The so-called rigor–relevance gap appears unbridgeable in the classical view of organization science, which is based on the physical sciences’ model. Constructivist scholars have also pointed out a certain inadequacy of this model of science for organization research, but they have not offered an explicit, alternative model of science. Responding to this lack, this paper brings together the two separate paradigmatic perspectives of constructivist epistemologies and of organizational design science, and shows how they could jointly constitute the ingredients of a constructivism-founded scientific paradigm for organization research. Further, the paper highlights that, in this constructivist view of organizational design science, knowledge can be generated and used in ways that are mutually enriching for academia and practice
We propose a methodological framework for developing and communicating academic knowledge relevant for practice: the dialogical model. This model of engaged scholarship comprises five activities: specifying a research question, elaborating local knowledge, developing conceptual knowledge, communicating knowledge, and activating knowledge. The current article focuses on the early stage of research question design and presents the epistemological framework in which the model was initially developed. It also offers guidance on how to maintain academic value and practical relevance in tension throughout the research process. Examples illustrate how to construct research questions relevant both for academia and practice, and how to justify validity in pragmatic constructivism. This model can likewise be mobilized in other epistemological frameworks, particularly for knowledge generation purposes. It enriches the researchers’ methodological toolbox by adding a new procedural tool that provides valuable guidelines from the very start of research projects. Relevance: The first part of this article is dedicated to presenting and discussing what internal validity, external validity, and reliability mean specifically in pragmatic constructivism, which is another name for radical constructivism. This naming is consistent with the radical constructivist view of the relationship between knowledge and action, and has the advantage of being free from all the misinterpretations associated with the term “radical.”
Open peer commentary on the target article “Who Conceives of Society?” by Ernst von Glasersfeld. Excerpt: The question I am most interested in is the question raised by von Glasersfeld as to whether Luhmann’s talk of “eigen-values” of society actually is, or is not, just a loose metaphor as von Glaserfeld maintains by emphasizing that in the society of human beings “the recursion of operations of observation or description is not governed by fixed rules, unlike the recursion of functions that produce mathematical eigenwerte” (§44, Fn. 4). Indeed, how are we to conceive of the possible eigen-values of society? And who are we to possibly be able to conceive of possible eigen-values?
The paper compares social systems theory and social network theory in terms of what it is they respectively seek to elucidate. Whereas systems theory focuses on problems of difference and reproduction, network theory deals with problems of identity and control, the former privileging communication and the latter action. To understand their different foci, it may help to keep in mind that systems theory is a child of computing’s formative years, whereas the more recent success of network theory, despite its roots in a far older tradition, accompanies the advent of the Internet. The paper goes on to compare the two theories with respect to questions of mathematical modeling, culture, and self-reference, which interestingly are closely related. It proposes a mathematical modeling of culture, which uses Spencer-Brown’s notion of form to combine variables of communication, consciousness, and life into one network relying on three systems capable of reproducing themselves. The paper is relevant for constructivist approaches because it shows how systems are constructed relying on networks within their own interpretation as culture.
In the paper we maintain that one way to phrase the title question is to look for the introduction of new media for the distribution of communication as chocks forcing society to develop new structures to both reject and accept possible communication. We develop a kind of media archeology by checking this thesis in the four cases of language, writing, the printing press, and the computer, respectively. We show that four models, the ethnological, the ontological, the functional, and the ecological, help to hold society together by precisely asking the question of how it holds together. The paper is relevant for constructivist approaches because it shows the culture forms that different societies rely on to construct themselves.
The book uses the method and categories of systems theory (inspired by Niklas Luhmann) in a scrutiny of the evolution of the main semantic trends of modern society and its influence in the formation of the systemic boundaries of the social systems of society. The book is an investigation of the meaning of the functional differentiation according to its semantic symptoms and evolution. In order to reconstruct the semantic evolution of basic modern socio-economic categories the book is divided according to the three classic branches of the political philosophy of the classic tradition, the Aristotelian division also conserved in Hegel’s own distribution of the themes of his “Sittlichkeit” – family, civil society and the state. Thus, in “The Individuation of Modern Society” the author explores the classic notion of oikós and its opposition to the pólis, the evolution of the concept of utility in modern times and its importance to the formation of the modern political economy and the economic system as an autonomous functional system, the idea of “civil society,” its meaning in the Hegelian description of the social modernity, the fragmentation of XVIIIth century civil society according to the use of the term “Entzweiung” in the Hegelian philosophical vocabulary, and the formation of the concept of the nation as a self-referential condition of the political system. The book finishes with a discussion of Niklas Luhmann’s theory of functional differentiation and his concept of the political system. Relevance: The book applies second-order cybernetics to the analysis of the evolution of modern social systems, especially in the case of the formation of self-referential conditions for the observation and reproduction of the systems.
This is a major departure from traditional approaches to team and social group dynamics and is based firmly in Maturana and Varela’s explanation of language, (languaging and conversing). The obvious audience is academics and practitioners involved in team working and team work theory. However, for proponents of Maturana and Varela, the paper shows how the biology of cognition can be a foundation of a multidisciplinary theory of social group dynamics. Somewhat controversially, I suspect, I believe I have found a point of agreement between the “complexity scientist,” Stuart Kauffman, and Maturana and Varela. The result is a concept of supracritical conversational networks that are nonlinear dynamical systems and hence the source of “complexity” in social systems.
This is the first full length monograph dedicated to the question of epistemology from a peripheral perspective. It explores all the consequences of science as defined by mainstream theories and the impact it has in peripheral areas of the planet in terms of knowledge, learning, and understanding. The book assumes, among other aspects, (i) that space and not time is the relevant realm to discuss in terms of knowledge, (ii) that any knowledge is a local construction, (iii) that all concepts have a meaning issue as well as questions of historiography, and (iv) that there are no pre-conceptions in terms of knowledge but all theories are part of a negotiation with the immediate environment. The book also develops and tries to take forward Maturana’s notion of “deriva” and “lenguajeando.”
The enactive approach replaces the classical computer metaphor of mind with emphasis on embodiment and social interaction as the sources of our goals and concerns. Researchers from a range of disciplines unite to address the challenge of how to account for the more uniquely human aspects of cognition, including the abstract and the nonsensical.
We summarize some of the main proposals of the enactive approach to social understanding and discuss some common misreadings of the notion of participatory sense-making. The emphasis on the role played by social interaction in the enactive perspective is sometimes misinterpreted as the adoption of an interactionist stance, whereby individual processes are less relevant. This is not the case, and we proceed to explain and exemplify the central role played by individual agency, subpersonal processes and subjective personal experience in the framework of participatory sense-making. This is clear from how social interaction is defined as involving the co-arising of autonomous relational patterns, not under the full control of any participant, but without loss of individual autonomy of those engaged in the social encounter. We discuss how interactive patterns can sustain a deep entanglement between brain, body and interactive dynamics during social engagement, as well as the functional role played in some case by collective dynamics. The enactive approach is neither individualistic, nor interactionist. However, we express skepticism regarding the usefulness of hybrid approaches, which perpetuate dualistic distinctions between mind and body. Instead, the tensions in the notion of participatory sense-making are elaborated dialectically, demonstrating how complex forms of social agency, including language, develop from the primordial tension in participatory sense-making.