Diversity in Paradigms and Culture

In the chapter “Changing Contours of Organizations and Org Theory” of Organizations and Organizing Scott and Davis discuss the changes that are developing in the area of organization theory.  Two examples of change in the field caught my attention and reminded me of a concept from a previous chapter, “From Unitary to Multiparadigm” and “From Monocultural to Multicultural Studies.”  These two areas of change are similar in that they both deal with the evolution of knowledge in a certain area via diversity whether it’s in theories and ideas or international professional literature on the topic of organizational literature.  Diversity is gaining support as more academics and theorists become aware that “sometimes faulty assumptions and blind spots that we inherit from our predecessors” (Scott and Davis, p369).  The two topics’ push for diversity immediately recalled postmodernism and its suggestion of diversity over control and suppression of non-dominant cultures in an organization.  This similarity between postmodernism and the two topics from chapter 14 shows that the field of organizational theory is finally catching up with the vastly diverse cultures that make up modern multinational companies.

The multinational company of today can’t and shouldn’t suppress the contradictions that arise from multiple cultures within an organization.  That’s what makes them unique and in some cases superior to other solely domestic companies.  Like a company that can harness the tacit knowledge of their employees, multinational companies have a larger cultural base to extract tacit knowledge from.  More importantly other cultures like those from Japan and Germany are vastly different than that of the US.  This difference creates a larger spectrum of ideas and possible competitive business strategies.  The topic of multicultural studies touched on the same idea.  It asked the question, “Do we truly believe that the creation of a well-rounded field of organization studies can be based on such a based sample of the world’s scholars and organizational forms?” (Scott and Davis, p374).  This question was raised because for so long our knowledge of organizational theory was strictly based on American, Canadians and English scholarly work.  The immergence of the multinational company and globalization has required the study of a more diverse group of scholarly works on organizational theory.

The topic on the shift from unitary to multiparadigm discussed the topic of the acceptance of multiple paradigms by professionals that study organizations.  The complexity of paradigms originates from the wide range of disciplines that study organizations.  The list includes economists, sociologists, political scientists, and more.  The solutions to the complexity are just as complex and controversial as the paradigms themselves, but the reasoning for a multiparadigm are sound.  Canella and Paetzold make the argument that the “evolution of knowledge requires fuzzy boundaries and a tolerance (if not acceptance of) a plurality of paradigms” (1994: 332).  The idea makes sense and is partially supported by the progress made in areas where there is interdisciplinary work done.  The possibilities may be extremely beneficial for the field of organizational theory and may helps fill in blanks or put to rest faulty assumptions and problems with existing theories.

The idea of accepting and embracing diversity in internal organizational culture, paradigms, and international scholarly works in organizational theory holds many possibilities.  But like postmodernism being only an incomplete critic of modernism, multiparadigm and multicultural studies are only ideas now and the solutions to implement them as I said before as just as controversial as the theories and ideas that want to group together.


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