Pluralism in Management: Organizational Theory, Management Education, and Ernst Cassirer, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Pluralism in Management

Organizational Theory, Management Education, and Ernst Cassirer, 1st Edition

By Eirik Irgens


156 pages

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Hardback: 9780415886178
pub: 2011-03-23
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Analytic philosophy has come to dominate organizational theory and management education, despite criticism from several notable scholars. The European continental philosophical tradition, on the other hand, is seen by some as a counterpoint to US- and UK-dominated functionalistic organizational theories. These two very different schools of thought are now largely practiced in isolation from one another. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century philosopher Ernst Cassirer served as a mediating force and facilitated a fruitful dialogue between the two schools until he was forced to leave Germany when the Nazi party came to power.

In Pluralism in Management, author Eirik J. Irgens utilizes Ernst Cassirer’s pluralistic philosophy in order to investigate how different but connected forms of knowing, including art, myth, religion, science, and history may help us become better organizational scholars and management educators. With a special emphasis on the complementary qualities of art and science, Irgens builds on Cassirer to discuss how art and science represent two different but complementary channels to reality, in contrast with each other but not in conflict or contradiction, and the challenge of developing "two-eyed" managers.

Revitalizing Cassirer’s almost forgotten philosophy, the book illustrates the value of philosophical application to organizational study, and the need for bringing together the best of the humanities and the science based management traditions in order to improve management education.


‘In this book Irgens offers a fresh take on organizational understanding by being among the first writers to transpose Cassirer's thinking to organization studies. The idea of consistently exploring organizational richness while not losing sight of the organizational surface is challenging and promising for management education as well as for consulting. The book adds to our understanding of organization as process.’- Tor Hernes, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

Table of Contents

1. An Autobiographical Account of a Formative Experience 2. Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms 3. Art and Science as Supplementing Forms 4. The Parting of the Ways and the Divide in Organizational Theory 5. Cassirer in the Light of Neuroscience 6. Bringing Cassirer Into Organizations 7. The Institution as a Symbolic Form

About the Author

Eirik J. Irgens is Professor of Educational Leadership at NTNU (the Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Irgens has published within organizational theory and change, professional development, educational leadership, organizational learning, and knowledge management.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Management, Organizations and Society

Management, Organizations and Society represents innovative work grounded in new realities; addressing issues crucial to an understanding of the contemporary world. This is the world of organized societies, where boundaries between formal and informal, public and private, local and global organizations have been displaced or vanished along with other nineteenth century dichotomies and oppositions. Management, apart from becoming a specialised profession for a growing number of people, is an everyday activity for most members of modern societies. Management, Organizations and Society will address these contemporary dynamics of transformation in a manner that transcends disciplinary boundaries, with work which will appeal to researchers, students and practitioners alike.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Business Ethics
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Organizational Behavior