Organization Theory as an Interpretive Science

Mary Jo Hatch and Dvora Yanow

in The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199275250
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 Organization Theory as an Interpretive Science

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Research Methods


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Interpretive approaches to science are found in many social sciences, including organizational studies. They trace their antecedents, sometimes consciously, sometimes by implication, to a set of philosophical arguments that developed largely in the first part of the twentieth century in Europe (initially in Germany, at mid-century in France, with the occasional involvement of English philosophers). These arguments have even earlier roots — in the eighteenth-century work of Kant, in the ancient Greek philosophers, and in 1,500-year-old Jewish textual practices. To talk about ‘science’ is to ask certain kinds of questions, involving claims-making about the subject(s) of study. As interpretive philosophies developed in dialogue with other nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophical arguments about various questions and claims, this article begins with a brief overview of the context out of which they grew, touches on their central ideas, and then turns to their manifestations in organizational studies.

Keywords: social sciences; organizational studies; Greek philosophers; Jewish textual practices; interpretive philosophies

Article.  10142 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Research Methods

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