Business Review


Addressing ontological and epistemological issues remains a central concern in social sciences research. However, the two traditional paradigms that help us understand the nature of reality and knowledge offer very contrasting views of the world. This has resulted in ‘paradigm wars’ between the positivist and phenomenological schools of thought. Consequently Pakistani researchers’ perspectives have also been influenced since they tend to view their research through the ‘quantitative’ or ‘qualitative’ lens only. Using literature review this paper highlights the salient but contrasting characteristics of the two paradigms in order to acknowledge differences between them. Then it points out the often ignored similarities between positivism and phenomenology, in order to highlight the futile nature of conventional paradigm divides. Emanating from these continuing debates, critical realism is presented as an alternative paradigmatic influence for researchers in Pakistan. An interpretation of this philosophical view in terms of differentiating the natural from the social world and some limitations of this perspective are presented. The paper concludes by pointing out that critical realism does not espouse the search for absolute truth about the world, the stance taken by ‘purists’. Rather it focuses on providing an understanding of the underlying causal mechanisms that can help us arrive at a picture of the world that is as close to reality as possible while acknowledging the limitations of our conceptual resources


Critical realism, Paradigm, Ontology, Epistemology



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Published Online

March 02, 2021



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