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Knowledge, Organization, and ManagementBuilding on the Work of Max Boisot$
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John Child and Martin Ihrig

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669165

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669165.001.0001

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The Three Phases of Max Boisot’s Theorizing

The Three Phases of Max Boisot’s Theorizing

(p.205) 13 The Three Phases of Max Boisot’s Theorizing
Knowledge, Organization, and Management

John-Christopher Spender

Oxford University Press

Max’s PhD re-framed Weber’s (and Needham’s) classic question of why China failed to generate an industrial revolution in a remarkably novel way. His codification-diffusion matrix suggested Western economic institutions were better able to generate, manage, and apply their knowledge assets - the key driver. Notably, Max attacked Williamson’s markets and hierarchy thesis for his failure to consider federation as a third viable mode of institutional knowledge governance. In his second phase Max explored institutional contrasts between China and the West empirically and the codification-diffusion matrix evolved a third epistemological dimension - abstraction - to become the I-Space. In his third phase, drawing again on French thermodynamics and entropy theory, Max probed the I-Space’s self-regulating and self-organizing properties. Thus his thinking eventually returned to the complexity theory approach anticipated in his PhD. Finally these three phases formed the supporting arc of an entirely novel knowledge-based view of organizing.

Keywords:   Knowledge Asset, Codification, Diffusion, Abstraction, Self-organization

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