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Post Modernism and Management

ISBN: 978-0-76231-004-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-573-4

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 31 December 2003


During the last 10 years, there have been several calls for a postmodern epistemology in organization studies (e.g. Hassard, 1994; Kilduff & Mehra, 1997). While most organization studies researchers would probably not think of themselves as postmodernists, one response to these calls is that the callers are preaching to the already converted. That is, the implicit norms that govern what are considered desirable scholarly contributions in organization studies today already bear the stamp of a postmodern epistemology. It is an epistemology that has not been consciously adopted by most organization studies scholars, but nevertheless has left its imprint on their work. The purpose of this chapter is to develop that argument, focusing first on three scholarly norms that are prominent in contemporary organization studies. These three scholarly norms are: (1) the positive valuation of the attribute “insight”; (2) the use and positive valuation of broad-scope theoretical constructs; and (3) the positive valuation of multiple schools of thought. I will discuss each of these norms in turn and argue that each is consistent with, and supported by, underlying currents of thought in postmodernist epistemology. I will identify the elements of postmodernist epistemology that I believe support each norm and then critically appraise the norm in light of reservations I have about postmodernist thought. While the three norms identified above certainly do not cover the entire range of scholarly “best practices” in organization studies today, I believe they are sufficient to illustrate the link between everyday scholarly practice in the discipline and postmodernist views of knowledge.


McKinley, W. (2003), "POSTMODERN EPISTEMOLOGY IN ORGANIZATION STUDIES: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL", Locke, E.A. (Ed.) Post Modernism and Management (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 203-225.



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