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4.15.1 Ontologies

We noted earlier that, in philosophy, an ontology refers fundamentally to ‘being’, or ‘what can be’. In the field of artificial intelligence the term ‘ontology’ has been appropriated to mean a ‘reusable terminological scheme’ or, if you prefer, a ‘conceptualisation’: a scheme for providing a rigorous description of the concepts, attributes and interrelationships deemed relevant to describe a particular aspect of the world. Its precision means that it can serve as an agreed
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3.6.1 When we just want to forget (‘we're only human’)

Group memory systems might be counterproductive if they damage morale or prevent a team from moving on after a failure. Studies of software teams show that many commercial projects are cancelled before completion. This generates an intense pressure to work as hard as possible (so that maintaining group memory falls by the wayside) and, understandably, in many cultures if a project is regarded as a failure everyone wants to forget it as quickly as possible rather than analyse it for lessons le
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2.4 Codification and formalisation continued

An important point is that the process of ‘objectifying’ knowledge brings with it a gradual change in the knowledge represented, because content and form are inextricably linked. McLuhan's famous quotation ‘the medium is the message’ highlights this phenomenon, but overstates the case a little. We can say that the medium shapes the message, as follows:

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2.2 Representation, interpretation and communities of practice continued

The preceding discussion brings us to a critical concept introduced earlier: the community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998; Bowker and Star, 1999). Wenger emphasises that such communities are not the preserve of what are commonly conceived as knowledge workers. Wenger's central example is of a department of staff processing medical insurance claims, somewhat in contrast to the autonomous knowledge workers defined by Peter Drucker. In fact, as the term reflects,
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2.4 Means of regulation

We have started to draw attention to cultural variables already when talking about the perceived objectives of financial reporting. In this next section, cultural issues can be seen to have a considerable impact on the methods used in each country to regulate its accounting, and indeed on whether regulation is perceived to be necessary.

One of the fundamentals in this area is the underlying legal system. The literature recognises two models: the common law model and the Roman law model.
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1.3 Managing the national economy

The earliest regulation in Europe was not motivated by stewardship concerns, but was aimed at small businesses whose owners did not take the trouble to measure the success of their business. Consequently they went into liquidation, often, as is the case with small business networks, taking other businesses down with them. The 1673 Savary Ordonnance in France, which is regarded as the first national accounting rule created in the world and was subsequently taken up into the French Comme
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1.2 Stewardship

The simplest form of financial reporting has been around, originally unregulated, for thousands of years. Ever since possessors of wealth appointed other people to manage their money, the agents have been reporting back on what they did with it in the form of the stewardship report. If you are familiar with the Bible, you may know a parable about a wealthy man who advances the same amount of money to three employees, and then asks them a year later to say what they did with it – verbal fina
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5.2 Institutionalising French bread

The context-specific nature of rationality is such that, as we have just indicated, many insider norms are not apparent to outsiders. From the point of view of an organisation, the institutional rules of practice that prevail in any given context enable and constrain the dimensions of viable practice. Managers who try to do things that violate accepted norms about practices that insiders judge to be sacred or profane tend to encounter resistance. The capacity to achieve a difference – the p
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4.2 Narrowing the focus

Offering a unique value proposition involves designing a value-driven operating model. This is a combination of operating processes, management systems, business structures and culture that will give the organisation the ability to deliver superior value. The value-driven operating model is the means of delivering the value proposition.

Organisations that are market leaders have value-driven cultures and management systems that treat all employees as ‘part-time marketers’ (Gu
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5 The characteristics of ‘good’ information

Have you ever seen a set of published accounts for a company? If you haven’t or, even if you have, take a look at some now. (They are often called the annual report.)

Internet activities are intended to show you the large range of information available at your fingertips. Some of it is useful, most of it is not. Accountants are increasingly having to deal with growing quantities of information and many are having to search for relevant information as part of their jobs. These I
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References

Brown, A. (1995) Organisational Culture, London, Pitman.
Crace, J. (2000) ‘Feel at home with a job abroad’, Guardian, 14 October.
Drennan, D. (1992) Transforming Company Culture, London, McGraw Hill.
Hofstede, G. (1980) Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work Related Values, London,
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1.1 Hofstede's five Cultural Dimensions

A series of perspectives that we might use to achieve a different insight into business was introduced by Morgan (1986) in his book entitled Images of an Organization. One of these was the business as a culture, a type of micro-society where people work and ‘live’ together on a daily basis, with certain rules and understandings about what is acceptable and what is not. The idea of a business having a culture was developed from the work of Hofstede on national cultures (1980). His r
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Activity 4: What do you see?

Allow 60 minutes for this activity.

Now that you have understood the nature of national culture and how it is manifested in your context, the following activities will help you to appreciate why it matters. Culture influences your way of thinking. Indeed Hofstede argues that it is a ‘given’ for organisations and therefore also influences the way in which organisations are managed.

This activity will help you to understand why culture matters by helping you to see how di
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1 Overview

This unit begins with some explanations of culture and discussion of how to distinguish between national and organisational culture. Reading what some well-known writers on organisational and national culture have to say will help you recognise some of the main dimensions of culture and reinforces that all of us, including organisations, construct different views of the world as a result of cultural influences. Thus culture plays a key role in the ways in which organisations perceive the envi
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2.1 Unique problems and constraints

In an ideal world, projects would be completed on time, within specified budgets and to the standards set out in the plans. In practice, any project involves a set of unique problems and constraints that inevitably create complexity and risk. Plans are liable to change as work progresses, and each stage in the process may have to be revisited several times before completion. Projects do not exist in a vacuum: they often take place in rapidly changing contexts, and the impact of the changing e
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1.6 Evaluation matrices

When there are several courses of action, then one way of thinking clearly about the advantages and drawbacks of the different courses is to compile an evaluation matrix.

Box 1: Six steps to creating an evaluation matrix

  1. List the various options.

  2. <
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1.5 Matrices

A matrix is an arrangement of ‘cells’ in rows and columns. A spreadsheet is a simple example of a matrix. Each cell is described by its position in a column, normally denoted by an alphabetical letter, and in a row, normally denoted by a number. So ‘cell B6’ on your spreadsheet is the one which occupies column B and row 6. The size of a matrix is described by the number of rows and the number of columns (in that order).

A ‘two-by-two’ matrix has two rows and two columns. A
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1.3 Pie charts

A pie chart is a way of presenting proportional data in the form of a circle – the ‘pie’. Each ‘slice’ shows its proportion to the whole. The whole itself must be finite and known, for example, the total number of staff in an organisation or the total IT maintenance budget.

Suppose that the staff of an organisation are comprised as shown in Author(s): The Open University

1.1.3 The intercept

When a line cuts an axis, the line is said ‘to intercept the axis at’ [the particular point]. In this example, the line cuts the vertical (y) axis at £10, so ‘the line intercepts the y axis at £10’. It can also be said that ‘the intercept with the y axis is £10’.


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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • understand the value of graphics as visual thinking tools;

  • give examples of relevant graphics used in the business context.


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