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July 23, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

What are the applications of post-modernism to business, life, and academia

I think post-modern ideas are trickling into academia and academic research. I think you can see that in the following 5 areas:

1) Organizational studies (decentralization, critique of bureaucracy, systems theory, and learning organization)
2) Leadership (Situational specific leadership)
3) Psychology (I think this field is uniquely post-modern to the extent that it attempts to focus on subjectivity and to the extent it tries to apply different frames of thinking)
4) Law (there are various identity movements: particularly race, feminism, priviledge, and disability which have been integrated at least in law reviews)
5) Business and Entrepreneurship (more de-centralized organizations–probably toward a balance between the two, systems theory, and co-creation of products–moving toward open forms of innovation)

I think by its nature, though, post-modernism can’t create a “theory that explains everything” because it almost implicitly says–but everyone has a different opinion, experience, perspective).

I think there is a distinction which can be brought between thinking about post-modernism as acting like a tool (providing possible insights) and it being a solution. It probably works decently as a tool, but not particularly well as a solution. As a solution (or fundamentalism) it has a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And in the case of modernity–it is a baby that has presumably had empirical victories in certain areas.

So for instance, it helps to test and refine with the tool of post-modernism in the same way you might do for science or that you would do with a lean startup.

Post-modernism may be most at home–in language, identity, conventions, bureaucracies, and institutions–particularly those institutions that tend to treat one-size fits all solution or have otherwise ossified. So for instance these questions seem relevant: How do universal rules affect or implicate group identity? Or how does group identity affect our experience of a particularly policy or institution?

* I labeled systems theory as a post-modern one and I don’t think it has to be. But I think that looking at something from an organic, complex, and nuanced perspective can lead you in the direction of post-modern thoughts.

** I should also point out that why identity theories have post-modern concepts in the way they examine universals and institutions–that post-modernism itself calls identity into question as a stable idea or concept.

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