Understanding research philosophy and approaches to theory development

Saunders, Mark N. K.; Bristow, Alexandra; Thornhill, Adrian and Lewis, Philip (2019). Understanding research philosophy and approaches to theory development. In: Saunders, Mark N. K.; Lewis, Philip and Thornhill, Adrian eds. Research Methods for Business Students, 8th edition. Harlow: Pearson Education, pp. 128–171.

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By the end of this chapter you will be able to:

• define ontology, epistemology and axiology, and explain their relevance to business research;
• reflect on your own epistemological, ontological and axiological stance;
• understand the main research paradigms that are significant for business research;
• explain the relevance for business research of philosophical positions such as positivism, critical realism, interpretivism, postmodernism and pragmatism;
• reflect on and articulate your own philosophical position in relation to your research;
• distinguish between deductive, inductive, abductive and retroductive approaches to theory development.

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