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Jared Hanson

DBA Graduate - 2015

Thesis title

Foundations of Social Math: Bridging the Research- Practice Gap in Organization and Management Theory through Rigorous and Relevant Sense Making


Patrick O Sullivan

Dr. Hanson is an expert on fundamental decision dynamics and adult education in operational change. He pioneered new field research that reconciles diverse perspectives through rigorous linguistic framing and empirical metrics. He has led multiple internal education projects to support the restructuring of the two multi-billion dollar companies that were formerly part of AIG and Citi Group into the new OneMain Financial. His success is grounded on the foundations of Social Math® in his DBA.

There is an unresolved philosophical question regarding truth and legitimacy in management research. In this research, I identify the root sense-making cause that creates a divided philosophical foundation in the discipline. Applying the principle of reflection at the sensemaking level of theory development opens the door to reconciling the conflicting perceptions, or “multiple realities,” which remain problematic in the current view where both Positivism and Constructivism are considered valid. To resolve the philosophical problem, this project moves beyond the complex sense-making of cultural narratives to the empirical processes of learning and decision making as the basis for a new narrative (new rules for what makes sense, for what is coherent, i.e. epistemology). If we align our sense-making frame to the evidence that arises from the underlying neurobiological process, then we lay the foundation for a linguistic bridge anchored to empirics. I explore the recommendations in recent literature to pursue new typological approaches to theory development based on fieldwork and qualitative comparative analysis. I examine the typology of experiential learning in three case examples to see if the relationships in this process, when abstracted, apply generally across contexts and scales of operation. My findings substantiate the hypotheses that this process is theoretically generalizable; that it remains constant through time and across sociocultural contexts. This is a critical element in resolving the foundational errors in the pretheory sense-making frame currently used in the scholarly discipline. I show how a shift in sense making can create competitive advantages for managers who face complex and uncertain problems in dynamic environments. Since the findings provide evidence that the process is scalable and generalizable, they shine light on possible ways to resolve foundational mathematical errors and open the way to developing innovations through modeling and systems engineering. By correcting these errors we can finally unleash the “powerful weapon of mathematical analysis” within the scientific community to produce better maps of organizational systems and robust technical solutions to managerial problems.