With Special Guests Mats Alvesson and Bjørn Erik Mørk
Ralph attended the 2017 Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities conference in Valladolid, Spain and had the opportunity to discuss The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work (Profile Books), co-authored by Mats Alvesson and André Spicer, with Mats Alvesson (keynote speaker) and Bjørn Erik Mørk (OLKC board member). This was another special recording to bring listeners engaging conversations about current work in organizational science and learning. Thanks to the OLKC 2017 organizing committee for making this possible.
OLKC is an annual conference that gathers scholars and practitioners in the field of Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities to present and discuss their latest research and practice.
“Functional stupidity” is the term used by Alvesson and Spicer to describe a strange phenomenon they observed in practice: smart people in organizations that do seemingly not smart things because people are discouraged to think and reflect. Examples of functional stupidity include being encouraged not to ask difficult questions, not “rocking the boat,” adoption of management fads and excessive focus on brand and image. In rare cases, functional stupidity can be adaptive because it supports order and stability, but there is great potential for catastrophe in the form of financial insolvency, organizational chaos, and technical error that leads to loss of life. Mats, Bjørn, and Ralph talked about functional stupidity and real world implications for nearly an hour after Mats’ keynote speech at the conference.
We hope you find their conversation engaging and stimulating!
You may also download the audio file here: E32