Dr Viktor Dorfler

Senior Lecturer

Management Science

Personal statement

I am a Senior Lecturer in Information & Knowledge Management at the Department of Management Science, University of Strathclyde Business School, UK. My research is focused on personal and transpersonal knowledge, learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), with an emphasis on knowledge-based expert systems, intuition and creativity. In research and teaching, I synthesize my backgrounds in philosophy and engineering to make sense of human expertise and the use of AI in organisational contexts. I have been appointed member of the British Standard Institutions Artificial Intelligence Committee (BSI ART/001).

In a recent project, I conducted in-depth open-ended interviews with 20 expert scientists, including 17 Nobel Laureates and 2 Eckert-Mauchly Award winners, in order to understand the thinking and learning of those at the highest level of expertise.

1999-2004 I was spearheading the development of an AI software called Doctus, one of the best knowledge-based expert system shells in the world. In my research on knowledge modelling, I create new algorithms, compare various AI solutions, and explore the validity of AI. This research serves as a foundation for the development of the Doctus software. In my consultancy work as a knowledge engineer for the banking, healthcare, telecommunications industries and the government sector, I use Doctus to support complex decisions through modelling expert knowledge.

My paper ‘Thinking together: What makes Communities of Practice work?’ became an instant classic, and is continuously one of the most read and most cited papers in Human Relations. Another paper ‘Understanding intuition: The case for two forms of intuition’ is one of the most read articles in Management Learning. To date, I have written 25 journal papers, two books, 12 book chapters, and about 100 conference papers and recently co-edited the Handbook of Research Methods on Creativity. I serve on the editorial board of Management Learning.

Over the last two and half years, I delivered 20 keynote and public talks on Human Mind and AI in New York, London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Lausanne, Birmingham, and Budapest, as well as a TEDx talk. My most recent talk in London is available from my YouTube channel. Based on my 20+ years of research, consultancy and teaching, I argue that in the areas requiring original thinking, extraordinary achievements will come from smart people being supported by smart technology.


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Has expertise in:

    My research, teaching and knowledge exchange activities are intertwined.  In my teaching I use my research results as well as illustrative examples from my consultancy, my consultancy is informed by my research and also provides data as well as new ideas for further research and also on how to teach particular topics, and so forth in cycles.  In this sense my expertise can be divided into two main areas:

    Knowledge and Knowing

    I have done a great deal of research into the personal as well as trans-personal aspects of knowledge and knowing and also worked with various organisations on making better use of what they know.  The particular topics include creativity and intuition at personal level, and my focus at the trans-personal level is on Communities of Practice (CoPs).  These topics have strong links to the following topics on supporting these knowing processes with IS/ICT.

    Artificial Intelligence

    My research has served as basis for developing the Doctus KBS; in harmony with the above, the focus is on creating qualitative models of expert-level knowledge.  I was leading the development of the software for many years, and as knowledge engineer I used it for supporting knowledge workers in general and decision takers in particular in a wide range of decision situations, including outsourcing, product launch, tendering (both applying for tenders as well as evaluating applications), performance evaluation for knowledge workers, medical diagnosis, R&D decisions, and credit risk evaluation.

Prizes and awards

Best Developmental Paper BAM2019 Research Methodology SIG
Best Reviewer BAM2019 Research Methodology SIG
Best Developmental Paper BAM2018 Research Methodology SIG
Best Reviewer BAM2018 Research Methodology SIG
Strathclyde Teaching Excellence Award 2018
Best Reviewer BAM2017 Research Methodology SIG

More prizes and awards


Methodological and emotional challenges of studying traumatic experiences
Miralles Megane, Stierand Marc Benjamin, Lee Bill, Dörfler Viktor
BAM 2020: 34th Annual Conference of the British Academy of Management (2020)
Bracketing : a phenomenological theory applied through transpersonal reflexivity
Dörfler Viktor, Stierand Marc
Journal of Organizational Change Management (2020)
Handbook of Research Methods on Creativity
Dörfler Viktor, Stierand Marc
Handbooks of Research Methods in Management Handbooks of Research Methods in Management (2020)
Introduction to the Handbook of Research Methods on Creativity
Dörfler Viktor, Stierand Marc
Handbook of Research Methods on Creativity (2020) (2020)
Investigating the potential for using gamification to empower knowledge workers
Spanellis Agnessa, Dörfler Viktor, MacBryde Jillian
Expert Systems with Applications Vol 160 (2020)
Intuition : scientific, non-scientific or unscientific?
Dörfler Viktor, Bas Alina Isabelle
Handbook of Intuition Research as Practice (2020) (2020)

More publications


Knowledge & Innovation Management (UG, MOOC)

I have recently developed a new knowledge and innovation management course organised around four themes: the structure of personal knowledge, the processes of personal knowing, the organisational aspects of knowledge management, and innovation in organisations.  This topic also served as the starting point for developing my first MOOC ‘Understanding Modern Business & Organisations’.

Information & Technology Management (UG, MSc, MBA, MOOC)

Teaching information systems from a managerial perspective in organisational context, my focus in Information Management is on the human-computer connection; i.e. what should be computerised and what left to humans.  The covered technologies range from databases through expert systems, corporate portals and social media and collaboration tools to smart technologies and artificial intelligence.  The most recent development of this topic is embodied in my second MOOC ‘Understanding Information & Technology Today’.

Making Strategy (MBA)

This class originally developed by Prof Colin Eden at Strathclyde, focuses on the process of strategy making using causal maps as transitional objects.  The process is formalised, governed by procedural justice and procedural rationality.  In this class ‘strategy’ is about agreeing where to focus energy, cash, effort, and emotion.  Making Strategy is rooted in the personal construct theory, the resource-based view, competence-based management, emergent strategising, and solving messy problems.

