The Resistible Rise of Bayesian Thinking in Management: Historical Lessons from Decision Analysis

Journal of Management 41(2), pp. 441-470

51 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2016

See all articles by Laure Cabantous

Laure Cabantous

Cass Business School, City University London

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School

Date Written: February 1, 2015

Abstract

This paper draws from a case study of Decision Analysis – a discipline rooted in Bayesianism aimed at supporting managerial decision making – to inform the current discussion on the adoption of Bayesian modes of thinking in management research and practice. Relying on concepts from the Science, Technology and Society field of study, and Actor-Network Theory, we approach the production of scientific knowledge as a cultural, practical and material affair. Specifically, we analyze the activities deployed by decision analysts to overcome the challenges of making a discipline built on Bayes’ legacy scientifically acceptable, managerially relevant, and long lasting. As a novel contribution to the discussion on the ‘Bayesian revolution’, our study goes beyond institutional accounts of the legitimation of Bayesianism to highlight the role of politics and material artifacts in past and current attempts at importing Bayesianism. Our study also shows the importance of historical continuity in the promotion of Bayesian methods in management.

Keywords: Actor-network theory, Bayes, Boundary objects, Boundary organizations, Decision theory, History of management science, Translation

Suggested Citation

Cabantous, Laure and Gond, Jean-Pascal, The Resistible Rise of Bayesian Thinking in Management: Historical Lessons from Decision Analysis (February 1, 2015). Journal of Management 41(2), pp. 441-470, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2718261

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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