Whatever Happened to "The Technology of Foolishness"? Does It Have Any Potential Today?

Bøje Larsen

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In 1971, the organization theorist James March published "The Technology of Foolishness" (ToF). The essay can be seen as inspired by ideas of the late 1960s in California. ToF argues that wise decision making should not only focus on pursuing given goals, as is often done, but also on finding new and better goals. The present study traces the reception of ToF in the scholarly literature. It has been much praised, but little used relative to other of March's contributions. The reception has often been superficial and ritual and March's harsher ideas have to some degree been sugarcoated. ToF has inspired work regarding playfulness, improvisation, hypocrisy and not least entrepreneurship. But there is unused potential in ToF. This potential is discussed in the next to final Section of this article. One is called intelligent holes in stupid organizations and concerns how to maintain or achieve free thinking in organizations and society. Another one regards hypocrisy – how to handle and use truth and lies in and around modern organizations and political systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101093
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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