Profile & Philo-Sofi
Within the triangle of strategy, organization and financing, the Chair for Strategic Organization & Financing (SOFI) attempts to describe and open for discussion the main challenges and implications of management in the framework of the social developments. These developments affect the
societies based on knowledge,
of (1) small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), of (2) publicly-owned groups, as well as of (3) public administrations. The aim of SOFI is on the one hand to empirically analyze and reflect on surface phenomena of the management-philosophical Zeitgeist on the one hand and to make the deep structures of private as well as public organizations observable by model-theoretical considerations on the other hand.
The chair has three main characteristics:
(1) Interdisciplinarity in Business Administration:
One decisive aspect of the work at the chair is the interconnectedness of the three forms of intervention, i.e. strategy, organization, and financing that have a very different theoretical and empirical basis, but that the top decision-maker has to think of simultaneously. So far, business administration in its functional differentiation has only made a limited contribution to the complex, multidisciplinary problem descriptions and solutions.
(2) Target Group Versioning for Organized Social Systems in the Private Sector as well as in the State and in Markets:
Furthermore, the focus of study is on the interplay between private organizations, markets, and public organizations. At the beginning of the 20th century, the science of public administration was the basis for the organizational theory of business administration that developed later. Today, its re-imports, which partly seem under-complex, are tried in the science of public administration as well.
SOFI will analyze the organized social systems, both in the private sector and the state, as well as the interactive systems of industry-specific markets as objects of study. Thus, also educational, cultural or political markets become observable and are studied regarding their intrinsic differences concerning social systems as they affect the organization.
(3) Business Administration and Management Theory Based on the Theory of Communication:
Today, organization mainly means the "organization of communication": communication in one’s own organization, into the value chain, into markets, networks, and politics. The management theory resulting from these analyses is radically based on a powerful theory of communication that integrates constructivistic, cybernetic, system-theoretical, as well as cognition-and media-theoretical aspects. This plays a central role in the teaching and research of the chair and takes the system-theoretical realization into account that organized social systems reproduce through the specific communication of "decision". The aspects of communication are becoming more interesting – academically as well as practically – when they deal with the balancing of interaction between organizations or other social systems (e.g. business, art, media, science or politics) that work with different system inherent codes (inter- and extra-systemic networks). One phenomenon that can be named is the cooperation between the private sector and public authorities, e.g. in public private partnerships.
In addition to this there is the organizational communication with markets (consumer, producer and finance markets) with their specific communicative form of “payment”. The specific transfer and representation in the media of interventions that are strategic, organizational, or related to financing require an analysis of existing theories and concepts regarding a sought-after market understanding. In this context the communication in capital markets should be mentioned as an example which - in highly differentiated communication models - transfers the future yields of new strategies, forms of organization or financing decisions. So-called industry recipes can already be recognized as strategic recipes that are industry-specific and geared towards the capital market such as bancassurance, media convergence or multi utility. The topic of risk (risk management, Basle II), as well as that of control (corporate governance) are also issues that can only be understood in this triangle of strategy, organization, and financing with a foundation in communication theory. The theoretical understanding of the organization of production that has been in existence for approximately one century is supplemented or replaced by the organization of communication – towards the value added partner to monitor the externally rendered services, towards the financial markets to refinance, towards the customers or citizens and groups of lobbyists to win re-election and cover topics, towards the media, towards markets for top decision makers, etc. The representation of people, topics, products, cooperations etc. in the media is becoming one of the main tasks of organized systems in dynamic, i.e. intensively observed environments.
Communication and its interpretation simultaneously integrate the observer as a figure into the theory – one of the major discoveries of the last century in sociology, philosophy, anthropology, as well as psychology that is now slowly reaching the theory of economics and politics. The observer is not to be thought of mainly personally or institutionally, but first of all functionally as a reminder of non-causality, ambiguity, and probability of the misunderstanding of communication. This also highlights one problem area of business administration and administrative science: the assumption of rationality. We need a new management theory!
Sustainable organizations are organizations that master oscillations in their paradoxes, in short, organizations that are oscillodox. The average lifetime of companies is less than 20 years. Sustainability of management theories: oscillations in paradoxes.
Strategic organizations are oscillodox!
They oscillate with virtuosity in indissoluble paradoxes.
However: Oscillodox organizations also need a complex and virtuosic theory.
Sustainable organizational theories have to refer to both the short lifetime of organizations and the dark side of this "constructive destruction", as well as to the paradoxes of organizational practice. And this with the appropriate variety, empiricism and theoretical surplus and not with disciplinary focusing.
Thus the chair sees itself as a critical companion of management fashions and will resist the temptation to confuse research findings with the truth. As early as 1946, the organizational theorist Herbert Simon analyzed so-called "Proverbs of Administration" that reveal the “dilemma” of paradox in organizational theory:
"For almost every principle one can find an equally plausible and acceptable contradictory principle. Although the two principles of the pair will lead to exactly opposite organizational recommendations, there is nothing in the theory to indicate which is the proper one to apply."
"Proverbs of Administration" (Simon 1946)
(source: Public Administration Review, 6, p. 53).
On the one hand, the chair sees its task in the firstly empirical and then model-theoretical research of questions of strategy, organization, and financing – together with the practice – that are practically relevant and academically challenging. On the other hand, the establishing of a business and administrative science based on the theory of communication is to be achieved in the next ten years, relating to relevant markets, which is to become discussable using empirical analyses, as well as various (unrelated) theoretical resources.