Title: Who needs contingency approaches and guidelines in order to adapt vague management ideas?

Authors: Anders Ortenblad

Addresses: Gotland University, Sweden

Abstract: The purpose of this conceptual paper is to question the assumption that the general idea of the learning organisation needs to be adapted to the specific context before it can be put into practical use. It is suggested that there are lots of ways to use management ideas, other than implementing them in the practice of organisations. It is further suggested that managers have different reasons for taking an interest in management ideas. Five ideal types of users are suggested: absorbers, innovators, legitimators, seducers and patchers. It is argued that the absorber is the only ideal type that would really be helped by adaptation guidelines. Therefore, the need for such guidelines could be questioned. However, adaptation guidelines could also be of use to other people than managers – it is suggested that other stakeholders, especially employees, could gain from contingency models and adaptation guidelines, since these clarify the ideas as well as threats and opportunities which they are associated with.

Keywords: absorbers; adaptation; contingency models; idea users; innovators; learning organisations; legitimator; legitimisation; management idea; management fashion; organisational learning; patchers; seducers.

DOI: 10.1504/IJLC.2010.030172

International Journal of Learning and Change, 2010 Vol.4 No.1, pp.64 - 76

Published online: 11 Dec 2009 *

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