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Rigour in research: theory in the research approach

Alan Johnston (YSJ Business School, York St John University, York, UK)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 6 May 2014




The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the importance of theory in research. The paper focuses on discussing the underlying principles that influence the research approach.


This is a theoretical paper that discusses the importance of theory in research and opens up the area for discussion and debate.


The paper contributes to the research methodology literature by adopting a sense making perspective, and focusing on the ontological and epistemological dimension of research. The paper furthers the debate on the link between theory and research, as the basis for developing further theory.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides a limited focus to management research and has not at this stage engaged in any practical testing of the ideas.

Practical implications

There is an opportunity for changing practice at a variety of levels in engaging with research. These include implications for researchers, teachers, students and practitioners.


The paper re-emphasises the importance in understanding philosophical concerns which underpins research activity. It is designed as a tool for discussion and guidance.



Johnston, A. (2014), "Rigour in research: theory in the research approach", European Business Review, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 206-217.



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