PART ONE: To be completed by the student

Module code: DB8003
Student name:  
Student number:  
Date Due:
Submission Date:
Extension Date:  
Surnames of module tutors:  


PART TWO: To be completed by the marker
Feedback – with reference to assessment criteria and suggestions for improvement


An excellent assignment. Very well and clearly structured with concise and convincing arguments.

You demonstrate very good understanding of the different paradigms and come to your own conclusion with regards to your own position.

Well and extensively referenced throughout. Am I right in assuming that you have not read all sources in the original? Sometimes, you indicate that you reference an author by way of another one. Please do this consistently throughout. This is good practice.


Well done, keep going and all the best for the next assignment and the thesis as a whole.

Grade : S

Performance: A

I have reviewed this paper and agree with the first markers view. A well thought out and constructed assignment.


Office use only


Date sent out:_______________ Sent to:____________________ Expected return date: __________


Markers – please use highlight facility in Word to identify points for feedback


This is a guide, not prescriptive nor a mechanical aid to grading. Some aspects, such as research methodology, may not be relevant to all assignments. The grid is a potentially useful starting point for discussion about assignment requirements. Students should ask tutors if there is anything in the grid – or in the attached comments – which they do not understand or is there is additional guidance. Please note – final overall grading is either Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (UF)

Criteria Grade – S Grade – S Grade – S Grade – S Grade – UF Grade – UF
Performance: A Performance: B Performance: C Performance: D Performance: Redeemable Performance: Fail






Organization of argument

Excellent structure


Original/imaginative; high quality selection of material

Very clear focus throughout, clarifying complex issues

Persuasive articulation of argument, displaying academic rigour and scholarly style

Clear structure


Well-argued selection of key issues

Very clear focus throughout

Argued fluently throughout


Structure adequate but with some limitations

Major issues identified


Clear focus throughout


Argument cogent and clear throughout

Structure adequate but with limitations

Some major issues identified

Clear focus throughout the majority of the piece

Argument mainly cogent and clear

Limited organization of material, but structure implied

Issues relevant but with minor gaps

Clear but rather limited focus

Reasonable line of argument; occasional inconsistencies/omissions

Poor organization of material obscures the sense of the writing

Some key issues missed


Unclear focus, meanders from topic to topic

Tendency to incoherence of argument

Critical appraisal of literature


Use of quotation



Scholarly evaluation of the literature

Persuasive and original use of relevant quotation; effective & appropriate use of paraphrase

Impressive and original use of a wide range of relevant and current sources

Substantial and consistent critical appraisal of literature


Consistently apposite use of relevant quotation and paraphrase

Shows originality in choice and range of sources; relevance to context consistently considered

Evidence of critical appraisal of literature, though not consistent throughout; some recognition of different perspectives

Effective use of relevant quotation; some suitable use of paraphrase

A variety of sources used effectively to support points; context usually, but not always, taken into account

Evidence of critical appraisal of in relation to part of the literature, limited recognition of different perspectives

Some effective use of quotation; modest use of appropriate paraphrase

A variety of sources used to support points; context sometimes taken into account

Limited criticality; breadth of possible perspectives not explicitly recognized


Some relevant use of quotation; inconsistency in quality/use


Uses sources in a limited way to support arguments; relies too heavily on single sources

Literature discussed but with insufficient critical engagement


Inappropriate choice and/or insufficient use of quotation


Very narrow range of sources; barely goes beyond recommended sources; outdated sources

Depth of Understanding




Interpretation and critical analysis




Impressive and original depth of understanding of topic


Highly reflective use of evidence; creation of effective argument in the absence of complete data

Highly critical and reflexive analysis


Convincing synthesis of evidence, analysis and understanding, demonstrating informed judgement on complex issues

Thorough and comprehensive understanding of topic

Considered weighing of evidence


Thorough and sustained critical analysis


Convincing synthesis of evidence, analysis and understanding in argumentation

Thorough but not comprehensive understanding of topic


Arguments sustained by reference to relevant evidence

Issues and theories usually, though not  always, considered critically

Credible argument making good use of evidence, analysis and understanding

Clear understanding of topic


Arguments usually sustained by reference to relevant evidence

Issues and theories usually considered though not  sometimes not critically

Credible argument making use of evidence, with some analysis

Conversant with topic but minor gaps or errors


Some use of evidence; tendency to express unsupported assertions

Limited interpretation; limited critical analysis


Reasonably well argued discussion of topic

Conversant with topic but serious gaps or errors


General lack of evidence in supporting arguments


Insufficient evidence of deep understanding; insufficient critical analysis

Inconsistent argumentation and/or lack of clarity




Presentation of consistently high quality



Referencing is always correct

Well presented; typos/errors in punctuation etc. are rare


Referencing is always correct

Follows required presentational practices; a few typos/errors in punctuation or grammar

