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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1999

William A. Jackson

Dualism ‐ the division of an object of study into separate, paired elements ‐ is widespread in economic and social theorising: key examples are the divisions between…

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1980

Abstract

Dualism ‐ the division of an object of study into separate, paired elements ‐ is widespread in economic and social theorising: key examples are the divisions between agency and structure, the individual and society, mind and body, values and facts, and knowledge and practice. In recent years, dualism has been criticised as exaggerating conceptual divisions and promoting an oversimplified, reductive outlook. A possible alternative to dualism is the notion of duality, derived from Giddens’s structuration theory, whereby the two elements are interdependent and no longer separate or opposed, although they remain conceptually distinct. This paper argues that duality, if handled carefully, can provide a superior framework to dualism for dealing with the complexity of economic and social institutions. Its main attraction is not its twofold character, which might profitably be relaxed where appropriate, but its ability to envisage a thoroughgoing interdependence of conceptually distinct elements.

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International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 5 May 2015

Robert Lee and Oswald Jones

While there is a large volume of entrepreneurial social capital research, the philosophical assumptions have received limited attention. The purpose of this paper is to…

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1474

Abstract

Purpose

While there is a large volume of entrepreneurial social capital research, the philosophical assumptions have received limited attention. The purpose of this paper is to review and classify entrepreneurial social capital studies according to the following approaches – objectivist (positivist-realist, structuralist) and subjectivist (social constructionist). There is a neglect of structure and agency, and the authors encourage a critical realist approach that permits an understanding of observable network structure, constraint-order and human agency as a dynamic system.

Design/methodology/approach

The ontological and epistemological assumptions, and associated strengths and weaknesses of objectivist (positivist-realist, structuralist) and subjectivist (social constructionist) entrepreneurial social capital studies are discussed. The case for a more progressive critical realist approach is developed.

Findings

The authors demonstrate that objectivist (positivist-realist, structuralist) research with findings bereft of situated meaning and agency dominates. The emergence of subjectivist research – narratively examining different network situations from the perspective of those embedded in networks – is an emerging and competing approach. This dualism is unlikely to comprehensively understand the complex system-level properties of social capital. Future research should adopt critical realism and fuse: objective data to demonstrate the material aspects of network structures and what structural social capital exists in particular settings; and subjective data that enhances an understanding of situated meaning, agency and intention in a network.

Originality/value

This paper contributes a review of entrepreneurial social capital research and philosophical foundations. The development of a critical realist approach to understanding social capital gestation permits a system-level analysis of network structure influencing conduct, and agency.

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International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

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Article
Publication date: 21 October 2013

Prem Sikka and Hugh Willmott

– The paper aims to examine the involvement of global accountancy firms in devising and selling tax avoidance schemes euphemistically marketed as “tax planning”.

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5214

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to examine the involvement of global accountancy firms in devising and selling tax avoidance schemes euphemistically marketed as “tax planning”.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws upon a range of secondary sources, including legal cases and government reports, to demonstrate how “tax planning” involves “wilful blindness” to complicity in dubious and sometimes fraudulent activity.

Findings

The study reveals in detail the construction and promotion of elaborate tax avoidance schemes by big accounting firms. It casts doubt upon the “business culture” that has become established in these firms.

Research limitations/implications

The study relies upon secondary sources. Subject to gaining adequate access to the big accounting firms, research based upon close-up investigation of “tax planning” would further illuminate such practices.

Practical implications

The study shows how normalised and institutionalised “tax planning” schemes have become in the big four accounting firms. It suggests that such schemes require closer scrutiny if payments of tax are to be made as intended, and thereby provide the revenues required to maintain public services such as education, health and pensions.

Social implications

The study informs a debate about the payment of taxes and the role of big accounting firms in creating aggressive tax avoidance schemes. It questions the appropriateness and adequacy of private regulation of these firms and so contributes to a public debate on the tax contribution of comparatively powerful and privileged parties.

Originality/value

The study “blows the whistle” on the role of big accounting firms in devising schemes that reduce the “tax take” on business and thereby reduces the revenues required to provide and maintain public services.

