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Organizations as congitive systems :what do they process and deliver?

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  • Biggiero, Lucio

Abstract

The substitution of knowledge to information as the entity that organizations process and deliver raises a number of questions concerning the nature of knowledge. The dispute on the codifiability of tacit knowledge and that juxtaposing the epistemology of practice vs. the epistemology of possession can be better faced by revisiting two crucial debates. One concerns the nature of cognition and the other the famous mind-body problem. Cognition can be associated with the capability of manipulating symbols, like in the traditional computational view of organizations, interpreting facts or symbols, like in the narrative approach to organization theory, or developing mental states (events), like argued by the growing field of organizational cognition. Applied to the study of organizations, the mind-body problem concerns the possibility (if any) and the forms in which organizational mental events, like trust, identity, cultures, etc., can be derived from the structural aspects (technological, cognitive or communication networks) of organizations. By siding in extreme opposite positions, the two epistemologies appear irreducible one another and pay its own inner consistency with remarkable difficulties in describing and explaining some empirical phenomena. Conversely, by legitimating the existence of both tacit and explicit knowledge, by emphasizing the space of human interactions, and by assuming that mental events can be explained with the structural aspects of organizations, Nonaka’s SECI model seems an interesting middle way between the two rival epistemologies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 3089.

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Date of creation: 04 May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3089

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Keywords: cognition; emergent properties; knowledge; mental states; organization;

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  1. Patrick Cohendet & Patrick Llerena, 2003. "Routines and incentives: the role of communities in the firm," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 271-297, April.
  2. Herbert A. Simon, 1996. "The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262691914, December.
  3. Cowan,Robin, 2001. "Expert Systems: Aspects of and Limitations to the Codifiability of Knowledge," Research Memorandum 005, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  4. Cowan, Robin & Foray, Dominique, 1997. "The Economics of Codification and the Diffusion of Knowledge," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 595-622, September.
  5. Paul Nightingale, 2003. "If Nelson and Winter are only half right about tacit knowledge, which half? A Searlean critique of 'codification'," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 149-183, April.
  6. Nigel Gilbert & Pietro Terna, 2000. "How to build and use agent-based models in social science," Mind and Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 1(1), pages 57-72, March.
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