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Philosophy in Business and Management research Dr Shona Bettany.

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1 Philosophy in Business and Management research Dr Shona Bettany

2 Key issues What is research philosophy and why is it important? Where philosophy fits into your research What types of research philosophy are available And introducing another important philosophical issue Research ethics

3 What is research philosophy? One of the primary questions that shape a research project What is “research?” Research is concerned with seeking solutions to problems or answers to meaningful questions in a systematic manner that is accessible to others Research philosophy affects how you conceptualise –The object/phenomenon you are studying –The theory you: use to understand, test or develop –The contribution you make

4 Why is it important? Any ideas? No research is research philosophy free!! Provides an underpinning framework of understanding for your research Provides a paradigm to locate your research and contribution Using a different philosophy can provide a research gap!

5 Where does research philosophy fit in? Ontology Epistemology Methodology Method The nature of reality How we understand that reality A theory of engagement with that reality The relevant tools for collecting data about that reality Constructivism, positivism, Interpretivism, post positivism Phenomenology, discourse theory etc. Our underpinning philosophy of the social world Survey method, interview, etc

6 Types of research philosophy Positivism Post positivism Interpretivism Constructivism

7 Positivism The world exists externally to ourselves, it is external and objective and we can find out the singular truth about it ( the object/phenomenon you are studying ) Its properties should be discovered through objective, detached methods (affecting the theory/methodology/methods used/developed) Knowledge (your contribution) –can only be based on hard, observed and tested facts –mainly based on description, explanation and/or prediction of a limited number of fairly straightforward issues –generalisation to a population is sought Linked to the scientific method and hypothetico- deductive research

8 Limitations of Positivism for business and management research Deterministic – assumes that there is an orderly world, regular and predictable and consistent in cause and effect Objectivist – assumes we can detach ourselves meaningfully from the world and study/observe it Singular – assumes there is a singular reality and a singular truth or law to explain it can be discovered So why is this problematic for business and management research?

9 Post -positivism There is an external reality but we can never achieve perfect knowledge of that Mixture of deduction and induction Critical realism and onwards… Multiple approaches/methods – theoretical/methodological triangulation ‘Strong’ objectivity

10 Interpretivism Perspectival - The world exists according to how it is experienced, interpreted and perceived by people –So there is an external world, but it is viewed/perceived/interpreted differently by different groups/individuals (research object/phenomena) The world should be understood through attention to those different interpretations (affecting the theory/methodology/methods used/developed) knowledge is based on understanding and interpretation of experience (knowledge/contribution) Highly context specific reflexive (not objective) co-construction of data Inductive Qualitative methods

11 Constructivism We construct ourselves and our experiences and interpretations. There is no ‘bottom’ reality in constructivism, everything is constructed (our object of knowledge) –Constructions sediment over time into ‘discourses’ but these are historically specific, highly changeable, multiple and contested –Constructions that become sustained facts do so as a result of social, historical and political vicissitudes Linked to Poststructuralist thought, deconstruction, discourse analysis (our mode of engagement) Knowledge –an account of constructions and how they work and their consequences –how constructions are mobilised and operated –a critique of “facts” (can be any phenomenon) as constructions

12 Dual continuum of research philosophies Positivism Constructivism Post Positivism Interpretivism RealismRelativism

13 Ontological differences among the methodologies we have looked at A little task Fit the methodology to the philosophy… PhenomenologyDiscourse theory Experimental research Constructivism InterpretivismPositivism

14 Research ethics The Axiology of research –Value/s, worth, right and wrong Does ‘anything go’ in research? Name one question that it is ethically wrong to ask Research dilemmas –Success/integrity –Politics/value-free research –Commerical/non commerical

15 Research ethics (2) Processual ethics –Respect for human dignity and confidentiality –Careful consideration of harm and benefit balance –Informed consent –Deception –Conflict of interest –Repercussions –Stress, anxiety and vulnerability –Issues of race, gender, sexuality discrimination –Legal issues (e.g. research with children) –Careful and truthful reporting of findings –Plagiarism

16 Recap Where this lecture fits – self evident if you have been listening… Main points –What is research philosophy and why is it important? –Where philosophy fits into your research –What types of research philosophy are available And introducing another important philosophical issue –Research ethics

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