Purpose – To argue that the epistemology of the strategic literature is dominated by a Modernist (scientific) and Cybernetic system approach and that other epistemological options especially Critical Management Studies and Complex Self-adapting Systems, might provide greater insight for strategic thinking.
Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.
Findings – The current dominant way of thinking about management are based on closed system notions of causality in which good enough long-term prediction is possible. The process PLOC (French, 2009a) depends totally on this foundation. If a system’s long-term behaviour is unpredictable, then using the PLOC model is questionable. In the current turbulent business environment long-term prediction may not be possible.
Practical implications – The life expectancy of a firm is only 40 years (Stacy, 2000a). Using closed system concepts to drive businesses to the equilibrium of a business plan may be killing the business, because a Complex Self-adapting System in equilibrium is dead.
Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.
Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Epistemology, Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Frankfurt School, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.