Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Developing a Framework of Reflective, Intuitive Knowing in Innovation Management

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Developing a Framework of Reflective, Intuitive Knowing in Innovation Management

Article excerpt


The terms reflection and intuition are conspicuously prominent and dominant in management research. In a variety of ways these concepts occur in numerous contexts including management research on decision-making processes (March & Simon, 1966), sense-making (Weick, 1979), information processing (Simon, 1979), learning cycle (Kolb, 1984), reflective practitioner (Schön, 1983), mindfulness (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001), experiential learning (Korthagen, 2005), expert intuition management (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986). More specifically, 'reflection' and 'intuition' are ambiguous terms and there is an unclear relationship between them when applied to tacit knowledge and innovation management literature. As 'intuition' is inherently non-verbalizable in expert management decisions (Dreyfus & Dreyfus 1986) and tacit knowing (Baumard, 1999; Boisot, 1995; Davenport & Prusak, 1998) and 'reflection' is almost impossible (i.e., Kroksmark & Johansen, 2003) or very difficult to achieve in instant practice (van Manen, 2008; Schön, 1983), there seems to be little space left for other perspectives which can link intuition and reflection in a more dialogical and intertwined way.

One of the dominant ways of dealing with ambiguous phenomena in management knowledge/knowing is undertaken by separation and differentiation. For example, the personal, context-bound and dynamic definition of knowledge is often allocated to categories labeled 'implicit', 'tacit and 'intuitive' whereas the impersonal, context-free and static side is allocated to a categories labeled 'explicit', 'analytical' and 'reflective' (Tsoukas, 2003; Stacey, 2001; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). It may be argued that this differentiation is supportive as long as the theoretical and empirical results are not presented in an additive manner. A way to address such a dualistic and dichotomized view is to consider the contradictory meanings simultaneously. This is what Bakhtin (1986) calls loopholes. Loopholes may help to embrace the way reality is perceived in "the form of still latent, unmuttered future work" (Bakhtin, 1984: 90). As a condition and attitude, this unsolvable solution is attractive, and can justify the motivation behind this paper. This motivation challenges the tacit/intuitive-explicit/reflective knowledge dichotomies which tend to leave out all the shades of gray in between.

It is possible that this kind of dichotomized logic, like a colonizing impulse, exercises an excessive influence on our view of what 'good management' ought to be. This dichotomized logic is supported by the fact that our society places considerable emphasis on rationality and efficiency. This means that analytical assessments and (detached) reflection often receive more attention than personal commitment and embodied intuitive skills (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986; MacIntyre, 1985; Toulmin, 2001). There is reason to believe that this colonizing impulse derives some of its legitimacy from a dichotomized view of reflection and intuition.

If this suggestion is correct, there are grounds to find an alternative framework which can stem from the shades of gray and loopholes.

A conceptual framework of 'reflective-intuitive-knowing' (R-I-K) as a knowledgemaking process is presented from these shades of gray. This links the distinct reflective and intuitive forms of knowledge. The framework proposes a (radical) challenge with regard to a new (R-I-K) conceptualization of 'here and now' management practice partly based on the two forms of knowledge which traditionally have been dichotomized. In short, either when an (unexpected) problem occurs in the managerial 'here and now' situation or that a situation demands an answer. This means that (expert) managers deploy reflective intuition (R-I) by their intuitive grasp/awareness and simultaneous reflection during the course of the situation which guides further action, or they reframe the problem and modify on-going practice in such a way that managerial knowing enables good decisions to be made. …

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