Volume 4, Issue 2, 2004
Professionalism, Passion and Doubt
Management, Science and Reality
A Commentary on 'Practically Useless? Why Management Theory Needs Popper'
Moss is right to state that management theory needs to address its epistemological foundations by considering questions in epistemology and the philosophy of science. Whether management theory needs Popper is a more tricky question. It is not clear that all theories should be falsifiable in Poppers terms. His proposed methodology for social scientific research is inherently conservative and threatens to inhibit intellectual and social progress. But Poppers philosophical realism and rationalism need to be preserved. Coherentism and associated forms of anti-rationalism (including postmodernism and relativism) threaten to provide a rationale for the worst excesses of management theory. Indeed, the poverty of contemporary management theory is a symptom of a broader intellectual malaise: debate is increasingly characterised by the exchange of persuasive rhetoric, making it difficult to hold those in positions ofpower accountable for rationally justifying the positions they espouse.