Explaining Ignoring: Working with Information that Nobody Uses

Anna Essén*, Morten Knudsen, Mats Alvesson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Research has demonstrated how ignorance is made, manipulated and called upon; how it is the result of strategies, activities and structures. This article extends the literature on ignorance by exploring actors’ own explanations of their self-inflicted ignorance following acts of ignoring. By means of a case analysis, we explore how actors explain and justify ignoring data they themselves produced. We provide a multifaceted model of how the ignoring actors’ own rationales, facilitated by contextual conditions, enable persistent acts of ignoring the content and dysfunction of collectively upheld systems. We contribute to the understanding of ignorance by demonstrating how self-inflicted ignorance is made possible by the combination of ignoring rationales and their facilitators, which configures buffers against knowledge-seeking efforts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)725-747
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Healthcare
  • Performance measurement
  • Tansparency
  • Strategic ignorance
  • Wilful ignorance
  • Functional stupidity
  • Division of labour
  • Image
  • Professionalism
  • Knowledge managment

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