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Title: Knowledge games : the achievement of ignorance in managing Olympic and Commonwealth mega-events
Author: Stewart, Allison D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 1114
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The concept of ignorance has been unfairly stigmatised in research and practice, and consequently has not received the attention it deserves as a powerful motivator of behaviour in organisations. To understand the role of ignorance, it must be examined as a productive force rather than a shameful weakness, an achievement instead of a failure. This thesis develops an understanding of how ignorance is achieved and why it is perpetuated in the context of managing the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, a series of worldwide mega-events that are popular with proponents of urban development, but which have experienced persistent organisational problems in the form of cost overruns, schedule delays, and scope creep. To do so, this research draws on literature about ignorance from the disciplines of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and organisational theory, to motivate an embedded case study of Games Organising Committees (OCs) in six host cities around the world. These OCs, which were actively planning the Games during the research, are studied through qualitative research, to develop a dynamic understanding of the role of ignorance in planning the Games. The findings and analysis are presented from two perspectives: the structure of the ‘Games system’ and of the OC; and, the substance of Games planning in the areas of cost, time and scope. While other studies have focused on ignorance as necessary, strategic, and inadvertent, the original contribution to knowledge of this thesis is the proposal of a theoretical framework that focuses on the functional and detrimental outcomes of ignorance. This framework is also shown to be useful in understanding why ignorance persists between organisations, and suggests three basic principles for further research: ignorance as a productive force in management; structure as a scaffold for ignorance; and budget, time and scope as catalysts for ignorance.
Supervisor: Rayner, Steve; Flyvbjerg, Bent Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business and Management ; Organisational behaviour ; Operations management ; Management ; Olympic Games ; Commonwealth Games ; Ignorance ; Knowledge ; Project Management ; Megaprojects