Research Skills for Management Studies

Research Skills for Management Studies

Research Skills for Management Studies

Research Skills for Management Studies

Synopsis

Filling a gap in current research methods literature, this new title from Alan Thomas offers a comprehensive overview of the skills needed to carry out a research project or thesis.

Excerpt

Over the past few decades there has been an enormous growth of interest in the systematic study of management among scholars if not among professional managers. As a result, a much-neglected area of research has been transformed into one to which increasing numbers of postgraduate students are attracted. At the same time, the range of research approaches and techniques available to management students has widened considerably. While providing more choice about what kind of studies to undertake and how to carry them out, this has also made the tasks of teaching and learning in management research more demanding. Instead of being introduced to a well-defined research tradition, students of management today are likely to encounter a rather bewildering set of methodological orientations, perspectives and techniques, and widely differing opinions as to which are more or less appropriate for the study of management, however defined.

This diversity is a reflection of three broad trends. First, the epistemological and methodological pluralism which emerged in the social sciences in the 1970s has continued to develop. Methodological exclusivity, centred upon positivistic conceptions of scientific method, has been challenged by a range of alternatives including phenomenology, realism and post-structuralism among others. Similarly, the dominance of quantitative methods, the experiment and the survey has been reduced with the rapid development of qualitative research strategies and methods. Although management research has sometimes been slow to incorporate these wider developments, they have nonetheless begun to have a significant impact within management studies.

Second, although there have been some attempts to identify management as a distinct area of inquiry, the field remains diverse. The term 'management research' implies some commonality of content and/or method, but this is misleading. Those who teach and research in management departments and business schools are a heterogeneous population who as yet possess little in the way of a common research outlook and tradition. Scholars committed to quantitative, positivistic conceptions of research can be found alongside those who favour qualitative, constructionist approaches, typically within the same department or school and often within the same management discipline. In part, of course, this reflects the diversity of subjects that now figure in business school curricula.

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