Introduction: philosophy in organization studies - life, knowledge and disruption

Raza Mir, Hugh Willmott, Michelle Greenwood

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It could be argued that when the philosophical foundations of organizational research get debated, the community of organizational scholars divides into two broad camps. First there are those who would rather not engage with what they regard as irrelevant or tiresome abstractions. For them, the only priority is that of ‘application’, of consensus building, of paradigmatic unity and incremental advancement. A comparatively thoughtful articulation of this view was advanced in the 1990s by Jeffrey Pfeffer who implicitly critiqued ‘values that emphasize representativeness, inclusiveness, and theoretical and methodological diversity’ in organization science because, he declared, they produce negative ‘consequences for the field’s ability to make scientific progress, which almost requires some level of consensus, as well as for its likely ability to compete successfully with adjacent social sciences such as economics in the contest for resources’ (Pfeffer, 1993: 599). Likewise, Lex Donaldson has declared that paradigm profusion in the field has left it ‘fragmented’ and littered with approaches that ‘share an anti-management quality, painting managers in an increasingly negative light’ (Donaldson, 1995: 1). Such vigorous and explicit defences of paradigmatic unity may have abated somewhat, in part because of the rise of a countervailing advocacy of paradigmatic plurality (Willmott, 1993), yet the mainstreams ofmanagement theory continue to dismiss, or exhibit impatience with, philosophical inquiry. This thinly veiled hostility is evidenced by calls within strategic management to retain ‘firm performance’ as a dependent variable in all research (see Bowen and Wiersema, 1999 for an analysis), or the exhortations towards implicitly positivist ‘evidence-based research’ in management inquiry (Kepes et al., 2014).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Philosophy in Organization Studies
EditorsRaza Mir, Hugh Willmott, Michelle Greenwood
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780203795248
ISBN (Print)9780415702867
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameRoutledge Companions in Business, Management and Accounting

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