Leadership and management are increasingly expected to base themselves on evidence, i.e. knowledge. This article does not disagree that knowledge may be beneficial. Yet, based on sociological insights on the complex relation between knowledge and ignorance, the article argues that more knowledge does not lead to less ignorance or non-knowledge. Building on Luhmann’s systems-theoretical concept of knowledge as selecting structures which reduce complexity, the article outlines a different approach to ignorance in management and leadership. It raises the question what an intelligent approach to ignorance looks like. Inspired by Foucault’s historical analysis of the emergence of liberal ideas of government, the article argues that managerial self-limitation is crucial in the development of a ‘management of non-knowledge’ to complement evidence based management.
Institution: Copenhagen Business School
Morten Knudsen is an Associate Professor at Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. His research interests focus on emergence and dissolution of organizational systems, politics of (dis)connectivity, social production of ignorance, the relations between management education and organizational practice, limits of steering and methodological issues in organization and management research. Together with Werner Vogd he has recently published the edited volume Systems Theory and the Sociology of Health and Illness: Observing Healthcare, Routledge 2015.