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Article
Publication date: 5 January 2021

David Eriksson and Annika Engström

Operations and supply chain management (OSCM) is a theoretically and philosophically fragmented field. Researchers must consider how they use theory and explain empirical…

Abstract

Purpose

Operations and supply chain management (OSCM) is a theoretically and philosophically fragmented field. Researchers must consider how they use theory and explain empirical phenomena. This paper aims to use critical realism to introduce more coherence into this fragmented field.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on existing critical realism and abduction literature and this study uses a research process from two PhD projects to investigate critical realism’s role in OSCM research. This paper uses a narrative approach to collect data over a long timeframe, capturing data not commonly used in OSCM research.

Findings

Research that struggles to bridge the gap between theory and data benefits from critical realism, which provides a philosophy and associated methods to identify a suitable theory and guide researchers when they encounter obstacles. While clear steps often outline established methods, researchers are sometimes unable to identify when their research process has reached an obstacle. This paper argues that such obstacles can be treated as “crossroads” offering new research opportunities when correctly evaluated and addressed.

Research limitations/implications

Importantly, researchers should be able to reflect upon their own research processes, enabling a better understanding of these processes and the discovery of new research directions. Researchers can use critical realism, abduction and systematic combining to bridge the divide between theory and data in OSCM.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the field’s discussion regarding the roles of critical realism and abduction, synthesizing multiple academic sources, highlighting critical realism’s importance and providing a novel means of addressing difficulties in navigating an eclectic research area. This paper offers a philosophical alternate to the field, which is often instead considered from a positivistic standpoint. The paper is valuable to researchers in the OSCM field, who can use the research to improve their selection of data and theories, as well as their understanding of their own research processes.

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Article
Publication date: 30 October 2019

Jane Baxter and Wai Fong Chua

The purpose of this paper is to respond to Modell’s arguments regarding the relative usefulness of critical realist philosophy in relation to actor-network theory.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to respond to Modell’s arguments regarding the relative usefulness of critical realist philosophy in relation to actor-network theory.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors outline the challenges in applying critical realism to critical accounting. The authors then consider Modell’s criticisms of actor-network theory, providing a counterargument highlighting the methodological choices distinguishing actor-network theory from critical realism.

Findings

The authors argue that critical realism, whilst providing an interesting addition to the critical accounting research project, confronts challenges disentangling intransitive and transitive forms of knowledge. Actor-network theory is presented as a way of examining accounting practices as local associations, providing practical opportunities to study (the assembly of) “the social”.

Research limitations/implications

Methodological diversity is to be explored, acknowledging the ontological politics of our choices.

Originality/value

This paper is an original commentary contributing to critical accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 26 August 2010

Filipe J. Sousa

No scholar or researcher is able to provide robust evidence that counters the scant reflection on metatheory – mostly ontology and epistemology – underlying management…

Abstract

No scholar or researcher is able to provide robust evidence that counters the scant reflection on metatheory – mostly ontology and epistemology – underlying management studies in general, and industrial marketing and purchasing research in particular. This paper is a contribution to the indispensable discussion of metatheoretical alternatives in research, and most importantly, the strengths and shortcomings thereof, and respective implications on research questions, objectives, and findings.

Details

Organizational Culture, Business-to-Business Relationships, and Interfirm Networks
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-306-5

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Book part
Publication date: 27 July 2018

Timothy Rutzou

The relationship between ontology, realism, and normativity is complex and contentious. While naturalist and realist stances have tended to ground questions of normativity…

Abstract

The relationship between ontology, realism, and normativity is complex and contentious. While naturalist and realist stances have tended to ground questions of normativity in ontology and accounts of human nature, critical theories have been critical of the relationship between ontological and normative projects. Queer theory in particular has been critical of ontological endeavors. Exploring the problem of normativity and ontology, this paper will make the case that the critical realist ontology of open systems and complex, contingent, conjunctural causation deeply resonates with queer theory, generating a queer ontology that both allows for and undermines ontological and normative projects.

