Looking at the management sciences through the lens of autopoietic theory
The broad aim of this research has been to employ the various propositions of Humberto Maturana, as derived from his and Francisco Varela's central concept 'Autopoiesis', as a lens or frame through which to critically reflect on both Management Science and major traditions within it. Such reflection has been carried out with both a 'critical' and a 'developmental eye'. From a critical standpoint the research identifies gaps in existing understandings, and suggests ways in which these may be plugged. Used in this mode, the research shows that Autopoietic Theory is a body of knowledge that management scientists, especially inexperienced ones, can turn to as a means of enriching and/or enhancing their practice in distinctive ways, or allowing them to better prepare for it. Used from a developmental standpoint, the research shows how Maturana's epistemological propositions invoke a particular kind of critically reflective Management Science practice, and, how Autopoietic Theory more generally, can stretch the limits of existing practice. In developing these lines of argumentation the main contribution of the work is to remind members of the various Management Science communities that theirs is an activity that is carried out by real human beings first and by impartial scientists second; moreover, that Management Science is an activity that takes place in human, social and organisational contexts. Acknowledgement of this has far reaching ramifications. In that regard, the main contribution of the research can be taken to be an argument in favour of repositioning 'humanity', in all its various facets, much more centrally within the discipline than has been the case hitherto.