Rationality, foolishness, and adaptive intelligence
Article first published online: 27 JAN 2006
Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic Management Journal
Volume 27, Issue 3, pages 201–214, March 2006
How to Cite
March, J. G. (2006), Rationality, foolishness, and adaptive intelligence. Strat. Mgmt. J., 27: 201–214. doi: 10.1002/smj.515
- Issue published online: 27 JAN 2006
- Article first published online: 27 JAN 2006
- Manuscript Revised: 22 JUL 2005
- Manuscript Received: 30 AUG 2004
Technologies of model-based rationality are the core technologies of strategic management, having largely replaced earlier technologies that placed greater reliance on traditional practice or on communication either with the stars or with the gods. The technologies used by organizations in their pursuit of intelligence can be imagined to change over time as a result of responding to the successes and failures associated with the technologies. Although technologies of rationality seem clearly to be effective instruments of exploitation in relatively simple situations and to derive their adaptive advantage from those capabilities, their ventures in more complex explorations seem often to lead to huge mistakes and thus unlikely to be sustained by adaptive processes. Whether their survival as instruments of exploratory novelty in complex situations is desirable is a difficult question to answer, but it seems likely that any such survival may require hitchhiking on their successes in simpler worlds. Survival may also be served by the heroism of fools and the blindness of true believers. Their imperviousness to feedback is both the despair of adaptive intelligence and, conceivably, its salvation. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.