A Research Companion
Edited by Olympia Kyriakidou and Mustafa F. Özbilgin
Chapter 13: Relational Methods in Organization Studies: A Review of the Field
13 Relational methods in organization studies: a review of the ﬁeld Mustafa F. Özbilgin Introduction Organizational studies host a diverse range of disciplinary inﬂuences and research in organization studies is underpinned by assumptions regarding the nature of reality (ontology) and of scientiﬁc practice (epistemology and methodology). In all areas of social science, and particularly in management and organization studies, the general tendency is towards leaving those assumptions unattended in research publications. However it is the ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions, whether stated explicitly or remaining implicit, that shape the actual process of research and analysis (Özbilgin & Tatlı, 2005). Social reality, despite its layered, complex and interwoven fabric, and its irreducibly intersubjective meanings, relational properties and interdependent patterns and processes, is often treated in organization and management studies in a way which reduces its complexities to a set of deﬁnitions, patterns and linkages that are often acontextual, ahistorical or of homologous morphologies. This chapter seeks to review relational methods which, I argue, reﬂect social reality in a way that is true to its situated, interdependent, intersubjective and layered nature and form. Historical review of social research methods reveals various turning points in approaches to social research methods and scientiﬁc practice. Denzin and Lincoln (2003) identify seven critical turns in the evolution of social research methods. The traditional period (1900s–1940) is characterized with attempts by social scientists to emulate ‘objectivity’ claims of the natural sciences. The research tradition of the period advocated an objective separation between...
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