Towards a Reconciliation of the Theory Pluralism in Strategic Management - Incommensurability and the Constructivist Approach of the Erlangen School
Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 12 A, pp. 195-247, 1995
72 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2008 Last revised: 30 Oct 2010
Theory pluralism has become apparent in the field of strategic management. The traditional business policy framework is increasingly being subjected to criticism, and a variety of streams of research with different theoretical perspectives have emerged. Theory pluralism is common and accepted in many fields of scientific research (Daft & Buenger, 1990; Gioia & Pitre, 1990; Thomas & Pruett, 1993). In particular, organization theorists have developed models to describe and classify competing theories (Burrell & Morgan 1979, Van de Ven & Astley 1981, Pfeffer 1982). However, we contend that theory pluralism or "incommensurability" (Kuhn 1962, 1970) is problematic for strategic management research and practice, since most strategy scholars are interested in developing and testing theories that will assist firms in developing sustainable competitive advantage. Theory-pluralism makes it particularly difficult for managers to use the output of academic research since there may be different answers for the solution of a given practical problem. In this paper, we present a potential way to reconcile problems of theory-pluralism by using ideas from the "constructivist" philosophy of the Erlangen School. This philosophy offers a methodological approach that will clearly be distinguished from the logical positivist approach that has become common in organizations studies and strategic management.
Keywords: strategic management, theory pluralism, constructivist approach
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