n South African Journal of Business Management - Contemporary insights from social sciences theory : implications for management

Volume 48 Number 4
  • ISSN : 2078-5585


Management theory has a long history of drawing from social science theory to provide useful theoretical frameworks for managers. In resource constricted times, and in global contexts of uncertainty, the need for theory to provide insights for managers has perhaps never been so important. The objective of this research is to provide an analysis of seminal theory of paradigms and their incommensurability, and to offer a model which includes contemporary literature relevant to the challenges faced by management as a field. While certain pillars of social science theory have provided the bedrock upon which management has built certain of its literature, this paper argues not all social science tenets have been immune to the vagaries of contextual change over past decades. This paper seeks to revisit seminal social science literature on paradigms, and to derive a model of paradigm relationships in relation to management’s relationships to other social sciences. Central to this reflexive engagement is the argument that social science validity is contingent on a multiplicity of perspectives, and that paradigm incommensurability is antithetical to notions of contemporary validity. Implications for management are drawn from the analysis.

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