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

Cabantous, L. & Gond, J-P. (2015). The Resistible Rise of Bayesian Thinking in Management: Historical Lessons From Decision Analysis. Journal of Management, 41(2), pp. 441-470. doi: 10.1177/0149206314558092


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.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2015
Publisher Keywords: actor-network theory, Bayes, boundary objects, boundary organizations, decision theory, history of management science, translation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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