Going Beyond Positivism in MSR Research and Education
The Management Spirituality and Religion (MSR) Interest Group of the Academy of Management is holding a series of webinars inviting scholars to weigh in on the development of a research paradigm to investigate the impact of spirituality and religion on management.
Please join us April 13, 7:00 am EST, 12:00 noon BST; 7:00 pm PHST, 4:30 pm IST to participate in a conversation led by Dr. Benito Teehankee (Manila) and Dr. Abhoy Ojha (Bengaluru) on how they came to use critical realism and integral theory as philosophies of research on spiritual and religious phenomenon in the field of management.
Why these Sessions
Spirituality and religion are phenomena vital to billions of people’s lives, their societies, cultures, and work. There is a need to develop methodological foundations of the MSR field of research – particularly in terms of ontology, epistemology, and axiology -- to help inquire into this vital aspect of human life and enterprise. The very notion of what is “scientific” inquiry has tended to acquire its assumptions from the natural sciences and has strongly gravitated towards positivistic approaches. The natural sciences are however subject to social structures and processes involving working norms and paradigm shifts as described by Kuhn, and its modes of knowing are not necessarily impartial, neutral, and universal. Kuhn also held that the scientific method at a particular time may be paradigmatic, but it may not adequately address future questions calling for its revision.
We need to be inclusive of the diversity that exists beyond the Euro-centric philosophies of science as the ONLY or currently dominant way of knowing, especially when we delve into the realm of beliefs and inner life, that is not so reliably visible in empirical evidence but more subtle drivers of inner motivations that dictate actions. Positivism tends to emphasize empirical evidence and statistical regularities in research, and fundamentally rejects metaphysics and theism, and is not an ideal mode of inquiry for the role of spirituality and religion in management. Paradigms rigorously supporting research on the impact of spirituality on management is especially relevant and needed to examine inward experience, such as meaning, interconnection with nature, inner peace, compassion, and tranquillity of mind and heart.
Abhoy K. Ojha is a Professor of Organization Behaviour at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. He obtained a Ph.D. in Organizational Analysis from the University of Alberta, Canada. His prior education includes a B. Tech in mechanical engineering and a Diploma in management. His primary interests are in the areas of Organization Theory and Philosophy of Social Sciences, and his more recent focus is on Decoloniality. He has been a consistent critic of the blind faith in the positivist paradigm in the social sciences and has more recently examined the role of Euro/US-centric scholars and gatekeepers in the marginalization of knowledge from outside Europe/US.
Dr. Benito L. Teehankee is Cuisia Professor of Business Ethics and Head of the Business for Human Development Network of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. He led the adoption of critical realist action research as the core approach in the university's MBA program. He has presented on critical realism in the Academy of Management Annual Meeting. He wrote, with Tim Rogers, "Critical realism: A philosophy of science for responsible business and management research" in Responsible Research for Better Business edited by M. Thompson and L. Zsolnai under Palgrave Macmillan in 2020.