From Blue Sky Research to Problem Solving: A Philosophy of Science Theory of New Knowledge Production

Time, Date, Venue

Friday, 28 January 2011, 15.00-16.30 University College London

1st floor Exec-ed room, Engineering Front Building
("Malet place" in Google maps)


What do Google, Apple Computer, Linux, and Greenpeace have in common? They are all innovators in the production of new knowledge, but they pursue different aims, employ different methods, and evaluate success differently. To organize research concerning new knowledge production across the wide range of organizational forms, this paper asks two
questions concerning scientific assumptions employed in the cores of organizations. First, is it assumed that science gets closer and closer to the truth? Second, is it assumed that scientific theories represent reality? Depending upon the answers to these questions, there are four different philosophical stances and associated logics of action that justify and organize new knowledge production: a structural realist pursuit of pure research, a foundationalist search for hidden patterns through induction, an instrumentalist, truth-independent, focus on problem solving, and a strong paradigm facilitation of knowledge exploitation. The paper discusses the kinds of knowledge produced, the indicators of progress, the characteristic methods, exemplar organizations, and ways in which logics are combined and diffused.