Research Philosophy

Research philosophy is a broad issue, and we will not go to great length about it here. The assumption, knowledge, and character of the investigation are all linked to research philosophy. It is concerned with a certain method of knowledge development. This issue must be addressed since researchers may hold differing views on the nature of truth and knowledge, and philosophy can help us understand their viewpoints.

In Bachelor's level business and economics dissertations, you are not expected to go into great detail regarding research philosophy, and roughly one page in the methodology chapter devoted to research philosophy usually suffices. In a Master's and Ph.D. levels of a business Research Project, Thesis or Dissertation, on the other hand, you may need to go into greater detail on the study's philosophy. Supervisors typically view roughly two pages of discussion as sufficient even there.

Discussion of Research Philosophy in your dissertation should include the following:

  • You need to specify the research philosophy of your study. Your research philosophy can be Pragmatism, Positivism, Realism, or Interpretivism as discussed below in more detail.
  • The reasons behind the philosophical classifications of the study need to be provided.
  • You need to discuss the implications of your research philosophy on the research strategy in general and the choice of primary data collection methods in particular.

Philosophy of Research in Its Most Basic Form

Research philosophy is concerned with the origins, nature, and progression of knowledge. To put it another way, research philosophy is a set of beliefs about how evidence on a phenomenon should be acquired, analyzed, and used.

Although the concept of knowledge production may appear to be substantial, you are already doing it as part of your dissertation research. To answer the research topic, you will collect secondary and primary data and conduct data analysis, which will result in the creation of new knowledge.

Concerning business and economics philosophy has the following important three functions:

  • Demystifying: Exposing, critiquing, and explaining any unsupportable assumptions, inconsistencies, or ambiguities that may exist.
  • Informing: Assisting researchers in gaining a better understanding of their place in the larger field of knowledge-producing activities, as well as making them aware of potential avenues to pursue.
  • Method-facilitating: Assisting researchers in gaining a better understanding of their place in the larger area of knowledge-creation activities, as well as identifying potential avenues for further research.

In essence, addressing research philosophy in your dissertation entails recognizing and articulating your ideas and assumptions. The identification of research philosophy is located in the outer layer of the 'research onion,' as shown in the diagram below. As a result, it is the first topic to be clarified in your dissertation's research technique chapter.

Research philosophy in the "Research Onion”

Throughout the research process, assumptions regarding the sources and nature of knowledge are made. The author's important assumptions will be reflected in the research philosophy, which will serve as the foundation for the research plan. In general, many branches of research philosophy are related to a wide range of disciplines. There are four main research philosophies in the field of business studies in particular:

Choosing a Research Philosophy

Practical considerations influence the choice of research philosophy. Studies that focus on facts and data, such as an analysis of the influence of foreign direct investment on GDP development, and qualitative studies, such as an analysis of leadership style on employee motivation in businesses, have significant philosophical differences.

The decision between positivist and interpretivist research ideologies, as well as quantitative versus qualitative research methods, has long been a source of contention. However, recent advancements in research methodology have boosted the popularity of pragmatism and realism beliefs as well.

Furthermore, as shown in the table below, each research philosophy is related to prominent data collection methodologies.

   Popular data collection method
 Pragmatism  Mixed or multiple method designs, quantitative and qualitative.
 Positivism  Highly structured, large samples, measurement, quantitative, but can use qualitative.
 Positivism  Methods chosen must fit the subject matter, quantitative or qualitative.
 Interpretivism  Small samples, in-depth investigations, qualitative.


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