The Matrix and other paradigms

“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” Morpheus

One of my all-time favourite movies is The Matrix. I still remember very vividly the moment when I saw the movie for the first time. I was 15 years old and visiting my relatives in London. I remember being so blown away by it. The trick for me was not the innovative visual effects – though they probably added to the experience – but the story of the Matrix. Could there really exits something so totally blinding that it masks our ability to see how things ‘really’ are? And how was somebody even able to come up with a story like this?

During the last couple of years, I have on several occasions thought of the movie in relation to my research without really been able to articulate why. Last week, when I was reading the first couple of pages of the new book ‘Service-dominant logic: Premises, Perspectives and Possibilities’, it finally hit me why I like the movie so much. It is because The Matrix tells a story similar to paradigmatic change. In the movie the Matrix works basically the same way than a belief system or an institutional logic that is so taken-for-granted that it loses its enabling abilities and becomes overly constraining as we cannot ‘see’ it anymore (if we ever did). In other words, it becomes us. In the scientific community such institutional logics are called as paradigms – and one of these paradigms is referred as the goods-dominant (G-D) logic by Vargo and Lusch.

The G-D paradigm narrows our view on exchange by focusing our attention to units of outputs and manufacturer-centricity [1]. It has long dominated the academia in business and management studies and through education influenced how business is conducted in practice and then through empirical findings been confirmed again by the academia (in other words it is performative by its nature). It is so deeply ingrained in our thinking that it is hard to challenge as we cannot really even acknowledge it. It also guides us to be preoccupied by what Kuhn would call as ‘normal science’ [2].

Fortunately the means for paradigm change are built in the normal science itself through the element of arbitrariness. This means that even in the case of prevailing paradigm there is never only one single and coherent logic shared by all – instead institutional logics are numerous and heterogeneous [3]. As the different logics interact and conflict with one another, they will adapt and change – inevitable these changes will also reach the paradigmatic level of thought and trigger a revolution called a paradigm shift.

In my earlier post, I described parts of my own (r)evolution as a researcher. There was something that I was seeing in my research that was conflicting with the conventional literature on innovation and this made me look for different answers. My search paid off and I was offered with the greatest opportunity of my life.

I chose the red pill and it brought me to Hawaii. Now I am ready to see just how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

[1] Lusch, R.F. and Vargo, S.L. (2014) Service-Dominant Logic: Premises, Perspectives, Possibilities. Cambridge University Press.
[2] Kuhn, T.S. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
[3] Thornton, P.H., Ocasio, W. and Lounsbury, M. (2012), The Institutional Logics Perspective: A New Approach to Culture, Structure and Process, Oxford University Press, Oxford.