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Journal cover: International Journal of Organizational Analysis

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Online from: 1993

Subject Area: Organization Studies

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Reviving organisational memetics through Cultural Linnæanism

Document Information:
Title:Reviving organisational memetics through Cultural Linnæanism
Author(s):Andrew Sinclair Lord, (Wildfire Hypermedia, Sheffield, UK)
Citation:Andrew Sinclair Lord, (2012) "Reviving organisational memetics through Cultural Linnæanism", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 20 Iss: 3, pp.349 - 370
Keywords:Culture, Culture (sociology), Hermeneutics, Linnæanism, Memetics, Methodology, Organizations, Taxonomy
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/19348831211254143 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The initial purpose of this paper is to review the explanatory power that memetics promised for socio-cultural evolutionary theory, for organisational adaptation, and emergent patterns of traits. Second, to argue that philosophical accusations and premature demands have retarded a science of memetics; regardless, isolated demonstrations of empirical research feasibility suggest a pragmatic resolution. Third, to speculate about practical applications, future advances, and prompt consideration about resuming methodological research initiatives that draw extensively from biology into organisational and managements science.

Design/methodology/approach – Owing to present methodological immaturity of cultural science then a high conceptual level of meta-methodology is required. This scope necessarily overlooks specific technical details. Life-science principles are well known in comparison to the embryonic memetic and cultural sciences. The meme-gene analogy builds a bridge across which we can draw candidate hypotheses and established methods. However, memetics has inherited the expectations of genetics but without its developmental history. Memetics therefore would benefit from recapitulating the ontogenesis of the more senior science by drawing upon foundational methods.

Findings – Linnæan Systematics was elemental to evolutionary theory and genetics; a cultural analogue is proposed. Retreating to description would support emerging objective organisational taxonomies that are laying the methodological foundations for a potential synthesis between organisational replicator and evolutionary theories.

Research limitations/implications – At the moment, the number of organisational examples are few, which further suggests the fundamental nature of this area of research. They serve to illustrate that a large array of hypotheses and methods can be adapted from the biological domain, opening up a bloom of research implications for the organisational domain.

Originality/value – Discourse about memetics is commonplace, but empirical research has been undermined. Originality stems from reapplying established biological methods to the new organisational domain. The value is in conferring the rigour of natural science to socio-cultural study.

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