The problem of reflexivity in organizational research: towards a postmodern science of organization

Chia, R. (1996) The problem of reflexivity in organizational research: towards a postmodern science of organization. Organization, 3(1), pp. 31-59. (doi:10.1177/135050849631003)

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This paper argues that contemporary organizational research and theorizing are circumscribed by the ontological commitments of being-realism. Being-realism is a fundamental ontological posture which asserts the primacy of `things', `entities', `events', `generative mechanisms', etc., as making up our material and social world. It underwrites the dominant academic predisposition which treats relatively unproblematic notions such as `the organization', its `goals', `environment', `strategies', etc., as theoretically legitimate objects of analysis. It also underwrites the preoccupations of organizational `meta-theorists' who impute an objective existence to their self-generated typologies and paradigmatic schemas and then proceed to compare them as if the ontological status of their objects of analyses were unproblematic. More recent reflexive organization theorists who draw attention to the ideological character of theories of organization do much to undermine the epistemological status of representationalist epistemology. However, they fail to address the ontological character of the problem of reflexivity. It is argued here that one way out of this reflexivity quagmire is to recognize the primacy of a becoming-realism in which the processual becoming of things is given a fundamental role in the explanatory schema. Our attention is thereby redirected to an examination of the workings of primary organizing micro-practices which generate stabilized effects such as `truth', `knowledge', `individuals' and `organizations'. In this expanded realm of organization theory the study of such reality-constituting practices becomes a central focus.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chia, Professor Robert
Authors: Chia, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Organization
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1461-7323

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