Referencing conventions are used, though occasionally incorrectly

Follows required presentational practices; a few typos/errors in punctuation or grammar

Referencing conventions are used, though incompletely

Usually follows required practice but with some issues to be addressed e.g. typos, punctuation


Referencing is variable in quality

Has not followed required conventions; poor proof-reading


Many errors in referencing



(criteria only apply where relevant to assessment task)

Critical appraisal of research design



Methods and procedures



Synthesis of analysis with literature


Assured and critical discussion of methodology and implications



Critical and reflexive appraisal of overall research design; shows secure understanding of ethical academic enquiry


Displays highly critical, reflective understanding and analysis of methods and procedures used


Reflective discussion of convergence/divergence of research findings in context of literature

Clear discussion of methodology, showing understanding of implications


Clear critical appraisal of overall research design



Displays critical understanding and analysis of methods and procedures used


Consistently relates and discusses convergence and divergence of findings from research literature

Discussion of methodology, showing awareness of implications


Critical analysis of overall research design



Displays clear understanding and analysis of methods and procedures used


Usually provides appropriate discussion of convergence and divergence of findings from research literature

Limited discussion of methodology, though showing awareness of implications


Some critical analysis of overall research design



Displays an understanding and some analysis of methods and procedures used

Some appropriate discussion of convergence and divergence of findings from research literature

Some awareness of research methodologies and their implications



Critique of research design attempted, with some inconsistencies



Reasons for choice of methods and procedures stated


Limited discussion of convergence and divergence of findings from research literature

No clear evidence of understanding research methodologies



Poor critique of research design



Methods and procedures explained, but no reason for choice given


Insufficient discussion of convergence and divergence of findings from research literature


Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctorate in Business Administration

Methodological fundamentals:

Strategic fit of product cost management systems from the perspective of realism, constructionism and interventionism – a paradigm simulation




Module code: DB8003 (Summative hand in)
Student name:  
Student number:  
Date Due:
Submission Date:
Extension Date:  
Surnames of module tutors:  


PART ONE: To be completed by the student

Module code: DB8003 (Summative hand in)
Student name:  
Student number:  
Date Due:
Submission Date:
Extension Date:  
Surnames of module tutors:  


PART TWO: To be completed by the marker
Feedback – with reference to assessment criteria and suggestions for improvement

Office use only


Date sent out:_______________ Sent to:____________________ Expected return date: __________



Table of Contents


Abbreviations                                                                                                                                                    2

List of figures                                                                                                                                        2

List of tables                                                                                                                              2

Abstract                                                                                                                                                             3

1 Introduction                                                                                                                           4

  • Allocation of research perspective debate in research process                   4
  • Assignment goal and structure              5


  • Brief overview about research philosophies                                      7
    • Historical background               7
    • Framework to describe research paradigms               8

3 Paradigm simulation on strategic fit of product cost management systems                       12

  • Realist perspective   12
    • Description of realism and selection of traditional realism 12
    • Impact on understanding of research problem, design and researcher’s skills   14
    • Contribution to knowledge   16
  • Constructionist perspective   17
    • Description of constructionism and selection of social constructivism 17
    • Impact on understanding of research problem, design and researcher’s skills   18
    • Contribution to knowledge   20
  • Interventionist perspective   21
    • Description of interventionism and selection of action research 21
    • Impact on understanding of research problem, design and researcher’s skills   22
    • Contribution to knowledge   24
  • Conclusion                                                               25
    • Summary reflections on paradigm simulation   25
    • Impact on choice of approach   26

References                                                                                                                                28

Annex                                                                                                                                        37

Declaration of original content                                                                                                39



PCM: Product cost management

PCMS: Product cost management system/s

PCS: Product cost strategy

SF: Strategic Fit


List of Figures

Figure 1: Research process as Martini Glass                                                                             5

