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Journal Article

Hypermodernist Travellers in a Postmodern World  pp1-8

Peter M. Bednar, Christine Welch

© Sep 2008 Volume 6 Issue 1, ECRM 2008, Editor: Ann Brown, pp1 - 94

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Abstract

As travellers, we are usually aware that a map is not the territory it represents. However, as researchers, inquiring into practice, are we always aware of the domain within which that practice is situated? Descriptions of practice sometimes suggest that this is not the case. For example, do engineers actually believe that the models they develop and use are reflections of some reality? It is likely that an engineer never actually follows his models when developing an artefact or process. Similarly, we can ask ourselves whether we believe that a chef actually cooks by following a recipe. Possibly, only someone who does not know how to cook would think so. These idealised models are simply the basis for discussionreflection and experimentation. It is sometimes the case, however, that descriptions of practice are produced based in a kind of rationality that suggests these misapprehensions are appropriate. In the context of research, can we say that postmodernism has any relevance? If, in the field of practice, only the uninitiated ever had illusions that the 'grand theories' of 'modernism' could be directly applicable, then informed research must recognize this also. To those with no illusions, such 'grand theories' were a basis for reflection and critique. Thus, to this extent we have always been 'modern' and still are. Rather than espousing a Postmodernist perspective, we might point to 'Hypermodernism' — a recognition that the 'grand theories' can only be used as metaphors, i.e. a basis for practical philosophy. By adopting such a stance, it is possible to avoid a false step of fighting 'straw men' and dismissing as worthless research that which could be useful material for reflection and learning when juxtaposed with other perspectives on practice. Models and explanatory frameworks within which research has been conducted need not be rejected as 'modernist' if there is recognition of their useful role as metaphor. At the same time, we suggest a need for a critically‑informed approach to research which sheds light upon taken‑for‑granted assumptions and naïve rationalities, illuminating metaphor and stimulating reflection.

 

Keywords: metaphor, reflective practice, postmodernism, critical systemic thinking, contextual inquiry

 

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Journal Article

The Use of Narratives to Reveal the Secret Data of Organisational Life  pp1-8

Andrew Armitage, Alan Thornton

© Jan 2012 Volume 10 Issue 1, Editor: Ann Brown, pp1 - 52

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Abstract

This paper considers the use of narrative exchanges in the form of letters and conversations as a legitimate research method when collecting “secret data” within organisational settings. It refers to narrative exchanges the authors’ undertook over a three‑month period, regarding their different perspectives on their University Staff Appraisal System. It explores personal tensions and anxieties that reside within the “secret data” of organisational life. It also reveals a concern regarding “professional commitments” with colleagues and the “managerial” edicts that dominate their work environment. From a “critical management” perspective, the paper initially provides an overview of the postmodern position and its impact upon organisational power relationships and knowledge, as individuals strive to attain and gain their authentic, personal voice within the domination of modernistic organisations. It then explains the methodological approach used for the narrative exchanges and describes the context and relationship of the two colleagues. Commencing from a discussion of organisational policy and postmodernist critiques the conversations increasingly developed into a dialogical meditation on the relationship between “self” and “other”. These narratives revealed, through their autographical, autobiographical and at times surreal discourses, messages that are often absent from conventional research data. The paper concludes with a perspective regarding critical management in which individual values, dignity, honesty and respect are upheld. Thus, narrative exchanges of this kind allow dialogical conversations in which statements are agreed, accepted, challenged or sometimes synthesised to be used as a means to explore and collect legitimate “secret data” of organisational life within an environment that respects the ethical and value systems of the participants engaged in narrative exchanges.

 

Keywords: postmodern, surrealism, autography, autobiography, aesthetic, individual voice, critical turn

 

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