Embracing Ambiguity: Creating Portals to Enactment and Inquiry

Leadership and Organizational Management Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 106-136

12 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2007 Last revised: 1 Nov 2012

See all articles by Kevin J. Davis

Kevin J. Davis

U.S. Air Force Academy - Department of Management

James E. Parco

Colorado College

David A. Levy

U.S. Air Force Academy - Department of Management

Steve P. Fraser

Florida Gulf Coast University

Date Written: October 1, 2008

Abstract

In a modern era where military professionals, like their civilian counterparts, routinely find themselves facing significant ambiguity, we recognize a vital need to prepare junior officers for the challenges that await them. In our capacity as faculty members (past and present) in the Department of Management at the United States Air Force Academy, we have developed a course over the past twelve years aimed at fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skill and the ability to frame and resolve ill-defined problems. This paper uses various aspects of the course's framework to demonstrate how students are taken on a journey which allows them to experience the dramatic differences made possible by changing one's perspective. Students are pushed into a realm of ambiguity, from which they generally realize that their prior models of a number of systems are fragile and inadequate; further, they come to see that answers, models, and frameworks are enactments which can always be improved upon. Results from the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal indicate that the course improves students' critical thinking abilities. However, the course was not designed to teach students to think critically, but rather to lead them on a journey of self-discovery, forcing them to enact new realities.

Keywords: management education, management, creativity, complexity

JEL Classification: A22, D81

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin J. and Parco, Jim and Levy, David A. and Fraser, Steve P., Embracing Ambiguity: Creating Portals to Enactment and Inquiry (October 1, 2008). Leadership and Organizational Management Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 106-136. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1018457 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1018457

Kevin J. Davis

U.S. Air Force Academy - Department of Management ( email )

2354 Fairchild Drive
Suite 6H-94
Academy, CO 80840-2944
United States
719-333-4130 (Phone)

Jim Parco (Contact Author)

Colorado College ( email )

Department of Economics and Business
14 E. Cache la Poudre St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
United States
719-389-6416 (Phone)
719-389-6927 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/dept/EC/parco.asp

David A. Levy

U.S. Air Force Academy - Department of Management ( email )

2354 Fairchild Drive
Suite 6H-94
Academy, CO 80840-2944
United States
7193332328 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.thinkingdeeplyabout.org

Steve P. Fraser

Florida Gulf Coast University ( email )

10485 FGCU Blvd S
Ft. Myers, FL 33965-6565
United States

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