Inaugural lecture by Honorary Doctor Mats Alvesson

organised by the Department of Management, Society and Communication.

Monday, August 27, 2018 - 15:00 to 17:00

Mats Alvesson

The Stupidity Paradox. The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work.


Functional stupidity is common in organization and a mixed blessing. It refers to how people focus on the job and only think within ’the box’, being competent, but refraining from broader reflection about meaning and purpose, avoiding asking critical questions and asking for justification of orders and routines. Functional stupidity can cause major individual and organisational problems. There are countless, more everyday examples of organisations accepting the dubious, the absurd and the downright idiotic, from unsustainable management fads to the cult of leadership or an over-reliance on brand and image. And yet a dose of stupidity can be useful and produce good, short-term results: it can nurture harmony, encourage people to get on with the job and drive performance. This is the stupidity paradox.

The talk tackles head-on the pros and cons of functional stupidity. It addresses makes a workplace mindless, why being stupid might be a good thing in the short term but a disaster in the longer term, and how to make workplaces a little less stupid by challenging thoughtless conformity. It shows how harmony and action in the workplace can be balanced with a culture of questioning and challenge. The talk shows how anti-stupidity management can work. 

The talk is based on the  book: The Stupidity Paradox. The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work. Profile 2016 (with André Spicer)

Professor Mats Alvesson, School of Management, Lund University, is one of the most distinguished social scientists in Europe and the world, globally recognised for this thought leadership.  Professor Alvesson’s originality and influence are closely related to his innovative embrace and practice of multidisciplinarity, which has made him a leading scholar at the crossroads of leadership studies, organisation communication, knowledge work studies, organisation culture and identity andg ender. He is most known from being an originator of Critical Management Studies, and his work on research methodology and theory building.

Professor Alvesson has written 26 books, and more than 60 research articles in peer review journals. His most recent books are The Stupidity Paradox (with André Spicer), Reflexive Methodology (third edition, with Kaj Sköldberg), Reflexive Leadership (with Martin Blom and Stefan Sveningsson), Return to Meaning (with Yinnasi Gabriel and Roland Paulsen) and The Triumph of Emptiness.

Mats Alvesson is one of three Honorary Doctors appointed by CBS in 2018. The original event was held at CBS the 16th of March 2018.


15.00 - 15.10 Welcome and Introduction by President Per Holten-Andersen 
15.10 - 16.00 Inaugural lecture by Honorary Doctor Mats Alvesson
16.00 -           Reception at 2V.088, second floor at Dalgas Have no later than 22 August.


Dalgas Have 15
2000 Frederiksberg

The page was last edited by: Department of Management, Society and Communication // 08/16/2018