What is your research paradigm?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the basic meaning of the term paradigm as “a pattern or model, an exemplar”. In terms of your own research, paradigm means the way of examining social phenomena.

Burrell and Morgan (1982) suggest a taxanomy of four different paradigms as a result of crossing two variables: objectivism/subjectivism and radical change/regulation. Radical change refers to the fact that the organization studied must be conducted by mean fundamental changes to the normal order on things, while regulation perspective is less judgemental and critical.
In the bottom right corner of the quadrant is the funcionalist paradigm. You will concern with a more ratiaonal or “reources researchers-like” perspective to explain to suggest some recommendations of change in the organization (non fundamental changes). E.g. “the number of customer complaint have increase 20% last year and it is recommendable improve the client services”

In the bottom left corner of the quadrant is the interpretative paradigm. You still would be recommending non-radical changes but through an explanation based on irrationalities or, in other words, trying to understand the meaning that humans involved give to the organization. E.g. “the fact that the workers at customer service do not get on very well is affecting the quality of the service and it requires to be improve by mean organizing more social events”.

In the top left corner the radictal humanist paradigm is located within the subjectivist and radical change dimensions. The needs of radical changes in the organization would be based on “feeling researchers-like” perspective, i.e. interpretativist perspective. E.g. the lack of motivation among customer service workers means that it must disapeared or being integrated in marketing department in order for workers have more challenging jobs.

Finally, in the top right corner of the quandrant is the radical structuralist paradigm. Here you try to achieve fundamental changes based upon statistical analysis of the organitation. E.g. “after doing a survey among workers of customer service department there has been a clear decrease on labour satisfaction among new workers comparing to long term workers and it must be solved by mean a change in the different position of managers and teamleaders, as well as in the management strategy”


Oxford English Dictionary

Lewis, Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009.

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