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The same old methodologies? Perspectives on OM research in the post‐lean age

Bart L. MacCarthy (Nottingham University Business School, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Michael Lewis (University of Bath School of Management, Bath, UK)
Chris Voss (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Ram Narasimhan (Department of Supply Chain Management, Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 14 June 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The world is changing – economically, technologically, politically, and socially. As an academic discipline, operations management (OM) is, almost by definition, close to practice. Are our OM research methods fit for purpose for the new age? This paper reflects on and develops the principal themes discussed in the “OM Methodology” Special Session at the 2011 EurOMA Conference in Cambridge, UK. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The emerging landscape in which future OM research will be conducted is discussed. The paper provides a range of perspectives on the research challenges facing the discipline with respect to what the authors research and how the authors research it. The range of methods open to us and their relative merits and challenges are debated.

Findings

The traditional research divide between quantitative modelling, often normative in outlook, and the more reflective modes of qualitative enquiry, with a wide spectrum of empirical work in between, is reflected in the different academic traditions, groupings, conferences, and publications across the discipline. Research should not be driven by methodological convenience but by the needs of a changing world. Rather than a sterile “quants versus qual” debate, the paper argues that a rich diversity of approaches can provide a reinforcing cycle to generate relevant, interesting and exciting research underpinned by robust and valid theory.

Originality/value

The paper presents detailed reflections from leading researchers on contemporary and future OM research, arguing that research approaches must evolve that reflect the new realities to further enhance OM as a theoretically sound and practically relevant discipline.

Keywords

Citation

MacCarthy, B.L., Lewis, M., Voss, C. and Narasimhan, R. (2013), "The same old methodologies? Perspectives on OM research in the post‐lean age", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 934-956. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-08-2013-0373

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited