Numbers are part of business administration, but are not always true
Dhe current discussion about the predictability and unpredictability of business decisions in the FAZ from November 14th and 28th focuses on objective versus subjective probabilities as well as homogeneity versus individuality in business decision-making processes. Depending on the point of view, a complete reorientation of business administration (BWL) is required or only a changed use of existing instruments is suggested. However, it is only superficially about (un)predictability. The problem lies much deeper. The orientation of business administration depends on how it deals with the (un)knowable future and the associated (un)controllability of corporate success.
What can be known and controlled, what can only be guessed at and hoped for? For example, a member of the Management Board presents a proposal for an investment that requires approval to the Supervisory Board. With regard to the chances of success, a member of the supervisory board asks: “Do you know that, or do you suspect it?” There are three possible answers: “I know”, “I suspect it” and “Is the question meant seriously?”. The first answer would be a lie or illusory, the second honest and the third would get to the heart of the basic business problem. The question does not arise, since everything in the future cannot be known. Knowledge in the sense of ascertainable, intersubjectively verifiable facts and connections can only exist about what was. Knowledge can be wrong (Error) or incomplete (Knowable unknowns). This is to be distinguished from ignorance that cannot be known (Unknowable unknowns). If you mistakenly assume you know something that cannot be known, you have an illusion of knowledge.