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Uncharted Territories of Organizational Research: The Case of Karl Popper's Open Society and its Enemies

Armbrüster, Thomas; Gebert, Diether

This paper argues that Karl Popper's notions in his work 'The Open Society and Its Enemies' offer an approach to under-explored issues in organizational research, independent of Popper's epistemology. Popper's thoughts on the philosophy of science have largely been rejected in organization studies, and his socio-philosophical notions have hardly been considered. Yet they provide a frame of reference for viewing management trends, such as anti-bureaucratism and collectivist forms of work organization, in a different light. Popper's socio-philosophical notions suggest that 'closed' patterns of thinking are detrimental to a liberal-democratic social order. The paper argues that an outline of the philosophy of openness and closedness and an application to managerial concepts allows for insights into whether certain types of managerial thinking stand in contrast to, or in accordance with, a liberal-democratic order. It is concluded that, through the Popperian lens, some supposedly liberationist movements of management (liberation from bureaucracy or from a lack of belonging and emotion at work) possess clear traits of closedness and thus resemble the intellectual underpinnings of totalitarianism.
Published in: Organization Studies, 10.1177/0170840602232001, SAGE Publications
  • Dieser Beitrag ist mit Zustimmung des Rechteinhabers aufgrund einer (DFG geförderten) Allianz- bzw. Nationallizenz frei zugänglich.
  • This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.