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Journal Articles Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization Year : 2022

How to study strategic ignorance in organizations: A material approach

Mahaut Fanchini
Meghan van Portfliet
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Abstract

This special issue is a testament to the interest in ignorance which has been shown across fields. However, questions remain on how to study the phenomenon. Methods diverge based on what type of ignorance is being examined and what field the study is located in. In this note, we find that a method to study a particular kind of ignorance, namely organizational strategic ignorance, is lacking, primarily due to the power and temporal dimensions at play. We offer that a material approach, specifically one focused on ‘boundary objects’, may be a fruitful avenue for investigating the topic. Objects have long been understood as sites of interpretive flexibility (Star, 2010), and there are parallels that can be drawn between materiality/absence and knowledge/ignorance, incorporating aspects of power, but also the temporal qualities that strategic ignorance encompasses. We draw on our research on whistleblowing to illustrate how boundary objects are a useful starting point for studies of strategic ignorance, and how a material approach in general may be an effective method for ignorance research more widely.
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Dates and versions

hal-03794190 , version 1 (03-10-2022)

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  • HAL Id : hal-03794190 , version 1

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Mahaut Fanchini, Meghan van Portfliet. How to study strategic ignorance in organizations: A material approach. Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, 2022. ⟨hal-03794190⟩
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