Details

critical perspectives on international business, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2003

Oswald Jones

TCS (previously the Teaching Company Scheme), claimed to be the UKs premier technology transfer mechanism, employs recent graduates to improve the competitiveness of…

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5358

Abstract

TCS (previously the Teaching Company Scheme), claimed to be the UKs premier technology transfer mechanism, employs recent graduates to improve the competitiveness of primarily small and medium‐sized enterprises. The data are drawn from the author's experience of acting as academic supervisor on a two‐year TCS programme in PaperProds. Structuration theory acts as a “sensitising device” to the way in which the actions and discourses of owner‐managers in small firms exercise power. The author demonstrates the way in which managerial concerns with the “bottom line” gradually subverts broader conceptions of company “competitiveness” which include improving the skills, knowledge and commitment of shopfloor employees. In this particular programme the TCS associate found that he constantly had to reconcile the managing director's view that workers were disposable factors of production with his own implicitly “humanist” perspective.

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International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 9 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2019

Mercedes Luque-Vílchez, Enrique Mesa-Pérez, Javier Husillos and Carlos Larrinaga

The purpose of this paper is to examine in greater depth the influence of internal factors on the disclosure of environmental information by companies. The influence of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine in greater depth the influence of internal factors on the disclosure of environmental information by companies. The influence of pro-environmental managers´ personal values on environmental disclosure quality is analyzed and the extent to which the influence of those values is mediated by the practices associated with the environmental organizational structure of the company.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use a partial least squares structural equation model to analyze the relationship between the quality of the environmental information disclosed by 137 environmentally sensitive Spanish firms, their level of commitment towards the environment and the personal values of the directors in charge of those reports.

Findings

A central finding of this work is that a positive relationship between the pro-environmental managers’ personal values and environmental disclosure quality is fully mediated by the environmental organizational structures of their companies.

Practical implications

A better understanding of the relationship between the personal values of managers and corporate environmental reporting quality will contribute to the design of policies that can enhance firm transparency and accountability, for example, by educating future managers in sustainability values.

Social implications

Light is cast on the mechanisms that can enhance corporate transparency and accountability in relation to environmental matters.

Originality/value

In this paper, a quantitative study of the internal driving forces of environmental disclosure is conducted, an aspect that has often been ignored in the literature on quantitative voluntary social reporting. The merit of this approach is its contribution to the literature through the analysis of the reasons why powerful actors within firms could (or could not) develop corporate social reporting practices.

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Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 10 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Book part
Publication date: 6 June 2019

John Hassard and Julie Wolfram Cox

The premise for this volume is that there is “a need to develop a Handbook that takes scholars and practitioners through the paradigm change going on in the field of…

Abstract

The premise for this volume is that there is “a need to develop a Handbook that takes scholars and practitioners through the paradigm change going on in the field of management and organizational inquiry.” In their invitation to contributors, the editors suggested we should comment on this transition and inform readers of theoretical and philosophical changes that have occurred in recent times. In this chapter, we attempt to do this by revisiting the influential concept of paradigm from the philosophy of science (Kuhn, 1962, 1970) and explore its relation to recent contributions to postmodern social theory in organizational analysis. In particular, the influential paradigm model of Burrell and Morgan (1979) is revisited through meta-theoretical analysis of the major intellectual movement to emerge in organization theory in recent decades, post-structuralism and more broadly postmodernism. Proposing a retrospective paradigm for this movement we suggest that its research can be characterized as ontologically relativist, epistemologically relationist, and methodologically reflexive; this also represents research that can be termed deconstructionist in its view of human nature. Consequently we demonstrate not only that organizational knowledge stands on meta-theoretical grounds, but also how recent intellectual developments rest on a qualitatively different set of meta-theoretical assumptions than established traditions of agency and structure.

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The Emerald Handbook of Management and Organization Inquiry
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-552-8

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Article
Publication date: 27 February 2009

Neal King and Toni Calasanti

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the argument that scholars' imputations of agency serve modern professional/institutional purposes other than the refinement of…

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750

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the argument that scholars' imputations of agency serve modern professional/institutional purposes other than the refinement of testable theories.

Design/methodology/approach

Data include articles from twenty‐first century issues of four gerontological journals. Content analysis involved coding articles for imputations of agency, constructivist analysis thereof, and the parties to whom authors directed their imputations.

Findings

Most authors rehearse theories of “structuration” and call for more imputations of agency to old people. They do this without imputing agency to privileged groups or to policy makers; and without settling theoretical question of how much agency people have or how scientists could demonstrate that. One article in ten provides constructivist critique.

Research limitations/implications

Patterns in imputations of agency in other scholarly realms (such as books) may support another interpretation.

