Rational Decision-Making as Performative Praxis: Explaining Rationality Éternel Retour

Organization Science, Vol. 22, No. 3, May-June 2011, pp. 573-586

30 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2013

See all articles by Laure Cabantous

Laure Cabantous

Cass Business School, City University London

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School

Date Written: April 1, 2011

Abstract

Organizational theorists built their knowledge of decision making through a progressive critique of rational choice theory. Their positioning towards rationality, however, is at odds with the observation of rationality persistence in organizational life. This paper addresses this paradox. It proposes a new perspective on rationality that allows the theorizing of the production of rational decisions by organizations. To account for rationality’s éternel retour, we approach rational decision making as performative praxis — a set of activities that contributes to turning rational choice theory into social reality. We develop a performative praxis framework that explains how theory, actors, and tools together produce rationality within organizations through three mechanisms: rationality conventionalization, rationality engineering, and rationality commodification. This framework offers new avenues of research on rational decision making and points to the factors that underlie the manufacture of rationality in organizations.

Keywords: Decision making, rationality, strategy-as-practice, performativity

JEL Classification: M0

Suggested Citation

Cabantous, Laure and Gond, Jean-Pascal, Rational Decision-Making as Performative Praxis: Explaining Rationality Éternel Retour (April 1, 2011). Organization Science, Vol. 22, No. 3, May-June 2011, pp. 573-586, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2332788

Laure Cabantous (Contact Author)

Cass Business School, City University London ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

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