Production and consumption in organizational knowledge: The case of the 'paradigms debate'

John Hassard, Mihaela Kelemen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent debates on the production of knowledge in organizational analysis are interpreted from a largely postmodernist, 'sociology of consumption' perspective. Drawing upon the work of Jean-François Lyotard, Michel de Certeau and Stanley Deetz in particular, the analysis rejects both positivist and conventionalist theses on knowledge production in favour of a deconstructionist approach that embraces acts of production and consumption in a reflexive way. The argument is developed by way of a case study of production and consumption in organizational analysis. Through an assessment of scientific status and institutional control - centrally in relation to the 'paradigm incommen-surability' debate - a taxonomy of styles of knowledge production and consumption is proposed. Five main 'camps' comprise this taxonomy - non-consumers, integrationists, protectionists, pluralists and postmodernists. We describe the basic knowledge philosophies of the camps and subject them to evaluation and critique. This analysis sees, inter alia, Jeffrey Pfeffer's proposals for producing an integrated knowledge paradigm for organizational analysis - the so-called 'Pfefferdigm' thesis - confounded by the indeterminate rationalities and networks of signification of postmodern analysis. For explaining processes of knowledge production and consumption, it is argued ultimately that the notion of 'discourse' should replace that of 'paradigm'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-355
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


  • Discourse
  • Organization theory
  • Paradigms
  • Production


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