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Philosophy of Management

Volume 13, Issue 1, 2014

Care, Mufti, and the Instrumental Turn

Rod Thomas
Pages 43-72
DOI: 10.5840/pom20141314

Against the So-called ‘Standard Account of Method’

Explains why the debate initiated by Stephen Lloyd Smith’s plea to jettison the so-called ‘Standard Account of Method’ (SAM)––the conventional wisdom of how research philosophy and methodology ought to be taught to management students––is of the utmost importance to the teaching of management studies in British universities. Identifies a fully-developed presentation of the SAM framework in a well-considered and widely-used text-book–– ‘Research Methods for Managers’ by John Gill and Phil Johnson––and demonstrates that the book’s argument is both logically and scholarly defective. Identifies the SAM as a form of dogmatic rationalism; one that is oblivious to the possibility of applying deductive inference in the service of a critical rationalism. Outlines the logical role of deductive testing in empirical research and demonstrates that there need be no great divide between nomothetic and ideographic research problems once appropriate distinctions are drawn between different forms of explanation. Nonetheless, questions the relevance of these research problems to the concerns of practising managers by highlighting the contrast, as made by philosophers, between social science and social technology. Concludes that the continued presentation and defence of the SAM, as the conventional wisdom of how research philosophy and methodology ought to be taught to management students, is thoroughly lamentable.

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