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Theoretical explanation, understanding and prediction in management studies: Intersubjective meaning as the basis of a theory of action

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Alexander Styhre
Publicerad i International Journal of Organizational Analysis
ISSN 1934-8835
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Företagsekonomiska institutionen
Språk en
Länkar dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-11-2019-193...
Ämnesord Explanation, Prediction, Theory of action, Theory of meaning
Ämneskategorier Ekonomi och näringsliv


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to question whether the management studies is rigorous and/or relevant is a recurrent debate in the discipline. There is reason to believe that this dichotomy is simplistic as relevance is a consequence of rigor (defined in a variety of ways in the literature), whereas the epistemic value of rigor must per se be examined in more detail. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on the study of the analytical philosophy of Donald Davidson, rigor is here conceptualized as the capacity to examine how intersubjective meaning is constituted on the basis of the semantics of the everyday language. Findings: In Davidson’s pragmatist view, individual beliefs are established through communication, and beliefs generate preferences and “pro-attitudes” that result in social action. Using Ian Hacking’s term undoing as a critique of a proposition or idea as being no contender for truth (or some other quality) at all, the paper questions the proposition that scientific rigor can be operationalized as the use of data collection and analysis methods developed in other and more authoritative disciplines, e.g. economics. On the contrary, to make accurate descriptions of beliefs, preferences and actions on the basis of the use of everyday language is the mark of scientific rigor in management studies. Originality/value: The paper addresses the question of how rigorous research in management studies is essentially a matter of explanation, and that explanation, in turn, demands a more elaborate theory of action. The paper also introduces the work of Donald Davidson as an important figure when theorizing action. © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.

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