Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Venue: FB4.04/08, 4th Floor, Bancroft Building, Mile End Campus, E1 4NS
Mike Zundel, University of Liverpool Management School
Practical Wisdom, Mētis, and the question of theory
Like within most management schools, management education provided by the School of Business and Management emphasises intervention, for instance in the initiation of strategic change programmes, or when assessing the efficacy of work, which relate effects to causes and associates the latter with managerial activity. Traditional management disciplines such as strategy and economics equip prospective managers with templates for action and with auditing techniques allowing ambiguous management contexts to be neatly measured and conceptually ordered. Yet by doing so, management schools may overshadow the situated resourcefulness of ordinary men and women and reproduce an ethos of intervention that focuses primarily on explicit, visible and forceful action. The paper explores an alternative modus by highlighting the engaged, situated practical wisdom that was widely acknowledged in ancient Greek mythology and which, it argues, is regularly enacted by successful managers. The paper finds relevance to the SBM research community by opening up opportunity for dialogue over the possibility of managerial theory and the nature of managerial knowledge involved in successful managerial practice.
Greek mythology details the coming into being of cosmos in which curious form of knowledge prevails. Both the name of a Goddess and a way of being, ‘Mētis’ signifies the situated resourcefulness depicted by shrewd and cunning characters, including Athena, Zeus and Odysseus. Mētis operates underneath explicit accounts of what is the case. Thriving on dissimulation and the capacity to exploit short-lived advantages, it brings the shortcomings of measurement and conceptual order in management into critical relief and offers ideas about managerial responses which are not based on force but strive for a harmonic balance of dynamic and recursive patterns.