Pragmatism and Management Inquiry: Insights from the Thought of Charles S. Peirce

By Juan Fontrodona | Go to book overview

Prolog to the Spanish Edition

What can a philosopher say about the theory and practice of management? And what does a philosopher, Juan Fontrodona, have to say about what another philosopher, Charles S. Peirce, says about management?

There is much to say, of course. I would venture to say that studying management is vital for understanding human action. Indeed, management is a paradigm of human action. If we seek to understand how human beings act, we will have to talk about purposes and motives, expected consequences or effects, rationality. And where can these elements be found with greater clearness than in management decisions? The manager has certain very clear ends in his or her action; he or she moves with a particular rationality, looks for certain results, develops a specific methodology.

If we can understand how the manager decides, we will understand much better what decision in general, that is, human action, consists of. This is because the manager acts to achieve an immediate result that, at the same time, does not compromise his or her future decisions.

Action thus links with behavior—a relation that has an important place in Peirce’s work—such that the manager seeks to create in the company the right conditions so that his or her future actions can continue to be optimal. This is because decision making in the company does not consist of performing isolated actions.

Is it therefore necessary to coordinate commercial decisions with strategic, production, financial, and human management decisions? Yes it is, and much more than that: each action must contribute to the creation of a body of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values, both in the decision maker and

-xi-

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