SFB 504 discussion paper 98-20

Alfred Kieser
Lehrstuhl fr ABWL und Organisation
L 13, 15, D-68131 Mannheim

How Management Science, Consultancies and Business Companies (Do not) Learn from Each Other. Applying Concepts of Learning to Different Types of Organizations and to Interorganizational Learning

The central thesis of this paper is that management science, consultancy, and manage-ment practice are social systems, that are on the one hand, dependent on each other, but that, on the other hand, pursue different goals, are subjected to different norms, and therefore develop their own rationalities and their own rhetorics. The consequence is that each system, over time, builds up and cultivates language barriers vis vis the respective other systems. An analysis on the basis of theories of organizational learning shows that consulting proj-ects especially trigger problems of superstitious learning and learning under ambiguity, since it is impossible to properly evaluate their impact on performance. Another result is that consultants generally do not counterbalance their clients' tendency towards exploita-tion at the cost of exploration. Researchers seem to be even less successful than consultants in their attempts to support learning of organizations. This presents a problem to them, since as management scien-tists they are under pressure from practice to demonstrate the usefulness of their science. The consequence that follows from this analysis is that research and the development of methods for consulting cannot profit very much from each other, at least in the field of organization theory, and should therefore be decoupled to some extent.
C2 Kieser
Creation date:
Publication Status
Paper to be presented to the SCANCOR Conference ''Samples of the Future'', Stanford, September 20-22
Downloadable version
Download titlepage for internal use only

Direct questions and comments to our webmaster.