Empirical research in OM: three paradigms

H.J. Steenhuis, E.J. de Bruijn

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Over the past 20 years, several articles have appeared in the operations management literature that have suggested that the link between operations management academics and operations management practitioners has been weakened. It has been suggested that to improve this link, more empirical research is required. However, there are different methods for conducting empirical research. In this paper we discuss three different paradigms for empirical research in operations management: the positivist & postpositivist paradigm, mostly aligned with surveys; the interpretivist paradigm, mostly aligned with in-depth case studies; and the design paradigm, mostly aligned with solving practical problems. We discuss the different objectives and the different evaluation criteria for studies in each paradigm. We conclude that although the (post)positivist paradigm is probably the most interesting for the development of science due to the ability to generalize, the design paradigm is likely the most relevant for making the connecting with practitioners
Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationOM in the New World Uncertainties. Proceedings (CD-ROM) of the 17th Annual Conference of POMS, 28 April - 1 May 2006, Boston, USA
PublisherProduction and Operations Management Society (POMS)
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

PublisherPOMS: Production and Operations Management Society


  • IR-73618
  • METIS-235444

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