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Reason's NeglectRationality and Organizing$
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Barbara Townley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199298358

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298358.001.0001

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Technocratic rationality

Technocratic rationality

(p.66) 4 Technocratic rationality
Reason's Neglect

Barbara Townley

Oxford University Press

The link between rationality, knowledge, and causality introduces the third aspect of a disembedded rationality, that which speaks to the concept of causality embedded in rational action. Where ends are uncontentious and means well defined, that is, cause-effect or means-end relationships are well understood, rational action is the adoption of technically rational means or solutions to achieve desired ends. Where ends are not well defined and well understood, or means are not apparent, technically rational action is not possible. Most organizational issues involve either a degree of contention over ends, or means that are not well defined. Hence the reference to a technocratic rationality. Technocratic denotes the application of technical means to areas as if cause and effect relationships are well established and technically rational action is possible. Technocratic rationality is the presumption or fabrication of means-end relationships. This chapter outlines how the technical has been portrayed in organization studies and the ease of its transformation into the technocratic.

Keywords:   technology, organization, embedded rationality, causality, rational action

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