Evaluating thinking styles for knowledge management education

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to present a new perspective of the linear-nonlinear thinking style and its critical role in knowledge management education. Previous works in this field identified linear thinking as being rational, logic and analytic, and nonlinear thinking as being based on intuition, insight and creativity. In this perspective, linear thinking is related mostly with cognitive intelligence, while nonlinear thinking is related mostly with emotional intelligence. These interpretations have a slight connection with the generic concepts of linearity and linear spaces developed in science. Our research changed the cognitiveemotional perspective into a new one based on the fundamental properties of linear spaces, as they are defined in Mathematics. Basically, a linear model is characterized from operational point of view by a linear equation. That means that outputs of this model should be proportional with inputs. For instance, the temperature level indicated by a familiar thermometer is proportional with the mercury dilation. If the operational model is based on a nonlinear equation, then the model is nonlinear. Thus, cognitive thinking can be linear or nonlinear, while emotional thinking is by its nature nonlinear. Based on this new theoretical construct we developed an investigation instrument to measure the linear-nonlinear thinking style, and applied it to our students in master programs of business administration where there is an important module of knowledge management and learning organizations. The initial sample consisted of 500 graduate students in attending courses in master programs at the Faculty of Business Administration, Academy of Economic Studies from Bucharest, the most important and best considered university for economics and business in Romania. The questionnaire contains 50 items, with answers evaluated on a Likert-type scale. Using the STATA program we performed various analyses, and interpreted the final results in connection with the educational curricula at the Bachelor and Master levels. Conclusions show a dominant role of the linear thinking style, which might constitute o severe limitation in knowledge management and business decision making process.

Constantin Bratianu; Simona Vasilache: Evaluating linear-nonlinear thinking style for knowledge management education. Management & Marketing, Volume 4 Issue 3, 2009

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