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Ontology in organization and management studies: A critical realist perspective

Fleetwood, Steve



Organization studies has recently been captured by a cultural, linguistic, poststructural or postmodern turn, the impetus for which has come from the ontological turn from a (naive) realist ontology to a socially constructed ontology. Much of the current ontological discussion is, however, characterized by ambiguity, which makes it difficult to get to the bottom of ontological claims and, of course, to locate the source of any ontological errors. This paper uses a critical realist perspective to highlight the ambiguity and error encouraged by postmodernism's commitment to a socially constructed ontology. Critical realism's ontology is offered as a more fruitful alternative. Labour process theory, specifically agency and structure, is used to demonstrate (i) that critical realism is not damaged by many common postmodern criticisms of agency and structure, and (ii) that, once interpreted through the prism of critical realism, there is no need to abandon this powerful analytical device. Copyright © 2005 SAGE.


Fleetwood, S. (2005). Ontology in organization and management studies: A critical realist perspective. Organization, 12(2), 197-222.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2005
Journal Organization
Print ISSN 1350-5084
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 2
Pages 197-222
Keywords management studies, organisation studies, critical realist, critical realism, epistemology, methodology, ontology, organization studies, postmodernism, poststructuralism
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