Explaining Ignoring – Working with Information that Nobody Uses

Anna Essén, Morten Knudsen, Mats Alvesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has demonstrated how ignorance is made, manipulated and called upon; how it is the result of strategies, activities and structures. This article extends the literature on ignorance by exploring actors’ own explanations of their self-inflicted ignorance following acts of ignoring. By means of a case analysis, we explore how actors explain and justify ignoring data they themselves produced. We provide a multifaceted model of how ignoring actors’ own rationales, facilitated by contextual conditions, enables persistent acts of ignoring the content and dysfunction of collectively upheld systems. We contribute to the understanding of ignorance by demonstrating how self-inflicted ignorance is made possible by the combination of ignoring rationales and their facilitators, which configures buffers against knowledge-seeking efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-747
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number5
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration

Free keywords

  • division of labour
  • functional stupidity
  • healthcare
  • image
  • information management
  • knowledge management
  • professionalism
  • strategic ignorance
  • wilful ignorance


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