Paradigm “wars” as methodenstreit: Methodology of management studies meets economic methodology

Matthias Klaes (Keele Management School, Keele University, Keele, UK)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Publication date: 9 March 2012



This paper is concerned with the quantitative/qualitative divide as a particular feature of recent methodological debate in organization research. While substantively this divide is questionable and problematic, it has figured prominently in the so‐called “paradigm wars”. The purpose of this paper is to relate these controversies to a similar debate in economics and draw out the implications of this comparison for the methodological practice of organization research.


The paper takes the form of a conceptual critique.


The paradigms debate can be interpreted as a twentieth‐century instance of the methodenstreit in nineteenth‐century social science, and is argued to resolve along the faultlines of mainline organizational analysis and its periphery. Further methodological progress in the field requires the abandoning of paradigmatic duality in recognition of methodological plurality as a defining feature of organization research.


Management methodology and economic methodology have largely developed as separate literatures alongside each other, with little cross‐fertilisation. This paper links key issues in management methodology to longstanding debates in economic methodology, thereby making progress towards a shared debate on issues of equal significance to both fields of inquiry.



Klaes, M. (2012), "Paradigm “wars” as methodenstreit: Methodology of management studies meets economic methodology", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 13-24.

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