Research Philosophy (doctoral level)

This is a compulsory module for all the research students at the University of Strathclyde Business School. A 5-day intensive classroom-based course is followed by a prolonged online collaborative learning in a virtual learning environment. I encourage students to develop their philosophical stance through independent thinking rather than finding their boxes.

Research interests

My ambitious aim is to develop a dynamic model and possibly theory of cognition.  I have developed, with my collaborators, a model of knowledge levels which serves as a conceptual framework for the empirical investigation into the highest ‘grandmaster’ level of knowledge.  To this end I conducted 20 in-depth unstructured interviews with grandmasters (17 with Nobel Laureates).

My research in knowledge modelling underlies the development of the Doctus knowledge-based expert system (KBS); resulting in new algorithms, software design, etc.  Conversely, I use Doctus as a modelling tool in various other research topics.  The process of knowledge engineering is also a research topic on its own right.

Towards a Dynamic Theory of Knowledge

Models of Personal Knowledge

  • Types of personal knowledge
  • Levels of personal knowledge
  • Intuition, creativity and cognition

Models of Personal Knowing Processes

  • Intuitive and integrated rationality
  • Learning willingness, capability, and attention
  • Processes of knowledge increase

Models of Trans-Personal Knowing Processes

  • Knowledge sharing and creation
  • Master-apprentice relationship
  • Executive coaching

Knowledge-Based Expert Systems and other Intelligent Applications

Developing Intelligent Systems

  • Reductive reasoning in Doctus KBS
  • Hybrid intelligent systems
  • Modelling with Doctus KBS

Developing Knowledge Visualisation Solutions

  • 3D concept mapping: Doctus Knowledge Galaxy
  • Knowledge-based decision support for today’s leaders
  • GUI design principles in software applications

Research Philosophy and Methods

Research Philosophy and Research Methods

  • Investigating the extraordinary
  • Structured thought experiments by knowledge-based systems
  • Against methods


Philosophy and Methods of Teaching and Learning

  • Online teaching and learning
  • Gurus, masters, and talented disciples
  • Post-experiential, post-MBA education

Professional activities

Academy of Management Learning and Education (Journal)
Editorial board member
British Standards Institution: The Digital World: AI
Keynote/plenary speaker
Artificial Intelligence vs human mind: what is the impact of our decisions in the field of AI, and therefore in our environment?
KnowledgeBrief Hot Topic
Keynote/plenary speaker
EURAM 2020: 20th Annual Conference of the European Academy of Management
Research Ethics: Friend or Foe

More professional activities


Threshold Concepts across Knowledge Levels – Insights from How These Occur within Autistic People
Dorfler, Viktor (Principal Investigator) Harrington, Susan (Post Grad Student) Akartunali, Kerem (Research Co-investigator)
Knowledge Management with System Thinking
Dorfler, Viktor (Principal Investigator) MacBryde, Jillian (Co-investigator) Shpakova, Agnessa (Post Grad Student)
Knowledge Management (KM) has been extensively researched for more than two decades, however the academic literature is still quite disjoined and fragmented. Companies keep facing repetitive KM-related problems that come at high cost, and the solutions that they find are often reduced to installing a new software package that is expected to facilitate knowledge flow across an organisation.
This research departs from a problem observed in practice – a failed KM project in an innovative company, and aims at understanding the reasons behind this failure. It then investigates KM within some of the most innovative companies in the energy sector in an attempt to address the questions found in practice and not answered by the academic literature. Subsequently it sets the following research goals, which help to address identified gaps in the literature: (1) to understand the KM journey that companies undertake, (2) to define the role of technology in this journey, and (2) to explore gamification as a possible contributing aspect of a developed solution.
The research adopts an iterative approach in a form of continuous dialogue between theory and practice, with multiple case study analysis as the research design of the main part of the empirical investigation. And as a result, it develops an organic roadmap of KM that depicts an evolution of KM in innovative companies at the example of the energy sector.
This research contributes of the body of knowledge by:
1. Describing a KM journey that innovative companies in the energy sector undertake in order to achieve excellence, and that consists of three phases: managing explicit knowledge, knowledge sharing and creating new knowledge.
2. Demonstrating that technological component (document repositories) is central to KM only in the first phase and becomes peripheral (with the most useful tool being wikis) starting from the second phase.
3. Opening a new area of research and suggesting that gamification might have a significant impact on KM that stretches far beyond motivation.
4. Questioning that maturity models are an appropriate framework to study the evolution of KM in an organisation.
The research contributes to practice by demonstrating that KM is a learning process rather than a one-time initiative and by creating realistic expectations from the technological support.
The extent of the contribution was discussed with the companies-participants of this study and the board of directors at Durham Energy Institute, being a validation of the findings.
01-Jan-2013 - 04-Jan-2018
Hot Spots for Knowledge Sharing in Healthcare
Dorfler, Viktor (Principal Investigator) Eden, Colin (Co-investigator) Pyrko, Igor (Post Grad Student)
01-Jan-2011 - 10-Jan-2014
Grandmaster Project 1
Dorfler, Viktor (Principal Investigator) Eden, Colin (Co-investigator)
This project explores the cognitive complexity of people at the highest level of knowledge. The background to the project is a conceptual model of knowledge levels which identifies the highest level of knowledge as 'Grandmaster' level. The underlying assumption of the project is that people who got awarded the highest prize in their respective fields, such as the Nobel Prize, achieved the highest level of knowledge in their discipline - they are grandmasters.
01-Jan-2009 - 30-Jan-2015
Internal Skills Training Provision for Research Students and Post Doctorates
Quigley, John (Principal Investigator) Dorfler, Viktor (Co-investigator) Ramsay, Howard (Technician)
01-Jan-2007 - 30-Jan-2008

More projects