Details

Critical Realism, History, and Philosophy in the Social Sciences
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-604-0

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Book part
Publication date: 7 October 2019

Kirsten Brown, Edlyn Peña, Ellen Broido, Lissa Stapleton and Nancy Evans

We seek to expand the disability theoretical toolkits of higher education scholars to include frameworks that view disability as multivalent. We start by describing…

Abstract

We seek to expand the disability theoretical toolkits of higher education scholars to include frameworks that view disability as multivalent. We start by describing limitations scholars can encounter when employing traditional medical, social, and minority frameworks. Then, we draw upon: (1) the temporal and fluid understandings of disability in critical disability theory, (2) the value critical realism gives to the body, impairment, and the environment, and (3) the work of Deaf epistemologies to call attention to the varied communication methods disabled college students use to encourage the use of frameworks that promote intersectional understandings that are authentic to lived experiences. We extend scholars’ toolkits by encouraging the use of frameworks that value diverse human neurology and draw attention to the hegemonic dominance of Western thought. We conclude by discussing four implications and two limitations for higher education scholars.

Details

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-842-5

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Article
Publication date: 10 November 2020

Rami Al-Sharif

The aim of this paper is to develop an integrative model that explains how incorporating the two epistemological positions of critical realism and attribution theory can…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to develop an integrative model that explains how incorporating the two epistemological positions of critical realism and attribution theory can help qualitative organisational researchers better understand the reality of social actors through different lenses. In addition, the paper aims to demonstrate the application of the model through a study of organisational justice perceptions of elite Muslim professionals undergoing performance appraisal in the UK banking sector.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach adopted used semi-structured in-depth interviews with Muslim professionals in elite positions in UK Western and Islamic banks. Access to participants was secured through a process of purposive and snowball sampling, a tool often used to recruit hard-to-reach populations. The data were analysed through the integrative model developed in this paper.

Findings

The integration of critical realism and attribution theory provided different dimensionalities of social reality. Attribution theory enabled a systematic identification of social phenomena and their causal mechanisms, defined the characteristics of those mechanisms and highlighted who/what is responsible for and affected by them. Critical realism distinguished between causal mechanisms and the generative forces that help those mechanisms to be actualised and have effect.

Originality/value

The contribution of this paper is twofold. First, to the best of my knowledge, it is the first paper to build a novel integrative model of these two epistemologies. Second, it presents a detailed application of the model in a contemporary study of the perceptions of justice of Muslims in the UK banking sector.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 7 January 2019

Ryan Armstrong

The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of adopting a critical realist position for the study of performance measurement and management (PMM) systems.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of adopting a critical realist position for the study of performance measurement and management (PMM) systems.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper discusses recent challenges to knowledge creation in PMM, arguing that overcoming these will require revisiting often implicit philosophical assumptions related to how the world is and how we learn about it. A critical realist perspective is explored and illustrated with the case of a software company attempting to empower and motivate its team.

Findings

Critical realism provides a means of building interdisciplinary knowledge in PMM. In addition to a generative view of causality, critical realism could augment a systems view of PMM by adopting a stratified view of reality and through its applied approach to knowledge building. The case illustrates the RRREIC approach and highlights the interplay of mechanisms of different scales and how this requires interdisciplinarity.

Research limitations/implications

Approaching the study of PMM with critical realism requires going beyond a particular tool or practice to understand the theory behind it. Such an approach can facilitate a layered, nuanced analysis of the issues facing organizations in a changing context.

Originality/value

This paper adds to discussion of philosophical topics in management and PMM and could help resolve ongoing challenges to knowledge building in the field, especially around barriers to conducting interdisciplinary research. In combination with rigorous methods, a strong philosophical base can facilitate relevant, lasting theories that can respond to a changing organizational context.

