Actionable Knowledge

Chris Argyris

in The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199275250
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 Actionable Knowledge

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Knowledge Management


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The focus of this article is upon producing actionable knowledge. Propositions that are actionable are those that actors can use to implement effectively their intentions. Actionable knowledge requires propositions that make explicit the causal processes required to produce action. Causality is the key in implementation. One of the most powerful inhibitors of effective action is inner contradictions. Inner contradictions exist when the propositions to act are implemented correctly. One cause of inner contradiction is the methodologies used by most normal social scientists to discover problems and to invent solutions. These features cause the degree of seamlessness and the validity of the implementation to be reduced. The focus on describing reality in ways that satisfies the requirements of internal and external validity makes it less likely that attention is paid to the implementable validity of the propositions. This, in turn, leads to propositions that are abstract and disconnected from implementable action.

Keywords: actionable knowledge; causality; inner contradictions; social scientists; implementable validity

Article.  12122 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Knowledge Management

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