Artem, a vector of ethical and strategic propensity for Irena - ICN Business School

Artem, a vector of ethical and strategic propensity for Irena

When ICN became involved in the Artem alliance 20 years ago alongside the Ecole des Mines and ENSAD Nancy, it was necessary to learn how to bring Artem to life by mixing managers, engineers and artists. Above all, it has also been necessary to broaden the spectrum of over-disciplined disciplinary thinking. We already knew the dangers of an uncultivated science, which had become cult or occult, with the Salt Spirit of J.M. Lévy-Leblond. We also knew that it was possible to produce ignorance with science, as Pierre Legendre points out in the Empire of Truth.

A real challenge born with Artem

In terms of research at the service of management, a real challenge was born with Artem, a challenge whose scope is undoubtedly even greater today. Indeed, international quality accreditation systems work in tandem with increasingly stringent rankings that act as invisible technologies (Damart 2019).

Thus, over the past fifteen years, a number of researchers have warned of the risks of a disconnect between published articles on the one hand and practices in companies on the other. This is the case with the question of human resources development in organizations (Persson, Wasieleski, 2015; Persson, Shrivastava, 2016; Persson, Agostini, Kléber, 2017). More generally, the question of the impact of research work is a serious one.

…the risks of a disruption between published articles and company practices…


Can publishing to publish make sense?

Artem has proven to be a real research challenge by forcing the answer to this question.  An Artem research involves a key issue. It recognizes that borders have become territories to explore, and therefore to invest. In terms of research, Artem’s mission is to open the shackles of dominant intellectual approaches in the academic field as it has essentially been forged in the West. It is about enabling thought to breathe better in order to innovate through forward-looking processes of intellectual creativity at the service of a sustainable and better governed world.

Investing in intellectual creativity implies going beyond the dominant analytical rationality of European philosophy. This cannot be enough to embrace and understand the world that was engendered and what it is becoming. The systemic thinking that has emerged, as a relay of analytical thinking and cybernetics, is a step. The systemic approach reflects an awareness of the inadequacy of analytical thinking in the face of complexity, by opening the door to other types of thinking. However, it is insufficient because it remains relatively powerless to identify the silent transformations of François Julien that we call on to mobilize (Shrivastava, Persson, 2018):

“The concept of silent transformation avoids having to separate what “happens” from what carries it (rather than what “causes” it) (Jullien, 2009). Moreover, “from a descriptive concept, could silent transformation become an art of managing […] a concept that is strategic, and even politically oriented? ». The purpose is not then to say who would be right or wrong; what should be done or undone. It is a question of developing a strategic attention to silent transformations through a sharpened perception of situations. Attached to the challenges of global warming, CSR, digital transformation, HR development, etc., the question arises of “what induction management can be by identifying the levers likely to affect and influence the transformations in progress.

The Artem dynamic, beyond identifying systemic functional connections (i.e. what makes the system work), is both vital and strategic. She is interested in the processes of innovative intellectual fertilization from a prospective perspective. For this it needs a “method” but also to know how to navigate when the path is no longer traced (Shrivastava, Persson, 2014).


… Artem’s mission: to open the shackles of dominant intellectual approaches in the academic field…


How to “artemize” management research?

On a concrete level, in terms such as inter-cultural, trans-disciplinary, eco-logical, post-modern, co-development… the added value of an Artem research is to understand what prepositions such as “inter”, “trans”, “eco”, “post”, “co”… These prepositions which do not have the rank of concept in philosophical and epistemological layers deserve to be knighted to “artemize” research in management.

These prepositions have emerged, certainly out of the need for collaboration between disciplines, but also between theory and practice, between tradition and modernity, between sensitive and intelligible, artists often being ahead of philosophers, as François Jullien willingly points out. These prepositions are the defectors of artificial borders because they are first of all mental created by the scientific process. Their limits are of several kinds:

  • disciplinary, forging disciplined behaviour. It is a question of innovating despite the aegis of the “publish or perish” with the “as is” publication process (Tsang, Frey, 2007) which tends to kill innovation in the writing of management research and confine publications to the academic sphere;
  • ethnocentric, because it is based on intellectual criteria forged in the West, but with a universal claim. A worrying uniformity is developing in reviews devoted to management and organizations (Tsui, 2013). Do we need to remember that “uniform” does not mean universal (Jullien, 2008)? The process of globalization/uniformity tends to erase the resources of other cultures, especially those of the South, while the barycentre of socio-economic development is shifting towards the East and the South. And this at a time when the challenges for sustainable development are becoming increasingly clear (Shrivastava, Persson, 2018);
  • logical, without sufficiently questioning from which ideological, anthropological and ontological axes the art of thinking management turns. The speeches anchored to the Greek Logos call for new “intellectual designs” between theory and practice for Human Resources (Persson, Shrivastava, 2016 ).


IRENA, IcnREsearchNewsArtem, in line with creative thinking

Opening the door to other ways of thinking, in line with ICN’s creactive thinking, means getting out of a certain comfort. Other thoughts related to multi-millennial languages and cultures, which are themselves evolving, deserve to irrigate the intellectual resources of management research, which is sometimes described as irresponsible or even dangerous (Tsui, 2013). This makes it possible to promote real academic responsibility in the digital age.

This is how IRENA, IcnREsearchNewsArtem emerges, which voluntarily and clearly positions itself at the service of a wider community. Intended for all ICN stakeholders, Irena will offer its readers the results of the research and studies of nearly 80 ICN teacher-researchers and their co-authors. In Irena’s genealogy, Artem resonates through the final A of the Greek first name. Moreover, in the face of the attractive but sometimes tumultuous challenge that Artem has created, Irena wants to be peaceful by virtue of its Greek etymology, eirênê, peace!

At a time when the environment of organizations is described as VICA (volatile, uncertain, complex, random) and development is sustainable, can we really continue to think, seek and act without deeply questioning a certain number of assumptions encysted in our history, …, and even more so in our disciplines? At this point, Irena is clearly placed on a crossroads, engaged in the transdisciplinary movement (Shrivastava, Ivanaj, Persson, 2013).  

…IRENA is voluntarily and clearly positioning itself to serve a wider community…



Deputy Director of Research at ICN, Sybille Persson has a dual profile as a researcher and a corporate practitioner. She founded the ICN coaching school in 2006 based on her thesis work in HRM. She opens up new avenues of research in the field of transcultural intelligence. She defends a strategic ethic by relying on the work of the philosopher and sinologist François Jullien to apply it to management. She supervises several theses and regularly publishes in the academic and professional spheres. Her work has been published in Business Strategy and the Environment, Human Resource Management Review, Journal of Cleaner Production, Journal of Change Management, M@n@gement, Management International, Management and Organization Review….

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