Introduction to 'The Court Jester Is Universal ... But Is He Still Relevant'?

Liisa Välikangas

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialScientific


Where are the fools? In Beatrice Otto's fine documentation, the jester has been an important accompaniment to power in the world's courts, having been granted the exceptional privilege of 'telling the truth'. Yet many jesters were fiercely loyal to the eminent objects of their foolish ridicule. Today's organizations, despite various external perspectives ranging from independent governance boards to outside auditors and consultants, seem to be in increasing need of such courageous and caring interventions. Insufficient reflexivity (Alvesson & Spicer, 2012), imitative rather than economically rational (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983), managed by dominant logic (Bettis & Prahalad, 1995), prone to path-dependent or escalating commitments (Hsieh, Tsai, & Chen, 2014; Schreyogg & Sydow, 2011), fearful (Vuori & Huy, forthcoming), and missing the foolishness that would combat such closed tendencies (March, 1976, 2006), organizations appear to lack insider-jesters who know the skeletons in the cupboard rather than being removed from them. Such speaking out should make organizations more innovative and eventually strategically resilient (Valikangas & Sevon, 2010). Besides, it would help escape the boredom of much organizational life while improving morale in organizations that do not walk the talk. Otto helpfully provides a job announcement ready for use. The Dialogue, Debate, and Discussion column is looking for jesters to add more fooling to organizational theorizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-560
Number of pages2
JournalManagement and Organization Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015
MoE publication typeB1 Article in a scientific magazine



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