Challenging Proposals from European Scholars
Edited by Stephanie Dameron and Thomas Durand
Chapter 4: To What Extent is Management Research Legitimate?
1 Roland Pérez This chapter presents some thoughts on the legitimacy of management research. That legitimacy has been and continues to be challenged by several types of actor and circles of opinion, especially since the discipline’s entry into the field of institutionally recognised knowledge.2 As it is better to know the charges before pleading a case, we will first run through the different criticisms concerning the legitimacy of management sciences, and then discuss each in turn. We shall end by considering a range of additional issues that are important for the field of management. 4.1 THE THREE USUAL ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE LEGITIMACY OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCE The criticisms directed at management research are as old as the discipline itself. When, in the interests of lucidity, and with a touch of masochism, we take the trouble to examine them, these criticisms are seen to be based on three main arguments, conveyed by separate actors, in specific contexts (societies and periods): ● ● ● Ideological criticisms: management is a compromised science (associated with capitalism). Praxeological criticisms: management is an art, and thus illusory as a science. Epistemological criticisms: management is a pseudo- (‘soft’) science. A Compromised Science? 4.1.1 ‘How can you be a trade unionist and teach management?’ This question was put to a young colleague in the 1970s by the head of his department in 81 DAMERON PRINT.indd 81 21/11/2011 10:24 82 Redesigning management education and research a French university. At the time, management techniques were considered as mere instruments invented by...
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