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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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An extra-memetic empirical methodology to accompany theoretical memetics

Document Information:
Title:An extra-memetic empirical methodology to accompany theoretical memetics
Author(s):Jameson Gill, (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Citation:Jameson Gill, (2012) "An extra-memetic empirical methodology to accompany theoretical memetics", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 20 Iss: 3, pp.323 - 336
Keywords:Complexity, Evolution, Meme, Memetics, Narratives
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/19348831211243839 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe the difficulties encountered by researchers who are looking to operationalise theoretical memetics and provide a methodological avenue for studies that can test meme theory.

Design/methodology/approach – The application of evolutionary theory to organisations is reviewed by critically reflecting on the validity of its truth claims. To focus the discussion a number of applications of meme theory are reviewed to raise specific issues which ought to be the subject of empirical investigation. Subsequently, the empirical studies conducted to date are assessed in terms of the progress made and conclusions for further work are drawn.

Findings – The paper finds that the key questions posed by memetic theory have yet to be addressed empirically and that a recurring weakness is the practice of assuming the existence of a replicating unit of culture which has, however, yet to be demonstrated as a valid concept. Therefore, an “extra-memetic” methodology is deemed to be necessary for the development of memetics as a scientific endeavour. Narrative analysis is abducted as an appropriate avenue for the operationalisation of extra-memetic empirical research.

Originality/value – The paper highlights inconsistencies, embedded in much of the memetic literature, which have not previously been recognised and the colloquial nature of the discipline is challenged from a positive but critical perspective. Consequently, the paper develops a rationale for the adoption of a widely recognised social science methodology for memetics which has been absent to date. In proposing narrative orientated research, knowledge concerning memes' validity can be facilitated whilst avoiding the current circularity in memetic truth claims.

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