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Paper info: The Ideational Dynamics of Cultural Interaction and Actor Bonds


The Ideational Dynamics of Cultural Interaction and Actor Bonds


Sid Lowe

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The paper was published at the 17th IMP-conference in Oslo, Norway in 2001.


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This paper provides a critique of IMP modeling and other schools of network analysis as captiveof logocentric thought and colonized by modernist discourse, which relies upon the unchallengedassumptions of reason, rationalism and anthropocentric progress through scientism. IMPmodeling is a welcome relief from narrower forms of economic rationalism in its attemptedintegration of social influences involving trust, social interaction and relationships. IMP modelinghas, however, failed to escape from the colonization of Western ethnocentric rationalism becauseit remains unconsciously wedded to the central tenets of reason, which manifest themselves in theunquestioned primacy of ?modeling? as an outcome of 'superior? positivist epistemology andnomothetic methodology. The principal outcome of this failure is a latent incapability of takingculture seriously and of treating culture, at best, as merely another variable or dimension to beadded on as a marginalized supplement to economy within an econocentric variance modelingapproach.IMP modeling avoids the worst excesses of economic determinism and mechanistic reductionismof neo-classical Structural-Functionalist worldviews and, as such, assists in the monumental taskof overcoming the hegemony of this orthodoxy in Marketing and Management. IMP modeling,however, because of its immanent rationalism cannot adequately challenge the manifestations andconsequences of this hegemony. These include the metanarrative of scientism and itsaccompanying scientific assumptions of metaphysical truth, bivalence and atomised explanation.The argument is that this is embedded within an ethnocentric, rationalist, ?culture-bound? Westernview dominating management academia. IMP modeling ends up being a nave attempt atalternatively challenging ethnocentric orthodoxy that results in furthering the dominance of thelatter because of its unconscious theoretical capitulation to rationalism.Other alternatives are identified as eclectic resources suitable for the development of an approachmore relevant to local rather than universal conditions. These are discussed in the context ofOverseas Chinese networks, which, it is argued, are not understandable outside of a discourse,which both accept culture as a network concept and networks as a cultural phenomena. This it isargued requires a fundamental critical evaluation within the IMP group of its unconsciousmodernist, Western assumptions and a willingness to accept ideas from outside this modernist?psychic prison?, principally from what has become to be termed ?postmodernism?.