The Epistemology of Practice: A Practice Session -- Linda Klonsky
The complexity of organizational life in the 21st century requires innovative management education incorporating pedagogy to broaden and integrate students' self-knowledge, reflection-in-action, and knowledge-of-other. Whether working in the formal or informal global economy, managers and leaders not only need to recognize the cultural diversity embedded in these systems, but deeply understand that people bring their diverse ways of knowing into daily practice. This emergent challenge calls for overturning traditional definitions of what counts as knowledge and requires teaching ideas and practices that help students explore new epistemological perspectives. Experiential learning that explores the epistemology of practice advances a â€œcritical consciousness... through shared experience, dialogue, [and] feedback (Heron & Reason, 1997), while focusing on tacit knowledge, critical reflection, and mastery (Raelin 2007). This PDW should be of interest to management educators, leadership practitioners, and researchers intrigued with post-modern epistemological thinking. Epistemology, the study of knowledge, has traditionally been regarded as an intellectual endeavor in text-based curricula of the philosophy of research. Within the last decade, Dirkx (2008), Johnson & Duberly (2000), Raelin (2007, 2009), Yorks (2005) and others have advocated for an epistemology of practice, the study and acquisition of knowledge arising from reflection and action. This PDW demonstrates the use of an experiential learning methodology for the teaching of epistemology of practice. The aim of this educational experience in management education is to imprint the importance of 1) self-reflection on assumptions and actions, 2) co-inquiry, and 3) recognition of self/others as knowers. Moving the study of epistemology into the realm of live action enhances the practice of future managers and leaders as they engage with organizations in the informal and formal global economy.
This PDW is designed to engage participants in a highly interactive process utilizing an experiential activity, entitled "Going to a Meeting." During the two hour session, self-selected volunteers and observers participate in and debrief the exercise, connect the activity to the epistemology of practice as well as discuss implications in the workplace. Discussion will also include curricular follow-up to this activity. Key points of the conversation will focus on inquiry into the various forms of knowing that emerge from action/practice and these epistemological impacts on the global formal and informal economy.