Evaluating memetics : A case of competing perspectives at an SME.

GILL, Jameson. (2013). Evaluating memetics : A case of competing perspectives at an SME. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Memetics, which posits a cultural replicator similar to the gene in biology, has been proposed as a theory with which to study cultural phenomena such as organisations. However, much of the theory of memetics has been developed without empirical testing. Consequently, its application to organisations and its operationalisation in empirical studies tends to make assumptions about the nature of putative memes. The purpose of this project is to design a study to test the fundamental tenets of meme theory in an organisational setting. To do so the study poses research questions relating to the possibility of identifying units of culture and investigates whether such units can be seen to replicate. The questions posed require the development of an 'extra-memetic' method which avoids the pitfalls of previous studies by rejecting the operationalisation of memes as part of its design. By considering complexity theory a narrative approach, grounded in a realist philosophy, is selected as the basis of an extra-memetic method. To accommodate the various technical terms used in the literature a glossary is included. Subsequently, an analysis based on first, structural narrative units and second, narrative evaluation is developed in the context of a case study organisation. The narrative approach enables the generic use of the underlying rationale of the genetic theory which underpins the proposal of the meme but without resorting to genetic analogy. In particular, the concept of the optimon is adopted. By comparing competing perspectives at the case study organisation, the study finds that it is possible to identify 'optimon' units of culture similar to the optimon genes which are described in Mendelian heredity. However, the notion of replication in culture, similar to that of DNA, is not supported. The original contribution to knowledge is constituted by a critical evaluation of the extant memetic theory, an approach to identifying units of culture which might aid the application of genetic metaphor or discourse theory and a new methodological approach to investigating the meme. In particular, one unit of culture, the 'proof, is identified and through the use of a punnett square model its credibility as a replicator is critically evaluated. The limitations of a single case study are recognised and summarised. However, in addition to the contribution to meme theory, the project points towards possible avenues for further research which are related to critical realism, discourse analysis and action research in organisations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Price, Ilfryn
Thesis advisor - Ridley-Duff, Rory
Thesis advisor - Mills, Sara
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2013.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 11:47
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19687

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