Practical implications

Scholars should treat their imputations of agency as political activities and not refinements of testable theories. They position professional scholars as advocates for an oppressed group.

Originality/value

This paper provides a sociological context for interpreting routine imputations of agency in social scientific and humanist scholarship.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 29 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 16 July 2018

Hamish Simmonds

This paper aims to critically reflect on the growing systems orientation in marketing research and the approaches used to understand marketing systems. In response, the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to critically reflect on the growing systems orientation in marketing research and the approaches used to understand marketing systems. In response, the paper offers an integrative metatheory built on the ontic necessity and subsequently constitutive and causal efficacy of relations.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper is built on a logic of critique, identifying the generative absences that produce problems in the frameworks in use and attempting to rectify these problems by offering an alternative meta-theoretical structure. This paper draws from critical realism, systems thinking and relational sociology.

Findings

This paper advocates for an emergentist ontology for marketing systems built on the value of both substance and relation as co-principles of existence and the subsequent irreducible stratification derived from this. This position suggests the following propositions: the ontological premise of being is reliant on relations; the social world is constructed of stratified levels of organisation in which entities, their properties and powers emerge by virtue of these relations; these entities operate in complex and mutually modifying interrelations; stability and change is the result of this complex interplay of temporally/spatially stratified relations; and time and space are properties and potential powers of organisation.

Originality/value

This paper considers a number of inconsistencies in current approaches to the study of marketing systems arguing these arise based on the absence of a view of relations that supports an effective theory of emergence. In response, the paper develops a set of ontological presuppositions regarding the nature of marketing systems and a subsequent set of epistemic conditions as an integrative metatheoretical position, through which these systems are better understood and analysed. The paper argues that these improve our ability to theorise about the multi-dimensionality of these systems.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 47 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 21 August 2017

John Hassard, Paula Hyde, Julie Wolfram Cox, Edward Granter and Leo McCann

The purpose of this paper is to describe a hybrid approach to the research developed during a multi-researcher, ethnographic study of NHS management in the UK.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe a hybrid approach to the research developed during a multi-researcher, ethnographic study of NHS management in the UK.

Design/methodology/approach

This methodological paper elaborates a hybrid approach to the sociological analysis – the critical-action theory – and indicates how it can contribute to the critical health management studies.

Findings

After exploring the various theoretical, methodological and philosophical options available, the paper discusses the main research issues that influenced the development of this perspective and the process by which the critical-action perspective was applied to the studies of managerial work in four health service sectors – acute hospitals, ambulance services, community services and mental healthcare.

Research limitations/implications

This methodological perspective enabled a critical analysis of health service organisation that considered macro, meso and micro effects, in particular and in this case, how new public management drained power from clinicians through managerialist discourses and practices.

Practical implications

Healthcare organisations are often responding to the decisions that lie outside of their control and may have to enact changes that make little sense locally. In order to make sense of these effects, micro-, meso- and macro-level analyses are necessary.

Originality/value

The critical-action perspective is presented as an adjunct to traditional approaches that have been taken to the study of health service organisation and delivery.

Details

Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 31 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7266

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2008

Kelum Jayasinghe Dennis Thomas and Danture Wickramasinghe

The purpose of this paper is to advocate the employment of “bounded emotionality”, as borrowed from organisational studies on emotionality, as an alternative framework to…

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2081

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to advocate the employment of “bounded emotionality”, as borrowed from organisational studies on emotionality, as an alternative framework to examine and understand entrepreneurial behaviour and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors review the debate and trends in entrepreneurship research with particular regard to structure and agency. They then argue that the application of Mumby and Putnam's concept of “bounded emotionality” strengthens the critical tradition and particularly contributes to that strand which utilises Giddens' structuration theory by explicitly treating the emotional aspects of entrepreneurial behaviour that operate outside the consciousness of individual agency.

Findings

The adoption of an alternative methodological framework, involving “bounded emotionality”, within a broad socio‐cutural and political‐economic perspective, can assist policy makers to rethink their generalised approach to the design and implementation of specific programmes and initiatives to support entrepreneurial development in favour of devising alternative approaches to fit particular contexts and localised settings.

Research limitations/implications

This theoretical paper contributes to the critical debate in entrepreneurial research, which advocates the need for an alternative, more socialised approach that attempts to account for the relationship between social structure and individual entrepreneurial action.

Originality/value

The paper contains the first attempt to apply the concept of “bounded rationality” to entrepreneurship research.

Details

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1355-2554

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