Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 535–548 | Cite as

Philosophy of Management Between Scientism and Technology

  • Enrico BeltraminiEmail author
Research Article


This article addresses the difficulty in pursuing a philosophical engagement with management without falling into the trap of scientism. It also explores the option to turn management theorists away from science to seek insights from technology. The article is organized in four parts: a preliminary discussion on management from a philosophical viewpoint, a crucial distinction between philosophy of management as a mode of inquiry and a field of study, an analysis of the risk of scientism in the current philosophical work on management, and an initial inspection across the waters separating management and philosophy of technology.


Philosophy Management Scientism Technology 



A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the 12th Annual Conference of Philosophy of Management, St. Louis, Missouri, July 13–16, 2017. I thank John Orr, Paulina Segarra, Ajnesh Prasad, and Steven Segal for their valuable comments. I am indebted to two anonymous reviewers of an earlier version of this paper for providing insightful comments and directions for additional work which has resulted in this improved version.


  1. Agamben, G. (2011). The kingdom and the glory: for a theological genealogy of economy and government, tr. Lorenzo Chiesa, Matteo Mandarini. Stanford: Stanford University Press; Il regno e la gloria: Per una genealogia teologica dell’economia e del governo, Neri Pozza, 2007.Google Scholar
  2. Alvesson, M., Bridgman, T. and Willmott, H. (eds). (2009). Oxford handbook of critical management studies. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Aristotle (1945). Aristotle’s politics. In J. A. Smith and W.D. Ross (Eds). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  4. Arjoon, S. (2010). An Aristotelian-Thomistic approach to management practice. Philosophy of Management, 9(2), 47–64.Google Scholar
  5. Barley, S. R. (1983). Semiotics and the study of occupational and organizational cultures. Administrative Science Quarterly, 28(3), 393–413.Google Scholar
  6. Barnett, M. L., & Cahill, G. (2007). Measure less, succeed more: a Zen approach to organizational balance and effectiveness. Philosophy of Management, 6(1), 147–162.Google Scholar
  7. Bathurst, R. (2009). Enlivening management practice through aesthetic engagement: Vico, Baumgarten and Kant. Philosophy of Management, 7(2), 61–76.Google Scholar
  8. Bhattacharjee, A. (ed.) (2017). Ancient philosophies. Philosophy of Management 16(1).Google Scholar
  9. Bhattacharjee, A., McKenna, B. and Ray, S. (eds.) (2016). Indian philosophical issues - relevance to contemporary management. Philosophy of Management 15(1).Google Scholar
  10. Bucheli, M. and Wadhwani, R. D. (eds.). (2014). Organizations in time: history, theory, methods. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Burrell, G. (1988). Modernism, post modernism and organizational analysis 2: the contribution of Michel Foucault. Organization Studies, 9(2), 221–235.Google Scholar
  12. Coeckelbergh, M. (2015). Money machines: electronic financial technologies, distancing, and responsibility in global finance. Ashgate.Google Scholar
  13. Cooper, R. (1989). Modernism, post-modernism and organizational analysis 3: the contribution of Jacques Derrida. Organization Studies, 10(4), 479–502.Google Scholar
  14. Czarniawska, B. (1999). Writing management organization theory as a literary genre. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Czarniawska, B. (2007). A four times told tale: combining narrative and scientific knowledge in organization studies. In S. Minahan and J.W. Cox (Eds), The aesthetic turn in management. Ashgate.Google Scholar
  16. Darwin, J. (2010). Kuhn vs. Popper vs. Lakatos vs. Feyerabend: contested terrain or fruitful collaboration? Philosophy of Management, 9(1), 39–57.Google Scholar
  17. Dibben, M. R. (2009). Exploring Whitehead’s understanding of organizations: moving beyond the organising experience of individual managers. Philosophy of Management, 7(2), 13–24.Google Scholar
  18. Dibben, M., & Sheard, S. (2013). Reason in practice: a unique role for a ‘Philosophy of management’. Philosophy of Management, 11(3), 1–9.Google Scholar
  19. Eden, D. (2003). Critical management studies and the ‘Academy of Management Journal’: challenges and counterchallenges. Academy of Management Journal, 46(4), 390–394.Google Scholar
  20. Ferguson, N. (1997). Virtual history: towards a “chaotic” theory of the past. In N. Ferguson (Ed), Virtual history: alternatives and counterfactuals: 1–90. Papermac.Google Scholar
  21. Fontrodona, J., & Mele, D. (2002). Philosophy as a base for management: an Aristotelian integrative proposal. Philosophy of Management, 2(2), 3–9.Google Scholar
  22. Foucault, M. (2003). Society must be defended. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  23. George, G. (2014). Rethinking management scholarship. Academy of Management Journal, 57(1), 1–6.Google Scholar
  24. Grey, C., & Sinclair, A. (2006). Writing differently. Organization, 13(3), 443–453.Google Scholar
  25. Griseri, P. (2011). Editorial: foundations and processes. Philosophy of Management, 10(2), 1–7.Google Scholar
