Knowledge Sharing

Working Knowledge: Business Research for Business Leaders

Many scholars aspire to contribute to their discipline's knowledge and to influence practitioners' decision-making. However, practitioners very rarely read articles published in peer-reviewed journals. No wonder. Most journals are difficult to access and prohibitively expensive for anyone outside of academia. Even if the current open-access movement becomes more successful, the incomprehensible jargon and the sheer volume and lengths of papers would still prevent practitioners from reading and understanding them.
It’s therefore I here connect leading edge research and ideas on business management with practitioners, leaders, and academics. You are introduced to the newest thinking on many business topics to make their way into mainstream practice.

The ‘Shakespearean Fool’

The organization-as-theatre

Fools have told Kings and later Managers the truth. The typical Fool nowadays is a Management Consultant. The Wise Fool provide truth, balance, play, recreation, destruction, creation, change. Shakespeare used the wise fool’s freedom to offer critical observations that coming from any other character, would have been rebellious to the system. Historically, the ‘Shakespearian fool’ is an ironic and paradoxical figure who enjoyed unusual toleration and relative freedom in speaking his mind. He was often able to offer strange insights through his foolery.
Photo: Heide Pinkall /

Practical wisdom and cunning intelligence

The roots of learning and education

The Greek civilization was atune to the reconciliation of opposites and the acknowledgement of ambiguities. Rules were profoundly linked to their transgression. An ethical life did not mean necessarily abiding by the rules but rather the practice of the metis. Practical knowledge was considered crucial to the Greeks, as it was the road to both practical wisdom (phronesis) and cunning intelligence (metis). It was in the interaction based on this knowledge, that the Greeks saw the roots of learning and education. They saw practical knowledge as the essential source of all wisdom, but also of all ruse.

The ‘Cheat’ and the ‘Spoilsport’

"You can't play the game if you don't know the rules"

All play has its rules. These rules are a very important factor in the play-concept. Here I refer to Huizinga’s ‘Play Theory’. Within contemporary leadership ideas, with the rules of performance and its ‘staged authenticity’, where the status of a person is measured in terms of visibility and activity, one must stick to the rules of the game. The rules of this play are absolutely binding and permit no doubt. According to the French poet, essayist and philosopher Paul Valéry, no scepticism is possible where the rules of a game are concerned, for the principle underlying them is an unshakable truth. Indeed, as soon as the rules are disobeyed, the whole play-world collapses. The player who trespasses against the rules or ignores them is a ‘spoilsport’.

The Stupidity Paradox

The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work

In The Stupidity Paradox, Andre Spicer and Mats Alvesson explore how knowledge intensive organizations employ smart people and encourage them to do stupid things. The authors, experts in business administration and organizational behaviour, observe that organizations "which employ so many smart people … foster so much stupidity". The authors call this mix of intellect and ineptitude ‘functional stupidity‘, something they define as "the inclination to reduce one’s scope of thinking and focus only on the narrow, technical aspects of the job". The Stupidity Paradox explains why 'functional stupidity' is actually an important survival strategy for many organizations.