Pragmatism and Management Inquiry

Insights from the Thought of Charles S. Peirce

by Juan Fontrodona


A cool, lucid examination of the thought of the American philosopher Charles S. Peirce, offering an important clarification and an innovative way to view human actions and the way management is practiced.

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February 2002


Pages 232
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Business/Management
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Good managers do not simply get things done—they do the right things. They are ethical. Through an examination of the work of Charles S. Peirce, the American philosopher who coined the term pragmatism in 1872, Fontrodona emerges with important clarifications, as well as an innovative view of human action and the practice of management. Pragmatism, often misunderstood as a triumph of pure effectiveness, is actually a process by which people, through action, reveal and develop themselves using virtue and value.

In Part I, Fontrodona considers human action not only from the viewpoint of its effectiveness, but also from its purposefulness. In Part II, the study turns to Peirce's thought about the nature of science, which shows us that while management is eminently practical, it is also based on a scientific approach. Part III presents three principles for human action drawn from the three normative sciences: creativity based on logic; community based on ethics; and character based on aesthetics. Finally, Fontrodona questions the presence of these principles in the commonly accepted, current models of management.

Table of Contents

ForewordPrologue of the Spanish EditionIntroductionHuman Action in the Thought of Charles S. PeirceCharles S. Peirce: A Life Devoted to ScienceThe Triadic Conception of Human ActionThe World in Which Man ActsThe Task of Knowing and Interpreting the WorldThe Scientific Character of ManagementThe Decision-Making ProcessDecision Criteria in ManagementThe Synthetical Character of ManagementThe Scientific Attitude in ManagementThree Principles for ManagementCreativity, the Logical Priciple of ActionCommunity, the Ethical Priciple of ActionCharacter, the Esthetic Priciple of ActionEpilogue for Entrepreneurs: A Challenge for the 21st CenturyReferencesIndex



Those willing to discover the nature of management at a very theoretical level should be forewarned: this book is 80 percent about Peirce's pragmatic philosophy of human action, intelligent problem solving, and the principles of scientific inquiry. But having mastered that pragmatic perspective, what a world is opened to view! The rest of this book is a provocative exploration of central issues in management science. Most important, it locates moral decision making at the heart of organizational theory. Recommended for libraries maintaining business and management collections; upper-division undergraduates through practitioners.—Choice

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