Designing decisions in the unknown: Pascal Le Masson

3 mai 2018





Designing decisions in the unknown: Pascal Le Masson


Seminars Business Group : The De Vinci Research Center Business Group combines the expertise from research professors in innovation, marketing, human resources, and entrepreneurial strategy. Key areas of research include improving technological learning models, understanding the impact of digital strategies on business ecosystems, and improving B to B customer relationships.

Invited guest

Pascal Le Masson est professeur à MINES ParisTech – PSL Research University, Chaire théorie et méthode de la conception. Il est directeur du Centre de Gestion Scientifique (CGS), laboratoire d’i3 – UMR CNRS 9217.

Ses recherches portent sur la théorie et les méthodes de la conception innovante (fondements théoriques, ingénierie et gouvernance de l’innovation, bases neuro-psychologiques de la créativité, écosystèmes et régulation, identité des objets et réception expansive). Il a publié Strategic Management of Innovation and Design, avec Armand Hatchuel et Benoit Weil, aux Presses Universitaires de Cambridge (2010) et Desihn theory (2017) chez Springer. Il publie régulièrement dans les revues internationales de référence et a donné plusieurs conférences plénières invitées dans les sociétés savantes du domaine.

Avec E. Subrahmanian (Carnegie Mellon Univ) il dirige le SIG (Special Interest Group) Design Theory de la Design Society. Il collabore avec de nombreuses entreprises, notamment les partenaires de la chaire Théorie et Méthodes de la Conception Innovante.

Seminar topic

Designing decisions in the unknown: towards a generative decision model for management science

This study examines how design theory enables us to extend decision-making logic to the “unknown,” which often appears as the strange territory beyond the rationality of the decision-maker. We contribute to the foundations of management by making the unknown an actionable notion for the decision-maker. To this end, we build on the pioneering works in “managing in the unknown” and on design theory to systematically characterize rational forms of action to structure the exploration of the unknown from a decision-making perspective. We show that action consists of designing decisions in the unknown and can be organized on the basis of the notion of a “decision-driven design path,” which is not yet a decision but helps to organize the generation of a better decision-making situation. Our decision-design model allows us to identify four archetypes of decision-driven design paths. Two involve generating “wishful decisions,” either by improvement or by genericity, while the other two involve generating “decision-changing states” by generating a “best-choice hacking state” or an “all-decisions hacking state.” These archetypes correspond to forms of collective action characterized by a specific strategy of knowledge acquisition, a specific performance, and specific organizations. In particular, they enable us to discuss the variety of known organizational forms that managers can rely on to explore the unknown.

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