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Rationality and Technology

The core of technology is repeatability. Equal input, equal output. The starter motor starts the engine, not the windscreen wiper. Large parts of organisational theory rest upon the fact that organisations allow themselves to be technologized. They are understood one-dimensionally as cause-effect chains. Now, it is undisputed that one can observe organisations in this way. One prepares them in such a way that they are similar to trivial machines. This is indispensable and a pre-requisite for organisations. The insecure and open future is reduced to the aspired goals and purposes.

What is lost with the technical form of shaping the present and the future? To guarantee repeatability, one must calculate. Formulae ensure that with equal initial values equal end values are produced. Thus, contingency is erased. One knows the way from A to B (and ‘forgets’ that one could also have stopped at C and landed at D). Hence, inevitably, control rules in the organisation. Sometimes everything is controlled.

Anything uncontrollable is, as a consequence, seen as rather suspicious or best erased. Deviations become a problem. That, which is thus excluded, e.g. the variety of possibilities, coincidence, surprises, the unexpected, unknown, disruptive, then become an innovation problem, and returns to the organisation as fire-fighting, as a disturbance, a mistake, as disadvantaged interests, as the overlooked. Because not everything which occurs can be made repeatable and technologized, creativity, innovation, contradictions, conflicts of interest, emotions, motivation, intuition, empirical knowledge and much more are then threatened to be felled under the verdict of ‘irrational’. For the handling of complexity, though, it requires both: observing rational and irrational forms, deciding and acting.