Organizational ignorance (Towards a managerial perspective on the unknown)

Unknown_December_1939_coverThose interested in the management of organisations may already be aware that the concept of ‘Ignorance Management’ has its own page at Wikipedia. A definition was first provided in 2012 by John Israilidis Antoniou and colleagues at Loughborough University, UK.    [source]

“Ignorance Management is a process of discovering, exploring, realising, recognising and managing ignorance outside and inside the organisation through an appropriate management process to meet current and future demands, design better policy and modify actions in order to achieve organisational objectives and sustain competitive advantage.”

Since then, new aspects of Ignorance Management have fallen under academic scrutiny. Take for example ‘Organizational Ignorance’ – which perhaps could be described as the prevalence and possible relevance of perceived (or actual) benefits/detractions of unknown factors within organizations. A new paper in the journal Management Learning (July 2013 vol. 44 no. 3) explores ‘Organizational Ignorance’ in depth. Professor Joanne Roberts, BA (Hons), PGCE, PhD, FHEA who is now at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK explains in : ‘Organizational ignorance: Towards a managerial perspective on the unknown.’

“This article aims to bring organizational ignorance to the attention of management scholars and practitioners and thereby initiate the development of a managerial perspective on the unknown. Although managing every aspect of the unknown is beyond reach, the development of an appreciation of organizational ignorance can offer a valuable means of reflecting on management issues, particularly given the bounded rationality of organizational actors in contexts characterized by ever increasing supplies of knowledge and information, growing complexity, and the need to respond quickly to opportunities and challenges. The article begins with an account of why organizational ignorance warrants attention. The nature of ignorance and organizational ignorance is then considered and a typology of organizational ignorance is presented. The article concludes with a call for the development of a managerial perspective on the unknown, together with the elaboration of research questions that can usefully direct future investigations into organizational ignorance.“

(You may purchase this article for US$32.00)


[1]   The Wikipedia page above provides an external link to an ‘Ignorance Management benchmarking questionnaire’ which Improbable advises may be best appreciated with a pinch of salt and with one’s tongue in one’s cheek.

[2]  The illustration is from the December 1939 edition of Unknown magazine.

 ALSO SEE: The Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal.