Opinions wanted

March 14, 2008

I am preparing a critique of an academic’s assertion of expertise (via reference to an extract from her thesis) in respect of research methods. Overall I am starting to wish I had not committed to this task. I did so partly due to a personal reaction to the smugness of the said academic’s contributions to a listserv, together with reports of patronising comments made by said academic to a good friend of mine. The regret is due to the tedium of the task; the document seems to a loose mixture of material repeated from a hundred other theses coupled with false or limited assumptions. In addition there seems to be a significant contradiction between the strong assertion of an interpretivism position and statements about general applicability that smack of the worse excesses of a management consultant. Now I could be getting some of this wrong so opinions as to the coherence of the following statement would be appreciated.

In undertaking interpretivist research, this researcher acknowledges that the findings “cannot be generalized to populations of organizations, and … cannot be used to characterize any type of organization” (Silva & Backhouse 2003, 327). The result of this research is the development of a KM governance framework and an understanding of how it is operationalized in organizations. It describes KM governance practices to formulate a well-founded framework for KM practitioners and theoreticians.

Now if findings cannot be generalised, then how can a well-founded framework for KM practitioners and theoreticians be created? Am I missing something here? Comments welcome, or email if you want to be anonymous!

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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