Part 6

CHAPTER 21  - REVIEW - Foundations of Logic and Theory

The theory and disciplines of logic and their formal interpretation and application are subjects that we rarely find in management or its teaching. Management and business schools tend to assume by default that quantitative methods, in particular mathematics – especially arithmetic, and statistics are the most appropriate disciplines. One of the first concepts to question is whether we can simply apply numerical methods to analyse resources and solve management problems. It is clear that we can not. Two apples plus two elephants do not equal anything. Both apples and elephants are pretty obvious resources, but any arithmetic we attempt to perform on them is unlikely to make much sense.

In this chapter we have looked at the foundations on which logical methodology is based and attempted to widen the horizons within which logical evaluation can consciously be made. We have also seen the severe limitations of strictly logical methodology as a basis for decision making. However, the important thing that we can derive from these observations is that we often may think that our decision making is logical, simply because we have applied some sort of arithmetic, accountancy techniques, or more sophisticated mathematical methodology. In reality these techniques generally provide answers which satisfy one set of mathematical rules, but may be both irrational and inappropriate as the best basis for management decisions. In particular, we may assume causation between activities and events, and as a result believe we can confidently forecast outcomes.

We often assume on the basis of our experience that what has occurred in the past is likely to continue in the future. The ‘Col. Chutney-Smythe’ beliefs of causation are widespread throughout many parts of corporate and institutional management.What we have been trying to do in this chapter is to take the first exploratory steps in seeking a better way of providing a sound foundation for professional management.

We also tend to assume that everyone interprets English words in precisely the same way. In reality many common words that describe concepts contain ambiguities in their meaning. Failure to recognise these ambiguities, some of which may be employed deliberately, is frequently a recipe for future conflict and dispute. These are pitfalls of which we should be constantly aware, and of which an appreciation of logic can help us avoid.

Colonel Chutney-Smythe used to ride his elephant through the jungle every week. He always threw his copy of the Times newspaper into the jungle in order to frighten away man-eating tigers. His elephant-driver told him that there were no man-eating tigers in the jungle. The colonel patiently explained that was only because he threw his newspaper into the jungle every week.

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