Paradigm Shift Example – Thomas Kuhn

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It is challenging to classify economics as a scientific discipline because it must meet the criteria that define science. However, there are concerns about the effectiveness of these criteria in differentiating between what is considered scientific and what is not. If we apply the standards of testability or falsifiability, International Business Administration (IBA) would not be classified as a science. Nonetheless, Thomas Kuhn’s theories, which primarily originate from his role as a historian rather than a philosopher of science, can question the criteria that label economics as non-scientific.

This essay will further discuss Kuhn’s philosophy and its relevance to the world of IBA. It will also provide an example from the business field to illustrate the theory. According to Kuhn, understanding science requires examining its history. He proposed the concept of Paradigm Shift in his book “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. A paradigm encompasses accepted metaphysical assumptions, theories, methodologies, manuals, and techniques.

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According to Kuhn’s theory of science, there are three periods: Normal science, Crisis, and Scientific Revolution. Normal science is the continuation of the pre-scientific era, which was characterized by a lack of consensus or general agreement on how to gather information about a phenomenon and a lack of generally accepted background information. Once a general agreement is reached on how to study a phenomenon, the Normal science period begins. During this period, scientists focus on solving unresolved paradigms or addressing minor issues.

When scientists are overwhelmed by numerous anomalies, it leads to a Crisis period. To resolve this crisis, individuals can either accept the existing paradigm and be content with certain resolved anomalies while others remain unsolved, or they can pursue a new solution or paradigm. This latter stage is known as the Scientific Revolution, during which scientists abandon the old paradigm and embrace the new one, rendering the previous paradigm obsolete and unused. Upon the establishment of a new paradigm, Incommensurability arises, signifying a lack of common measurement.

The source highlights the distinctness of the two paradigms being discussed and emphasizes that they cannot be compared. To demonstrate this, we can analyze various paradigms seen in International Business Administration (IBA) within the airline industry throughout time. It is noteworthy that there have been shifts in the industry’s focus on airplane production from 1970 until now. Throughout these years, airlines have prioritized different criteria for performance, including flight hour, travel distance, passenger capacity, and fuel efficiency.

In the 1970s, a collaboration between a French and British company resulted in the Concorde, which became the fastest commercial airplane globally. The Concorde has a travel distance of approximately 4,500 miles, consumes an average of 2,900 gallons of fuel per hour, and can accommodate up to 120 passengers.

In the 2000s, Boeing introduced the 777-300ER. Its production began in 2004. This airplane has a travel distance of around 7,900 miles, consumes an average of 2,300 gallons of fuel per hour, and has a capacity for up to 365 passengers.

These airplanes represent contrasting paradigms from different eras. The Concorde was inefficient, consuming a significant amount of fuel and having limited passenger capacity and long-range capability. However, its creation was motivated by the desire to minimize travel time, taking advantage of the affordable cost of fuel (around $2.26 per gallon when adjusted for inflation in 2011) and considering the scarcity of gasoline compared to today due to fewer cars, planes, boats, and other means of transportation.

Concorde stopped operation in 2003 because it was not efficient in terms of fuel consumption, distance, passenger capacity, and profit. However, the aviation industry saw significant changes with the introduction of the Boeing 777-300ER. The main goal was to enhance airplane performance by improving range, passenger capacity, comfort, and fuel efficiency. This improvement was driven by the higher cost of gasoline (currently at $3.48 per gallon) and increased usage of cars, boats, and airplanes.

With the introduction of the Concorde, air travel was limited to a privileged few due to its high cost. Consequently, larger planes were unnecessary at that time. However, in the 1990s, air travel became more affordable and accessible to a wider audience, prompting airline companies to expand their passenger capacity on existing routes. This compelled aircraft manufacturers to develop higher-capacity planes.

The Boeing 777 was designed to meet the needs of airline companies and adapt to a changing industry. It prioritizes passenger comfort and symbolizes a new era in aviation. Unlike its predecessor, the Concorde, which had cramped conditions such as small headroom, narrow seats, and limited legroom; the Boeing 777 is famous for its comfortable features. Economy seats on the Boeing 777 provide more headroom and legroom than even the premium seats on the Concorde.

Furthermore, four decades ago, speed was more important than fuel consumption considerations.

Companies nowadays aim to increase efficiency in air travel by developing airplanes that can cover long distances with less fuel consumption. The Boeing 777 is a notable example of an aircraft that successfully achieves these goals. When comparing the Concorde and Boeing 777, it becomes evident that their respective eras had significantly different paradigms. Factors that were once crucial during the time of the Concorde have now become outdated and incompatible. This has caused a major shift in the airline industry’s paradigm. In conclusion, Kuhn’s philosophy of the Paradigm Shift remains highly relevant in today’s business world, especially within the context of the airline industry.

According to Kuhn’s theory of Paradigm Shift, the presence of two distinct paradigms from different eras demonstrates its applicability. The old paradigm, focused on fast airplanes with high fuel consumption, low passenger capacity, and short travel distance, is now incompatible and outdated. It has been replaced by a new paradigm that prioritizes efficient airplanes with high passenger capacity and long travel distance. These two paradigms are incomparable and lack common factors, aligning with the theory of Incommensurability.

History is significant in this context because without the previous paradigm, the new paradigm would not have emerged. This is because a crisis and scientific revolution are required for the creation of a new paradigm. For instance, the airline industry enhanced passenger comfort by addressing past complaints. They utilized historical data to make improvements in passenger comfort. To establish a connection between a paradigm shift and a case in IBA, it is necessary to demonstrate that there has been a shift from the old paradigm to the new paradigm, rendering the old one irrelevant.

Reference List:

De Regt, H. (2012). Lecture 6: My Window on the World. Tilburg University lecture slides.

Dooremalen, H., De Regt, H., and Schouten, M. (2007/2009) present an introduction to the philosophy of the social sciences in their book “Exploring Humans: An Introduction to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences.” The publication was released by Uitgeverij Boom in Amsterdam.

The publication “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by T.S. Kuhn (1962) is available from the University of Chicago Press in Chicago.The source of the information is a webpage about Concorde, which can be found at

* Boeing 777 can be found at this link.* 777 Families can be found at this link.

The information on gasoline prices, adjusted for inflation, can be found at

The Concorde has retired. Retrieved from

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics provides data on fuel consumption by mode of transportation in physical units. You can find this information at

For detailed information about the flying experience in the 1960s, including a URL to a webpage, visit

Fred L. Jr., S., & Braden, C. (n.d.). Airline deregulation. Retrieved from

The information on the Concorde passenger experience can be found at

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