This paper shows how organization studies controls the subject through its use of representational devices. Different theoretical and methodological approaches may appear to offer epistemological guarantees concerning the validity of data about the research subject but they remain representations, beyond which we can know nothing except through representation. Research is not about wrenching truth from a recalcitrant ‘reality’: the devices it uses to represent its research subject create and control in the way they silence to give voice to aspects of that subject. All data are ‘collaborative products’ created in accordance with ‘the practical procedures and background assumptions of the participating actors’ (Knorr‐Cetina, 1981). Thus the relations between research subject, researcher and the protocols that comprise the research process both embody and obscure power. For this reason, it is important that theory strives for a high degree of reflexivity (Marcus, 1994) in accounting for its own theorizing, as well as whatever it is that it theorizes about. In this paper, we critically examine different research approaches, including those of Aston, to show the dangers that can arise when research is carried out without regard to reflexivity. We offer some criteria for carrying out reflexive research which, we believe, is one of the major challenges facing post‐paradigm organization studies. As we shall see, reflexivity shows us how far we have come in the thirty years since Aston.
British Journal of Management – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1997
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