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Action and Case Research in Management and Organizational Contexts.

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Presentation on theme: "Action and Case Research in Management and Organizational Contexts."— Presentation transcript:

1 Action and Case Research in Management and Organizational Contexts.

2 1. Scientific social study Versus Interpretivism. 2. Intervention Versus Non-intervention.

3 August Comte (1798 – 1857) Coined the term sociology or the “science of society”. He wanted to study society as a scientist studies molecules or gases. He wanted to discover laws of societal behaviour. Why did he do this and what else was going on? (Clue 1859 Darwin’s origin of species originated just after his death). Sociology

4 One entry found for subjective. Main Entry: 1 sub·jec·tive Pronunciation: (")s&b-'jek-tiv Function: adjective 1 : of, relating to, or constituting a subject : as a obsolete : of, relating to, or characteristic of one that is a subject especially in lack of freedom of action or in submissiveness b : being or relating to a grammatical subject; especially : NOMINATIVE 2 : of or relating to the essential being of that which has substance, qualities, attributes, or relations 3 a : characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind : PHENOMENAL -- compare OBJECTIVE 1b b : relating to or being experience or knowledge as conditioned by personal mental characteristics or states 4 a (1) : peculiar to a particular individual : PERSONAL (2) : modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background b : arising from conditions within the brain or sense organs and not directly caused by external stimuli c : arising out of or identified by means of one's perception of one's own states and processes -- compare OBJECTIVE 1c 5 : lacking in reality or substance : ILLUSORYsubject NOMINATIVEPHENOMENALOBJECTIVE PERSONALOBJECTIVE ILLUSORY From Merriam Webster online dictionary Subjective

5 Main Entry: 1 ob·jec·tive Pronunciation: &b-'jek-tiv, äb- Function: adjective 1 a : relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence -- used chiefly in medieval philosophy b : of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind -- compare SUBJECTIVE 3a c of a symptom of disease : perceptible to persons other than the affected individual -- compare SUBJECTIVE 4c d : involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena object SUBJECTIVE objects 2 : relating to, characteristic of, or constituting the case of words that follow prepositions or transitive verbs 3 a : expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations b of a test : limited to choices of fixed alternatives and reducing subjective factors to a minimum synonym see MATERIAL, FAIRMATERIALFAIR From Merriam Webster online dictionary Subjective (continued)

6 Nominalism The Subjectivist approach to Social Science The Objectivist approach to Social Science Anti-positivismVoluntarismIdeographicNomotheticDeterminismPositivismRealism Ontology Epistemology Human Nature Methodology Burrell and Morgan (1979)


8 This suggests that paradigms have: 1. An epistemological/ontological dimension; 2.A political dimension – This immediately undermines objectivity - Why

9 Most approaches claim to be “scientific” and have claims to some form of truth; Only the post modernists might believe truth claims are unjustified – Why is this? Scientific truth

10 Inquiry Paradigm Description Positivism Natural science approach, realist ontology, dualist, objectivist epistemology and experimental /manipulative methods. Post positivismCritical realist ontology, Popperian, “falsifiability” based epistemology, still dualist/objectivist, but seeing this as an “ideal” impossible in practice. Critical theory Historical realist ontology, transactional/subjective epistemology, dialogical methodology. Constructivism Relativist ontology, transactional/subjective epistemology dialectical and hermeneutical methodology. Paradigms (based on Guba and Lincoln, 1994).

11 Reproducible, impartial and free from “bias”; Lends itself to quantitative study; Experimental methods possible; Statistical methods possible; Dependent and independent variables can be identified; Law like statements can be made; Predictions can be made; Society can be controlled.

12 Objectivity is almost impossible to achieve As soon as you pick a topic or set a question personal preference has entered. The restricted set of variables studied is also subjective. By concentrating on just a few variables reality is seriously distorted. The explanation of quantitative results is open to various interpretations. Human beings are not like gasses or molecules, they have a will of their own (or do they?). Ignores most of what is interesting in human life. Ignores meaning. Is often associated with political regulation.

13 Recognises the intimate relationship between the researcher and those studied; Deals with meaning; Recognises that objectivity is impossible; Provides rich narratives about human life; Can still be honest and bias can be accounted for; Provides deep understanding of human behaviour; Emphasises the “How” rather than the “What”; Accept multiple explanations and points of view.

14 It can be consciously partial or “take sides”. Can seek liberation from injustice. Seeks to bring about change. It does not want to just study society it wants to change it. It can still be conducted with integrity. It can still apply ethical rules. It can still have validity, evidence and claim to reveal a form of “truth”. In this sense it can still be “scientific”.

15 Action research by definition is about intervention; Activity theory (which is outside the scope of this module) is interventionist; Process consultancy; Some would argue all research is an intervention.

16 What are the dangers of an interventionist approach? What are the benefits? Why would it appeal to a DBA student?


18 References 1.Burrell G., and Morgan G., (1979). Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis, London: Heinemann Educational Books,. 2.Guba, E.G. and Lincoln Y.S. (1994). Competing Paradigms in qualitative Research. In Denzin, N.K., and Lincoln, Y.S. (Eds.) (1994), The Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage Publications Inc. 3.Merriam Webster Online Dictionary on http://www.m- Accessed 07/09/2005.

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