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Exploring the vulnerability of practice-like activities: An ethnographic perspective

2022 , Bolade-Ogunfodun, Yemisi , Sinnicks, Matthew , Akrivou, Kleio , Scalzo, Germán

Introduction: This paper explores the vulnerability of practice-like activities to institutional domination. Methods: This paper offers an ethnographic case study of a UK-based engineering company in the aftermath of its acquisition, focusing in particular on its R&D unit. Results: The Lab struggled to maintain its practice-based work in an institutional environment that emphasized the pursuit of external goods. Discussion: We use this case to develop two arguments. Firstly, we illustrate the concept of “practice-like” activities and explore their vulnerability to institutional domination. Secondly, in light of the style of management on display after the takeover, we offer further support to MacIntyre's critique of management. Finally, based on the empirical data we reflect on the importance of organizational culture, as well as friendship and the achievement of a common good in business organizations for these kinds of activities. Copyright © 2022 Bolade-Ogunfodun, Sinnicks, Akrivou and Scalzo.

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Innovation as a practice: Why automation will not kill innovation

2023 , Redín, Dulce M. , Cabaleiro-Cerviño, Goretti , Rodriguez-Carreño, Ignacio , Scalzo, Germán

As a result of contemporary culture’s focus on continuous innovation and “change before you have to,” innovation has been identified with economic gains rather than with creating added value for society. At the same time, given current trends related to the automation of business models, workers seem all but destined to be replaced by machines in the labor market. In this context, we attempt to explore whether robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to innovate, and the extent to which said activity is exclusively inherent to human nature. Following the need for a more anthropological view of innovation, we make use of MacIntyrean categories to present innovation as a domain-relative practice with creativity and practical wisdom as its corresponding virtues. We explain why innovation can only be understood within a tradition as it implies participating in inquiry about the principle and end of practical life. We conclude that machines and “intelligent” devices do not have the capacity to innovate and they never will. They may replicate the human capacity for creativity, but they squarely lack the necessary conditions to be a locus of virtue or engage with a tradition. Copyright © 2023 Redín, Cabaleiro-Cerviño, Rodriguez-Carreño and Scalzo.

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The narrative dimension of productive work: craftsmanship and collegiality in the quest for excellence in modern productivity

2021 , Pinto-Garay, Javier , Scalzo, Germán , Rodríguez Lluesma, Carlos

Alasdair MacIntyre´s criticism of Modernity essentially refers to the problem of compartmentalization, which restricts the possibility of achieving excellence in an integral lifestyle. Among other reasons, compartmentalization is especially derived from an insular valorization of the workplace based on a reductionist understanding of productivity in terms of mere efficiency. Aimed at overcoming the moral confusion derived from the overestimation of technical, skilled productivity and individualistic cooperation in private corporations, this article offers a thicker explanation of MacIntyre’s theory of productive work in light of a narrative approach that opens up the possibility of achieving standards of excellence in modern production. To do so, it follows MacIntyre’s understanding of productivity in terms of craftsmanship by explaining what excellence in production is and the role it plays in achieving unity of life and excellence in modern corporations based on two criteria derived from a historical definition of production, namely, craftsmanship and collegiality. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.