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Article
Publication date: 16 June 2020

Frank Bogna, Aldo Raineri and Geoff Dell

Traditional approaches in qualitative research have adopted one research paradigm linked to an established typology. This paper addresses the unconventional application of…

Abstract

Purpose

Traditional approaches in qualitative research have adopted one research paradigm linked to an established typology. This paper addresses the unconventional application of two research paradigms in one study. A critical realist approach was used to augment a constructivist analysis of data in a research project seeking to explore the meaning that managers in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) attach to hazard identification, the construction of a hazard profile reflective of the business and its use in assisting to manage hazards within the SME's safety management system framework. Critical realism offered a complementary but essential framework to explore causal mechanisms that led to a deeper understanding of the findings by searching for the processes and causality that lay beneath the social and organizational phenomena observed.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper compares the two research paradigms in order to seek junctures and apply them to a research project. Analytical tools applied to each research paradigm within the project are presented, followed by a new multiparadigm conceptual model that integrates critical realism and constructivism, providing an original contribution of knowledge to this field of qualitative research.

Findings

The adoption of a multiparadigm model enabled not only the interpretation of social phenomena but also the determination of its causality, enabling a more insightful answering of the research question and leading to a deeper insight into the phenomenology that was studied. This research approach widens the boundaries of qualitative inquiry within organizational research by promoting strategies that challenge more traditionally anchored research typologies, and consequently contributes to better research outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

This study was conducted across four organizations. Similar research is encouraged across a greater number of case studies to validate the process of using a constructivist and critical realist paradigm to gain a more insightful understanding of events and their causality.

Practical implications

The comparison of two research paradigms and consequent provision of a conceptual model (Figure 3) provides potential for the development of further multiparadigm models for research projects within the field of organizational management.

Social implications

This paper has the potential to promote engagement and collaboration between research scholars seeking to explore the use of multiple research paradigms.

Originality/value

Such an approach has not previously been widely discussed or adopted to examine qualitative data, and advances theory in qualitative research. The application of two research paradigms using such an approach can be applied to businesses in a number of different contexts to gain a more insightful understanding of research participant perspectives, observable events arising from those perspectives and their associated causality.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 1 November 2006

Rana Sobh and Chad Perry

The aim of this paper is to apply principles of the realism paradigm within qualitative research projects.

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to apply principles of the realism paradigm within qualitative research projects.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper starts by establishing the usefulness of realism research for investigating marketing management phenomena, and then considers the implications of the realism paradigm for research design.

Findings

Issues such as the level of prior theory required, the use of replication logic and triangulation are discussed. In addition, guidelines for realism data analysis and reporting are developed.

Originality/value

This paper provides an explicit set of principles for realism research design and data analysis that is different from those in other types of research.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 40 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2015

David Eriksson

The purpose of this study is to convey lessons learned from a long-term research project and present a coherent approach for researching relevant areas, ranging from…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to convey lessons learned from a long-term research project and present a coherent approach for researching relevant areas, ranging from ontology to quality.

Design/methodology/approach

A PhD process is used as a case to present conceptual ideas on performing research in logistics/supply chain management (SCM).

Findings

The research integrates different views on knowledge and the world and how to perform research in logistics/SCM. Models explaining micro and macro abduction, and the relationship between research, the context and researcher subjectivity are suggested.

Research limitations/implications

Knowledge on why and how critical realism can be used in logistics/SCM research is advanced. Abduction is presented as a micro/macro process, which should not have any specific “finish line”, and is supported with both ontological and epistemological arguments.

Practical implications

Research in logistics/SCM can be improved by connecting different aspects of viewing and creating knowledge. Reflecting on how exactly a publication is related to a project, researchers can better describe how they contribute to knowledge creation, and also understand the relationship between micro and macro abduction.

Originality/value

Through presenting an approach to knowledge creation in the context of a PhD thesis, this research distinguishes itself in a field with a growing need to define its own views of the world and of knowledge. The paper advances current understanding of knowledge creation in logistics/SCM, expanding on earlier models and presenting a broader view of the research process and the associated dilemmas. The paper also contains novel considerations of the differences between publication types and how these affect the presentation of the research.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

Keywords

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