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Epistemological Foundations

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All research work is based on a certain vision of the world, employs a methodology, and proposes results aimed at predicting, prescribing, understanding or explaining. By recognizing these epistemological presuppositions, researchers can control their research approach, increase the validity of their results and ensure that the knowledge they produce is cumulative.

This chapter aims to help the researcher conduct this epistemological reflection, by providing the tools needed to answer the following three questions: How is knowledge generated? What is the nature of the produced knowledge? What is the value and status of this knowledge? In answering these questions, inspiration may be drawn from the three major epistemological paradigms usually identified with organizational science: the positivist, the interpretativist, and the constructivist paradigms. From this researchers can evaluate the scientific validity of their statements and reflect on the epistemological validity and legitimacy of their work. Consideration of such questions can help researchers to elaborate their own positions in relation to the epistemological pluralism present in organizational science.

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