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Organizational and Managerial Wisdom An excerpt from the introduction of Understanding, Applying, and Developing Organizational and Managerial Wisdom by Eric H. Kessler, PhD, Professor of Management and Management Science, and James R. Bailey

The daily lives of most of us are full of things that keep us very busy and preoccupied. But every now and then we find ourselves drawing back and wondering what it’s all about. And then, perhaps, we may start asking fundamental questions that normally we do not stop to ask. . . . This can happen with regard to any aspect of life. . . . People can subject any field of human activity to fundamental questioning like this . . . which is a way of saying that there can be a philosophy of anything.—Bryan MaGee, 1998

Philosophy is essentially the completion of science in the synthesis of wisdom.
—Will Durant, 1961

Wisdom is among the most complex and profound concepts in our vernacular. It represents the epitome of human development and conduct yet remains stubbornly enigmatic. Notwithstanding this duality—or perhaps as a result of it—wisdom has been the subject of constant inquiry across every age of our history and every culture of our construction. It characterizes the most enlightened and successful people and collectives. Philosophers and religious thinkers, scientists and scholars, and authors and artists alike have attempted to crystallize its character. Yet wisdom defies a universally accepted definition or comprehensively applicable model. Thus, one might rightly conclude that there is nothing as simultaneously important and mysterious as wisdom.

In this handbook, we examine wisdom as applied to the ubiquitous social structure of the organization and its management. This is no small undertaking given that one would be hard-pressed to conceive of human life untouched by formal organizations, the proper stewardship of which forms the academic and professional fields of management and where rigorous treatment of wisdom is just beginning to emerge. Whereas wisdom is frequently alluded to, indirectly referenced, or casually conceived in this growing area, our charge here is to progress meaningfully toward a systematic and deep consideration of its application to professional pursuits. Toward this end, we have commissioned some of the brightest minds in the field to confront the problem of defining what organizational and managerial wisdom (OMW) is, how to best apply it, and how to develop it. The contributions herein are profound and well intentioned, but our objective is not to put the issue to rest. To the contrary, the content of this handbook represents less a conclusion than an introduction, less a final word than an opening argument, and less a comprehensive model than a structured exploration.

None of us would be so bold (or unwise) as to claim an exclusive channel into the ideal of OMW, but together we seek to construct what it might look like.


organizational wisdome, managerial wisdom, Eric H. Kessler, James R Bailey