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What's in a model? Computer simulations and the management of ignorance

Cacciatori, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-6229-7266, Jarzabkowski, P. ORCID: 0000-0001-8674-6628, Bednarek, R. & Chalkias, K. (2019). What's in a model? Computer simulations and the management of ignorance. Proceedings of the Seventy-ninth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, 2019(1), doi: 10.5465/ambpp.2019.250


Research on artifacts in organization studies predominantly focuses on knowledge – what we know – and how it is produced, used and exchanged through artifacts. This study examines the role of artifacts in managing ignorance. Namely, what is not known, and what cannot be shared across collaborating organizations. We do that through a qualitative study of the use of computerized simulation models in terrorism insurance, using interviews supplemented by observational data. Illustrating the sources of ignorance, we develop a conceptual framework to show how terrorism models, by compartmentalizing ignorance, enable strategies of acceptance, work around and ignoring of ignorance. This contributes to the nascent area of organizational research on ignorance by unpacking the evolving interplay between knowledge and ignorance. Our study also contributes to the organizational literature on the role of material artifacts as enablers of (inter)action. Further, showing how decoupling elements of ignorance from action occurs when demands for rationality in calculating and trading risk require access to knowledge that science cannot produce, this study contributes to the literature that explores how insurance remains possible in contexts of extreme uncertainty.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: ©AOM, 2019.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
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