers and practitioners have different epistemological facts,” not probabilistic stances (Rousseau, Manning, &Denyer, 2008; Shrivastava&Mitroff, 1984).” (Bansal, Bertels, modeling…instead isolate Ewart, MacConnachie, and O’Brien, 2012) logical processes of action.
  8. 8. Neuroscience & Experiential Learning  Is there more than one building behind the frames?  Nested Relationships of Emotion, Cognition,Learning, &Social Decision Making Management Decision Making (Immordino-Yang &Damasio 2007, Kolb 1975, Lund-Dean & Jolly, 2012)  Conceptual Alignment: “Decision making is a fundamental particle of management” (Noonan 2007) via Socially-Constructed, Cultural Narratives or The Narrative of Empirical Evidence?
  9. 9. New Theory of the Mind  Did you konwyuorbiarn is diongclalcuus to decdoetihsmssaege?  Physiology studies: 80% of the nerves going into the visual cortex of the braincome from areas associated with memory, while only 20% come from the eyes (Gawande 2008).
  10. 10. New Epistemological Frame  Meaning Rigorously Anchored & Corresponded to Empirical Evidence from Material Reality  The Material Reality of Practice Sets the Rules for Legitimacy: Ontological Unity (single set of rules that can represent all the complexity)  Theory & Methods have to ‘fly’ in practice = Rigor + Relevance = End of Debate!
  11. 11. Alignment = Scalable Dynamics  Going for “theoretic What if… we align rules generalization” of the set of rules (Meredith 1998) to empirics before we (epistemology) calculate meaning?  Not the “assumptive generalization” of statistical modeling (Meredith 1998) LXXVIII 78  Single set of rules that - XLIV } vs. Statistical - 44 Epistemology rules are here. assumptions theoretically applies across all contexts and scales of systemic size. (ontological unity) are here.
  12. 12. The Choice is Ours… Status Quo: Innovation: Innovation Brings  Do we keep ontological pluralism & New Tools  Do we seek ontological unity & start continue framing mgmt research in framing mgmt research in the narrative of socially-constructed narratives: That Extend label same phenomena in different ways & Our Vision: empirical evidencefrom the singular, translate between ‘multiple realities’ of material reality of practice to bring alignment cultures (GLOBE, Hofstede, etc.)? before calculations of meaning?  = “intellectual progress entails much more of  = harnessing the power of abstraction the nudging, pushing, competing, and linguistic rigor of basic math to and convincing that mark Kuhnian-style calculate meaning consistently across scientific systems (Kuhn, 1970).” (Devinney& cultures and scales of systemic size. Siegel 2012) Microscope of Neuroscience Telescope of Complexity Science
  13. 13. Research Proposition   Put this new epistemological frame to the “Abstraction is the key, recognizing test in a cross-cultural, change-management that ordersa Participant-Observer. and program as arriving at a warehouse people calling to purchase airline tickets  can be described in fundamentally Ethnographic Field Study to test if empirical rules same way. the generalize across cultures in practice.  Can managers reconcile conflicting views of  “While the actual business problems are stakeholders by anchoring to the empirical quite different, when abstracted they dynamics of learning and decision making rather than to socially-constructed, cultural can be studiedto navigate uncertainties narratives in order together.” (Boyd 2007) and foster change in complex operations?
  14. 14. Video Intro to Research Context Viewable at: https://vimeo.com/47904479 password: “socialmath”
  15. 15. Methodology  Ethnographic Case Study  Researcher as Participant-Observer: Both Documenting & Directing Managerial Activities (Experimental Interventions)  Documenting Examples of Conflict in the Operation and Impact of New Epistemological Framing on Resolution  Extensive Use of Video Recording to Document Initial Conditions, Interventions, & Outcomes. (Signed Consent Obtained from Participants for Audio/Video Usage)
  16. 16. Questions?  Other Feedback?

The Epistemological Basis for Resolving the Rigor-Relevance Debate in Management Research. Since the time of Plato and Aristotle, there has been a debate over how humans can create valid knowledge about the world in which we operate. Plato argued that abstract models within human cognition can be considered valid even if there is no corresponding instance of the phenomena observable in the external environment. Aristotle argued that abstract models must have a corresponding instance of the phenomena they represent that is observable within the external environment. Subsequently, Euclid was one of the first to use the linguistic frame of math to establish a rigorous correspondence between abstract models and real world evidence in his geometric proofs. Since then, scientific breakthroughs and knowledge have emerged from the precise and accurate representations of the external environment made possible within the rigorous linguistics of basic math and Aristotle's scientific method. Today, management research as practiced in accredited business schools has taken sides with Plato, not Aristotle. They operate within their own closed loop of investigation and knowledge generation that is based on abstract models of a theoretic world that is disconnected from the realities of practicing managers. Academics argue that the knowledge they generate is valid because it is "rigorous". Practitioners argue that this "knowledge" is not relevant to the real world in which they operate. Until now, no one has followed the example of Euclid and expanded the frame of math to establish a more rigorous correspondence between the abstract models and the evidence from the external environment. Basic Social Math is a new framework that seeks to change that by reconnecting management research to the real world!

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