Positivism And Interpretivism

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Positivism and Interpretivism

Positivism and Interpretivism


In management science, three epistemological paradigms dominate the production of knowledge: the positivist paradigm, the paradigm interpretivist and constructivist paradigm. Before the fifties, The positivist paradigm is based on the objective reality of the registered research in the scientific method (Jackson & Carter, 2001). The purpose of the research in this paradigm is based on the examination of the facts leads to discover their underlying structure. In this perspective, the correspondence between the facts and the reality depends on the acceptance or rejection of theories that are produced. A few years later, new designs have emerged, if they are registered in the positivist paradigm, they relate to the hypothetico-deductive model (Wills, 2007). The main effect of this new approach is reflected in the assumptions, which are formulated so as to be falsifiable by prohibiting the development of ad hochypotheses, with the exception that the assumptions increase the degree of this system (Johnson & Duberley, 2000. In reality, this epistemological evolution has allowed the gradual emergence of new paradigms such as interpretivist and constructivist able to accept multiple realities. The epistemological perspectives of these paradigms differ notably according to two criteria: the vision of reality and the relationship that the researcher holds to it.

In fact, the object of research in positivism developed from the identification of gaps or inconsistencies in the theories reflecting the reality or between theories and facts (Donaldson, 2008). Thus, the research object is constructed in a manner intentional and teleological (goal-oriented), based on an interrogation of the facts. Contrary to this paradigm, in interpretivism and constructivism, the object of research finds its final form at the end of the research (Heshusius, 1996).The definition of the object of research in the interpretivist paradigm involves the immersion of the researcher in the studied phenomenon. The object comes from the researcher's interest for a phenomenon where the definition of the object implies a more or less participating observation, so that the precise object simultaneously with its understanding develops through empathy and its constant adaptation to the terrain (Bryman, 2007). In other words, understanding the system that allows you to assign meaning to behavior at the researcher constructed step by step, when the researcher has developed an interpretation of the phenomenon, it may define the terms its purpose (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2008).


Knowledge produced through a positivist paradigm is objective and acontextuelle since it corresponds to the updated laws, an immutable fact, outside the individual and context-independent interactions of actors. Reality is governed by universal laws, the researcher will try to discover the reasons for which the simple facts observed are related to the causes which explain in the literatures (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2008). Conversely, in the interpretivist and constructivist paradigms, the reality is essentially mental and perceived objectively remains unrecognizable because we do not have the ability to reach directly, while constructivism radical, it does not exist, the researcher must invent it (Pfeffer, 1993).

In positivism, the relationship between the subject and object of research is independent, ...
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