We propose that management scholars can improve their research by triangulating alternative philosophies of science to gain a richer and more holistic understanding of complex managerial problems. We illustrate the proposition by triangulating with three scientific philosophies – positivism, postmodernism, and critical realism – to design a study in response to a debate in the sociology of professions. After summarizing and applying positivism, postmodernism, and critical realism to reveal their differing research approaches, we discuss how to deal with the convergent and divergent information often produced by triangulating philosophies of science. Although common views of triangulation emphasize reliability by focusing on convergent information from different methods, we emphasize validity by discussing how divergent information from different methods reveal important aspects and values of a complex phenomenon that often go unrecognized without triangulation.
Bechara, J. and Van de Ven, A.H. (2011), "Triangulating philosophies of science to understand complex organizational and managerial problems", Tsoukas, H. and Chia, R. (Ed.) Philosophy and Organization Theory (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 32), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 343-364. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X(2011)0000032014
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