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Summary of W. Graham Astley

Summary of W. Graham Astley

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Published by Akshay Bhat

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Published by: Akshay Bhat on May 22, 2012
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Bhat, Akshay 1Submitted by: Akshay S Bhat,Guide: Dr. Munish ThakurAdvanced Research Methods
Summary on the 
 paper “Administrative Science as a Socially Constructed Truth” by W.
Graham Astley 
1. Introduction
The crux of why the paper is written is to acknowledge and address administrativescience as a subjective enterprise, as researchers hold on to different world views; they imposedifferent interpretations on data. This then entails that the knowledge that constitutesadministrative science is then a socially constructed product, Truth then, as per the author isdefined in terms of theoretical constructs
1
and conceptual vocabulary that mediate and guideresearch. The problem then is that we end up with theoretical language rather than objectivedata.Warriner et al. invited all scholars from the fields of administrative sciences informulating a list of operationalized and observable variables to describe organizations, so thatall the concerned stakeholders are then at a common footing, this was to counter the problemhow different sets of scientists had their own individual interpretations which was different fromthe other scientists studying the same organization.The conventional model of scientific progress views progress in terms of a conventionalaspect, for the model describes progress as a linear function, and that the knowledge basekeeps on increasing as new data is added on an existing set of data. Therefore aninconsistency in two scientists disagreeing on varied interpretations of the same data of anorganization impedes the growth of this field.In contrast to the conventional model, Astley states that the fields development is notcharacterized by an increased convergence of an understanding, but rather a divergence a fightbetween schools of thought adhering to and defending their own established paradigms.
1
Decree issued by an authority
 
Bhat, Akshay 2
2. The Subjective construction of truth
The author, Astley believes that we have some a priori sets of theoretical models andframeworks, and often, rather than approaching organizations as a set of unbiased observersand noting what the organization is doing, we let bias become a precursor and a set ofintentions are kept in minds as to what is supposed to be studied, And there is a role of theory inthis which again dictates as to what will be counted as a fact also.Since there is a lot of subjectivity into this approach, the facts consisting of ourknowledge are necessarily theory dependent. This then makes administrative science aninterpretive exercise, in which data is embedded through perception, rendering it more or less ofa story telling exercise.Astley then puts forth
Kuhn’s
2
view in which he talks about paradigm development andhow competing sets of schools compete for followers, and how inter rivalry amongst theseschools try to displace each other.Finally truth is that which the truth makers (here scientists decide) these are furtherstrengthened when some institution affixes its stamp of approval.
3. Language as a product of Research
Since we have appreciated and taken the view of Knowledge formation through anargumentative and a dialectic way, and stated that social negotiation leads to the same, thevehicle for this is the language;
it rather is a “linguistic convention”.
 Word systems then play an important role, word systems are then quintessentiallyscientific fields which are created and maintained through a process of negotiations betweenconflicting schools.
2
 
Paradigm Approach, won’t be covered in detail, see “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”
 
Bhat, Akshay 3Often the views here are highly negotiable. Since our knowledge structures are thenlinguistic conventions. Analytically skewed interpretations of the same empirical observation.
4. Linguistic Ability
The above statements then force us to believe that Language rather than objective factis the chief product of research; on the other hand empirically inconsistent language leads totheorizing.Linguistic ambiguity then forces us with climbing and descending the ladder ofabstraction, sometimes this is farthest removed from reality as to what was observed empiricallyleading to the formation of explicit hypothesis.But not all approaches exert a disproportionate influence; Linguistic ability enhances thepragmatic value of administrative theory, while empirical precision only diminishes itsapplicability. All this is analogous to concept stretching and concept travelling.
5. The role of Imagery
As Astley puts it
“The abstraction of theoretical language from empirical reality is
nowhere better demonstrated than in the use of compelling visual imagery that requires the audience to join the author in a kind of make- 
believe” 
 
Sometimes the theorists move into fictional constructs and imaginative aspects for whichno empirical counterpart exist, sometimes there are works of scientists which are not empiricalphenomena into taxonomical categories, but intentional fictionalization of the reality underexamination, which includes the theorists sense of logical aesthetics.But it is also stated herein that creative imagery is important, crystallizing theory inimages is what captures scientific imagination and not bare fact reporting, often purelytheoretical works have gained acclaim over purely empirical research.
6. Theoretical Traditions and Iconoclasm

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