Syed, Jawad, Mingers, J. and Murray, Peter A. (2010) Beyond rigour and relevance: A critical realist approach to business education. Management Learning, 41 (1). pp. 71-85. ISSN 1350-5076

This article takes a critical realist perspective to understand the research—practice gap in the field of business and management. To investigate issues surrounding the rigour versus relevance debate, we examine how the divergent perspectives of scholars and practitioners can be bridged by a critical realist approach in relation to: (1) the research paradigm: instead of confining their research within methodological purism, scholars may need to deploy any research paradigm to investigate a phenomenon in its context, (2) context and causality: critical realism provides an ontological grounding for interpretivist research reaffirming the importance of a focus on context, meaning and interpretation as causal influences, (3) methodological rigidity: multiple research methods will be more important when addressing research—practice gaps since they are more receptive to interdisciplinary functions and contexts in time and space than traditional methodologies, and (4) ethical aspects of business research highlighting the need to engage with the knowledge agenda of not only the university but also society overall. The critical nature of management studies we contend also helps to explain why at least certain research—practice gaps can be treated as natural because of divergent preferences of scholars and practitioners.

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