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October 2021

Performance and experimental knowledge: outdoor management training and the end of epistemology

Journal/Book: Environ Plan D Soc Space. 2000; 18: 207 Brondesbury Park, London NW2 5Jn, England. Pion Ltd. 575-595.

Abstract: In this paper I am concerned with experimental learning and knowing. By experimental I refer to a broad set of performances that have the potential to bring about something new. In this view, experiments are not, even in their more restricted sense in scientific laboratories, limited to the corroboration or representation of an idea or thought. Experiments are on going. They are considered in this paper to be thought-in-action. This concern with experimentation and experimental knowledge is developed through an engagement with training activities on outdoor management courses in Britain. Meanwhile, and in addition to this empirical focus, the paper serves as an appraisal of some current themes in social science thinking and practice. So, in part 1 of the paper, I detail some of the recent shifts in academic approaches to knowledge, focusing in particular on the much-vaunted decline of epistemology. This partial review of academic practice then allows me, in part 2 of the paper, to discuss the changes in knowledge practices and styles that have been set in motion in the management professions. Particular emphasis is given in this paper to the changing roles of corporate training with respect to the production of 'new' kinds of knowing and organising. Picking outdoor management training as a useful case with which to explore these shifts, I trace some of the ways in which large organisations set about the task of creating knowledgeable employees. Three themes of outdoor training are developed (embodiment, play, and experimental learning). In part 3 I develop an analysis of the ways in which a training course is conducted. The paper ends by drawing together some of the characteristic features of a performative geography of performance.

Note: Article Hinchliffe S, Open Univ, Fac Social Sci, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, Bucks, ENGLAND


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