On functional stupidity in organisations

“Functional stupidity is organizationally-supported lack of reflexivity, substantive rea- soning, and justification. It entails a refusal to use intellectual resources outside a narrow and ‘safe’ terrain. It can provide a sense of certainty that allows organizations to function smoothly. This can save the organization and its members from the frictions provoked by doubt and reflection. Functional stupidity contributes to maintaining and strengthening organizational order. It can also motivate people, help them to cultivate their careers, and subordinate them to socially acceptable forms of management and leadership. Such positive outcomes can further reinforce functional stupidity. However, functional stu- pidity can also have negative consequences such as trapping individuals and organiza- tions into problematic patterns of thinking, which engender the conditions for individual and organizational dissonance. These negative outcomes may prompt individual and collective reflexivity in a way that can undermine functional stupidity…” (p. 1196).

Reference: Alvesson, M. & Spicer, A. (2012). A Stupidity-Based Theory of Organizations. Journal of Mangement Studies, 49(7), p. 1195-1220.

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