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date: 20 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores how one might best understand Herbert Simon’s work. Many know him as a Nobel Prize-winning economist, an administrative theorist, a founder of AI, or as a psychologist—a man of many identities. The discussion suggests that ‘bounded rationality’ was Simon’s metaphor for the dynamic and pragmatic humanism he stood up against, the ‘rational man’, which he saw as a metaphor for today’s infertile anti-humanist ‘rational choice’ theorizing. Simon’s achievements were vast and exemplary, but they are of particular interest to management theorists. Although Simon was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, his work stood on a devastating critique of neoclassical economics. The main elements of his reputation are as a theorist of organizational decision-making, cognition, and management. Despite the seeming paradox between Simon’s distrust of human computation and his untroubled faith in computers, the article argues that Simon never abandoned his early humanising pluralism and philosophical positions.

Keywords: AI, bounded rationality, economics, management theorist, Nobel Prize, philosophy, Herbert Simon

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