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.
Introduction The aim of this article is to investigate the implications of a general theory of complexity for social institutions and organizations, such as business corporations. Complexity theory has implications for the way we conceive of the structure of an organization, as well as for the way in which complex organizations should be managed. However, […]