Challenging Proposals from European Scholars
Edited by Stephanie Dameron and Thomas Durand
Chapter 1: Social Sciences and Management Sciences: Convergences or Divergences?
Eric Godelier Regularly in France, management sciences are criticised by several categories of people. Within the discipline, academics from different epistemological traditions debate the question of how scientific they are. They also try to define the best way of doing research in order to be fully recognised by universities and business schools or by other scientific fields of ‘pure’ sciences, such as physics and mathematics, or social sciences, such as sociology, history and (sometimes) economics. Outside the frontiers of management, academics aim to convince both the public and corporate managers that their science can legitimately speak about corporations and can improve the quality and efficiency of management tools and models. Behind the public discussion, there are various aspects involved. One cornerstone on which many of the debates focused is the complex relationship between management and social sciences. Seen as critical or unhelpful in practice, classical social sciences – for instance political economy, sociology, anthropology or history – may be rejected either by management academics or by practitioners. For them, the orientation of management sciences towards theoretical research or ‘useless’ knowledge seems suspect. Hence, claiming that, as a new discipline, management sciences have to break with their renowned antecedents, some management academics minimise or reject any methodological or epistemological influence. How and when did this complex relationship with social sciences come about? Is it possible to create what some hold to be a totally new discipline from scratch? This means that, at least theoretically, a new community and its scientific paradigm could be...
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