Epistemology and Its Influences

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In order to elucidate the way in which the choice of epistemology influences the formulation of a management research problem, it is necessary to define the term epistemology and clarify some of the varying epistemological stances. In doing so, the reader will be able to understand the myriad different variations of epistemological viewpoints, each of which shape the direction of research and the sort of problem that research attempts to identify. Management research builds on the long tradition of research in the social sciences (Somekh and Lewin, 2005). Primarily, epistemology provides the very lens through which research is conducted. Certain epistemological lenses, therefore, are best suited for certain types of research and research problems, whereas other research problems can be determined most efficaciously through other epistemological lenses. To simplify this assertion, it is best to define epistemology as a series of (occasionally conflicting) views about "the most appropriate" (Easterby-Smith et al, 2012) method of inquiring about the source of knowledge in the world. The pivotal element of this definition is the fact that there are a multitude of epistemological perspectives, and some are more appropriate for certain management research problems than for others. Thus, epistemology is one of the primary ways in which researchers can specifically tailor the pursuit of their research question, which is a crucial part of the research process (Podsakoff and Dalton,
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