  26. Griseri, P. (2013). An introduction to the philosophy of management. SAGE Publications Limited.Google Scholar
  27. Hamel, G. (2011). Management 2.0. Wall Street Journal. February 17.Google Scholar
  28. Hatch, M. J. (2006). Organization theory: modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hillman, A. (2011). Editor’s comments: what is the future of theory? Academic of Management Review, 36(4), 606–608.Google Scholar
  30. Jay, A. (1971). Corporation man. Random House.Google Scholar
  31. Kessels, J. (2001). Socrates comes to market. Philosophy of Management, 1(1), 49–71.Google Scholar
  32. Kieser, A. (1994). Crossroads - why organization theory needs historical analysis - and how this should be performed. Organization Science, 5(4), 608–620.Google Scholar
  33. Kirkeby, O.F. (2000). Management philosophy: a radical-normative perspective. Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  34. Krentz, A. A., & Malloy, D. C. (2005). Opening people to possibilities: a Heideggerian approach to leadership. Philosophy of Management, 5(1), 25–44.Google Scholar
  35. Macaulay, M., & Lawton, A. (2003). Misunderstanding Machiavelli in management: metaphor, analogy and historical method. Philosophy of Management, 3(3), 17–30.Google Scholar
  36. Minahan, S. and J.W. Cox (eds.). (2007). The aesthetic turn in management. Ashgate.Google Scholar
  37. Mintzberg, H. (2009). America’s monumental failure of management. Globe and Mail. March 16, p. A13.Google Scholar
  38. Ossewaarde, M. (2017). ‘Crises of modernity’ discourses and the rise of financial technologies in a contested mechanized world. Philosophy and Technology, 30(1), 1–18.Google Scholar
  39. Phillips, N. (1995). Telling organizational tales: on the role of narrative fiction in the study of organizations. Organization Studies, 16(4), 625–650.Google Scholar
  40. Postman, N. (1993). Teechnopoly: the surrender of culture to technology. Vintage.Google Scholar
  41. Rehn, A., & Taalas, S. (2009). On Wittgenstein and management at rest: prolegomena to a philosophy of problems. Philosophy of Management, 7(2), 89–95.Google Scholar
  42. Rooney, D., & McKenna, B. (2007). Wisdom in organizations: whence and whither. Social Epistemology, 21(2), 113–138.Google Scholar
  43. Rooney, D., McKenna, B., and P. Liesch. (2010). Wisdom and management in the knowledge economy. Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Ross, D., Ladyman, J., and Spurrett, D. (2007). In J. Ladyman (Ed), Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Schein, E. H. (1985). Organizational culture and leadership. Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  46. Schmitt, Carl. (2005). Political theology: four chapters on the concept of sovereignty. Translated and with an introduction by G. Schwab. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  47. Sheard, S. (2009). Strategy as a feature of reflective action: Edmund Husserl’s theories as a temporal model of organisational identity. Philosophy of Management, 7(2), 25–40.Google Scholar
  48. Shenhav, Y. (2003). The historical and epistemological foundations of organization theory: fusing sociological theory with engineering discourse. In H. Tsoukas and C. Knudsen (Eds), The Oxford handbook of organization theory. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Styhre, A. (2004). Thinking driven by doubt and passion: Kierkegaard and reflexivity in organization studies. Philosophy of Management, 4(2), 9–18.Google Scholar
  50. Swidler, A. (1986). Culture in action: symbols and strategies. American Sociological Review, 51(2), 273–286.Google Scholar
  51. Thomas, R. (2010). What is the relevance of Karl Popper’s critical rationalism to management studies and practice? Philosophy of Management, 9(1), 5–38.Google Scholar
  52. Üsdiken, B., & Kieser, A. (2004). Introduction: history in organisation studies. Business History, 46(3), 321–330.Google Scholar
  53. Viana, D. (2016). Two technical images: blockchain and high-frequency trading. Philosophy and Technology, 29(4), 1–26.Google Scholar
  54. Vissing, L. (2004). A philosopher in public management In P. Gagliardi and B. Czarniawska (Eds), Management education and humanities. Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  55. Whitley, R. (1984a). The fragmented state of management studies. Reasons and consequences. Journal of Management Studies, 21(3), 331–348.Google Scholar
  56. Whitley, R. (1984b). The scientific status of management research as a practically oriented social science. Journal of Management Studies, 21(4), 369–390.Google Scholar
  57. Witzel, M. (2012). A history of management. Routledge.Google Scholar
  58. Wren, D. A. (2004). The history of management thought. Wiley.Google Scholar
  59. Wren, D. A., & Badeian, A. G. (2008). The evolution of management thought. Wiley.Google Scholar
  60. Zald, M. N. (1993). Organization studies as a scientific and humanistic enterprise - toward a reconceptualization of the foundations of the field. Organization Science, 4(4), 513–528.Google Scholar
  61. Zald, M. N. (1996). More fragmentation? Unfinished business in linking the social sciences and the humanities. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(2), 251–261.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Notre Dame de Namur UniversityBelmontUSA

Personalised recommendations