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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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Situational rationality

Situational rationality

(p.132) 7 Situational rationality
Reason's Neglect

Barbara Townley

Oxford University Press

A situational rationality takes issue with the temporal dimension of rational action, the assumption that behaviour is foresightful and that rationality occurs in advance of action. A situational rationality recognizes that action is retrospectively rational. It is the product of action, occurring either concurrently or after, rather than before, action. This is not, however, to assume an ex post facto, retrospective rationalization of events. The second facet of a situational rationality is, as its name implies, the importance of its ‘situatedness’, the situated nature of social action. Rationality is an ongoing accomplishment, achieved through interaction with people and objects in a particular time and setting. A situational rationality is the temporally and spatially located sequential and interactional rationality of daily life. This chapter traces the various dimensions of a situational rationality and how they inform our understanding of organizational action.

Keywords:   rational action, social action, organizational action, situated action, situated knowledge

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