ABSTRACT Drawing on Pepper's World Hypotheses we describe four different approaches to obtaining formal knowledge in management studies. These approaches are: formism, mechanism, contextualism, and organicism. All of them are valid ways of refining common sense that resist synthesis. Applying Pepper's framework in as extremely diverse a field as management studies (focusing on organizational behaviour (OB) and strategic management (SM) in particular) we show the different assumptions and knowledge claims made by different types of theorists in management and, moreover, we shed light on the sources of conceptual rivalry that often characterize the field. By way of illustration, the Mintzberg‐Ansoff debate on the nature of strategic management is focused upon for closer examination. It is shown that analysing this debate in terms of Pepper's framework one can understand and evaluate the epistemological differences between Mintzberg and Ansoff, which stem from their adherence to contextualist and mechanistic‐cum‐formistic types of knowledge respectively.
Journal of Management Studies – Wiley
Published: Nov 1, 1994
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