Philosophy of science, social theory, and organizational analysis: paradigmatic transformations since the postmodern turn

John Hassard, Julie Wolfram Cox

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The premise for this volume is that there is “a need to develop a Handbook that takes scholars and practitioners through the paradigm change going on in the field of management and organizational inquiry.” In their invitation to contributors, the editors suggested we should comment on this transition and inform readers of theoretical and philosophical changes that have occurred in recent times. In this chapter, we attempt to do this by revisiting the influential concept of paradigm from the philosophy of science (Kuhn, 1962, 1970) and explore its relation to recent contributions to postmodern social theory in organizational analysis. In particular, the influential paradigm model of Burrell and Morgan (1979) is revisited through meta-theoretical analysis of the major intellectual movement to emerge in organization theory in recent decades, post-structuralism and more broadly postmodernism. Proposing a retrospective paradigm for this movement we suggest that its research can be characterized as ontologically relativist, epistemologically relationist, and methodologically reflexive; this also represents research that can be termed deconstructionist in its view of human nature. Consequently we demonstrate not only that organizational knowledge stands on meta-theoretical grounds, but also how recent intellectual developments rest on a qualitatively different set of meta-theoretical assumptions than established traditions of agency and structure.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emerald Handbook of Management and Organization Inquiry
EditorsDavid M. Boje, Mabel Sanchez
Place of PublicationBingley UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781787145511, 9781787149724
ISBN (Print)9781787145528
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Meta-theoretical assumptions
  • Organization theory
  • Paradigms
  • Philosophy of science
  • Postmodernism
  • Social theory

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