What is the world of an artificial manager made of? Part 3 – Things as resources

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In the previous post, I discussed very briefly the philosophical basis of the ontology of organizational reality I created, i.e. the elements of the world that an artificial manager must “see and understand”. You can find more on this subject in my book “Organizational Sizing System”. Now I’m going to show how things that are considered by philosophers are turned into resources, known to management specialists. And the robot manager must know them too.

From the definitions of things and characteristics of things cited in the previous post, one of the main paradigms of management science emerges – the resource approach (Resources Based View – author’s note) [1]. The resource approach emphasizes the importance of resources that an organization owns or has at its disposal, but which it does not necessarily also own [2]. In the resource approach, a resource is a certain amount of something that has been collected, accumulated, acquired or developed for future use [3] The approach views an organization as a collection of resources [4].

See more on YT: Resource Based View (RBV): The Ultimate Summary

A resource in this approach is understood very broadly. It can be fixed assets, brand, patents and trademarks, relationships with customers and within the organization, knowledge, etc. [5]. The resource approach primarily focuses on the resources of the enterprise, and only secondarily considers factors in the organization’s environment [6]. One of the founders of this concept was J.B. Barney, who saw it as an explanation for the causes of a company’s competitive advantage [7]. This way of thinking imposes the perception of the diversity of resources as a factor determining the effectiveness of the company.

The resource approach was also intended to answer three questions for managers:

  • on which resources should the organization’s operation be based,
  • which resources should be developed,
  • in what order to develop the above resources. [8]

The resource approach has been developed by researchers in management science especially in the 1990s, and it provides a basis for optimizing behavior within an organization to make the best use of its resources. As J.B. Barney writes, “the logic of the resource approach” allows managers to better understand what types of resources exist within an organization and which ones result in a sustainable advantage over competitors (in the original, “strategic advantage” – author’s note). [9]

A resource can be any “thing” (i.e., an existing fact of thing class – author’s note), whether “measurable or unmeasurable” (in the original “tangible or intangible” – author’s note). [10] Approaching the ontology of an organization in the context of the resources that the organization has, makes it necessary to adopt a criterion for their division.

One of the basic criteria is the division of resources into measurable (tangible) and non-measurable (intangible). [11] It can be assumed that they correspond respectively to “external” facts in the sense of L. Wittgenstain’s and “internal” facts resulting from solipsism. As I wrote in the previous post, this corresponds to the two basic “bricks” of the manager’s world, namely “objective thing” and “subjective thing.”

Tangible resources are “objective things,” i.e. tangible assets, finances, inventory, but also physical objects produced by the manager or any member of his team – a plan, an organizational structure, a written goal, etc. Intangible resources are “subjective things,” which include competence, relationships between people, satisfaction, motivation, boredom, etc.

Now let’s go back to things in the imagination and the sense that an artificial manager should have. I wrote earlier that it must have a sense of activities, and here I am writing about resources. It is, after all, something completely different: to eat and dine. We can eat dinner. The word “eat” is an activity, and “dinner” is a material resource (first the thing in the imagination, and then the resource on the plate). You have probably already grasped this relationship. In order to understand (grasp, register) the activity “eat”, we must have “dinner”. Otherwise, there can be no “eat” activity, unless we eat breakfast instead of dinner… (that is, we will have another resource).

The same is true of an intangible resource. Take, for example, the motivation to work. Let’s say it’s Saturday, 6 a.m. – I have no motivation to get out of bed, much less to exercise, for example. I don’t have that resource. However, if I wake up at this time and remind myself, or preferably visualize accurately, that with 30 minutes of daily exercise I will have a flat stomach and more confidence on the beach within a month, I will roll out of bed and start exercising. My motivation will kick in. The activity of visualizing the effect and dreaming of a flat belly will increase the resource I didn’t have.

Therefore, it’s impossible to think about activities, and consequently the mindset of activities in our robot manager, if we don’t understand that inherent in (to pair) every activity is… a resource. Which is sometimes there or not there. The robot manager must be able to recognize resources.

In the next posts, I will show how what activities are and how to associate them with resources. And finally, we will build a sense of activities in our robot manager!

[1] M.A. Peteraf: The Cornerstones of Competitive Advantage: A Resource-Based View. Strategic Management Journal 1993, Vol. 14 (3), s. 179.

[2] E. Skawińska: Konkurencyjność przedsiębiorstw – nowe podejście. Warszawa, Poznań, PWN, 2002, s. 18-19.

[3] B. Stefanowicz: Informacja. Warszawa, Szkoła Główna Handlowa – Oficyna Wydawnicza, 2004, s. 139.

[4] Y.E. Spanos, S. Lioukas: An Examination into the Causal Logic of Rent Generation: Contrasting Porter’s Competitive Strategy Framework and the Resource-Based Perspective. Strategic Management Journal 2001, Vol. 22 (10), s. 907-934.

[5] C.K. Prahalad, G. Hamel: The Core Competence of the Corporation. Harvard Business Review 1990, Vol. 68 (3), s. 79-91.

[5] P. McKiernan: Strategy Past, Strategy Futures. Long Range Planning 1997, Vol. 30, s. 78-91.

[7] J.B. Barney: Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage. Journal of Management 1991, 17 (1), s. 99-120.

[8] B. Wernerfelt: A Resource-Based View of the Firm. Strategic Management Journal 1984, Vol. 5 (2), s. 172.

[9] J.B. Barney: Is the Resource-based “View” a useful Perspective for Strategic Management Research? Yes. Academy of Management Review 1991, Vol. 26 (1), s. 49.

[10] M. Wade, J. Hulland: The Resource-Based View and Information Systems Research: Review, Extension, and Suggestions for Future Research. MIS Quarterly 2004, Vol. 28 (1), s. 109.

[11] K. Clarke, M. Pitt: Competing on Competence: A Knowledge Perspective on the Management of Strategic Innovation. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management 1999, Vol. 11 (3), s. 302.