What knowledge is useful?
Professor George C. Lodge on reality
You know, the word “research” means so many different things to different people. Chris Christensen, I think, uses the word “search.” And really, that’s a more accurate term to describe my work than the glorification by research.
But my idea of search is to go out and look at what’s happening. What’s happening is very complicated. Our contribution I think is in finding some relatively simple concepts, simple but valid, which we can use to help managers do their job better in what is great complexity. So we are simplifiers. Hopefully we are sufficiently profound simplifiers, that we are not over-simplifiers.
But you take—out of my work has come two very simple notions—authority and competence. Where’s the authority? Where is the competence in a particular situation? In many circumstances today, we find that government has the authority, but not the competence. Business has the competence, but not the authority. How do you put the two of them together?
Now, that’s a very simple conception of an enormously complicated set of phenomena, which is useful for teaching. So I think as opposed to other places, this place encourages people to go out and look at the reality, and then try to find ways of simplifying it conceptually so that we can teach about it.