Incorporating design science research and critical research into an introductory business research methods course
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Research in business can address a variety of goals, including explanation or evaluation of extant business practices, development of new business practices, critiquing business practice, and examining business goals other than profit. Empirical research about extant business practices is conducted in one or both of the positivist and interpretive research paradigms. Development of new business practices, rather than simply examining existing ones, is conducted by research within the Design Science Research (DSR) paradigm. The DSR paradigm emphasises the invention, design, and development of new technologies, techniques, and methods, yet still achieving research rigour. Critically examining organisational practices and goals other than profit, such as business ethics, sustainability, and the triple bottom line, is much better conducted within the Critical Research (CR) paradigm, which critically examines the purpose, goals, and social and societal impacts of business and other practices. Unfortunately, the Introduction to Business Research Methods courses and textbooks that develop the business research community’s fledgling members’ ability to conduct, interpret, and critique and develop high quality research typically place heavy if not exclusive emphasis on positivist and interpretive research paradigms and methods at the expense of other research paradigms and methods. Such exclusive emphasis on positivist and interpretive research at the expense of other paradigms handicaps new researchers and severely limits their future ability to conduct, interpret, critique, and develop high quality research. To address this problem, this paper describes how DSR and CR have been successfully incorporated within an introductory business research methods course, which introduces students, regardless of their specific business discipline, to business research. The paper describes how it (1) deals with textbooks that have a limited perspective on business research paradigms and methods and (2) provides a needed, holistic perspective on business research, regardless of the specific discipline. To accomplish the above, the new course does four specific things. First, it situates business research as an applied discipline, along with other applied disciplines, such as medicine and engineering, and in contrast to non-applied disciplines, such as physics or psychology. Second, it includes a key new framework that contrasts the assumptions and perspectives of different research paradigms, including business research knowledge goals, the role of values in research, and epistemological issues. Third, it modifies and extends frameworks and figures from a popular business research methods textbook to supplement the limited perspective of the textbook with alternative research goals and paradigms. Fourth, the new course adds relevant introductory readings. The paper presents these extensions to the course, including how and where they are included within the course presentation, materials, and assessments, as a model for others wishing to enhance their introductory business research methods courses
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