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Relational Perspectives in Organizational Studies

A Research Companion

Edited by Olympia Kyriakidou and Mustafa F. Özbilgin

The contributors to this highly innovative and authoritative research companion, leading experts in their field, apply relational analyses to different areas of organization studies and provide a comprehensive review of the relational perspectives. The book features empirical, theoretical, philosophical and methodological contributions from a wide spectrum of disciplinary perspectives on relationality in and around organizations.
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Chapter 13: Relational Methods in Organization Studies: A Review of the Field

Mustafa F. Özbilgin


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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