Figure 2: Structure of assignment                                                                                               6

Figure 3: Development of research perspectives                                                                   7

Figure 4: Framework with simplified stereotype research perspectives                                      10

Figure 5: Framework to describe research paradigm impact                                             11

Figure 6: Selected research perspectives for assignment                                                     12

Figure 7: Conception of a traditional realist research approach                                        13

Figure 8: Traditional realist background of research topic                                                  14

Figure 9: Sketch of a PCM-Strategy-Fit Matrix                                                                        16

Figure 10: Conception of a social constructionist research approach                              18

Figure 11: Conception of an action research approach                                                        22

List of Tables

Table 1: Impact of research approaches on research problem


The purpose of this assignment is to present three alternative research perspectives on the strategic fit (SF) of product cost management systems (PCMS). Specifically, it explores the view of a realist, constructionist and interventionist research philosophy.

In order to develop a joint understanding of terms and meanings in the paradigm debate, a brief historical and terminological foundation is conceptualized prior to the paradigm simulation, applying four dimensions of research: ontology, epistemology, axiology and methodology.

For each perspective then, its impact on research problem and research design is outlined as well as the influence on researcher values and required skills to execute each research design. Explicitly, light is shed on the background of the research topic, the general rationale and purpose of the research, the concrete goal of the research project and the research questions / hypotheses as well as on the research process, applied methodology and the stance towards data. The investigation of the contribution to knowledge ends each paradigm simulation.

Reflections of the observed differences conclude the paradigm simulation enclosing the exposure of the impact on the potential choice of approach supporting Feyerabend’s theoretical pluralism for the research area overall and a pragmatists, purpose-related standpoint for the concrete research project.

1  Introduction

1.1 Allocation of research perspective debate in research process

Research implicitly or explicitly follows a certain process in order to reach the research goal. However, within this process the researcher comes along various decision points how to conduct the research (Burke, 2007; Creswell, 2013), which leads to multiple variations of research procedures impacting the research result and quality (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.5). Questions of subjective or objective research philosophies, deductive or inductive approaches, as well as qualitative or quantitative methods are, amongst others, debated (Ahrens, 2008; Baard, 2010; Fleetwood, 2005; Jönsson, 2010; Moses & Knutsen, 2012; Nonaka & Peltokorpi, 2006).

Although reality shows that research is not a linear but an iterative, spiral or even somewhat messy process (Bryman & Bell, 2015, p.15/87; Lee & Lings, 2008, p.8) several authors argue that there are certain indicators for an ideal research practice.

In terms of process sequence Guba and Lincoln (1994, p.105) hold the opinion that issues regarding research methods are less important to issues regarding research philosophies. Holden and Lynch (2004, p.2) propose that research should not be methodologically led but based on a defined philosophical stance considering the purpose of the researcher, which makes the research process a matter of individual, purpose-related, choice.

Scholars such as Aliyu, Bello, Kasim, and Martin (2014, p.86) point out another aspect of the research process, the appropriate matching of different research steps. They claim that epistemological and ontological choices have to match, which supports the statement that it is important to make philosophical backgrounds of research explicit (Wahyuni, 2012, p.69) as it guides the behaviour of the researcher (Jonker & Pennik, 2010; Lee & Lings, 2008, p.4/5).

Synthesising the various inputs from scholars, the process model shown in figure1 can be derived. It combines a process flow as proposed by Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009, p.11) with the logic of a “progressive narrowing of the topic” (Hart, 2014, p.13), visualized by a “Martini Glass” (Braun, n.d., p.1).

Starting point of this assignment is the research topic “Strategic Fit (SF) of Product Cost Management Systems (PCMS)” as formulated in the Literature Review Assignment. Next step is to define the research philosophy with its implications on the research design. This decision should be prepared with this assignment.

  • Assignment goal and structure

In agreement with Connell and Nord (1996, p.408) there is no general right or wrong of research philosophies and choices have to be justified in each single research case (Aliyu et al., 2014, p.87).

Therefore the assignment has the goal to help define and justify the research philosophy for the dissertation on SF of PCMS as part of management science. Sub goals to do so are to understand the different philosophies first (Lee & Lings, 2008, p. 49/50). Second, the developed understanding should help to advocate the selected research perspective and the choices related to its alternatives (Johnson & Clark, 2006). Finally, it should open up the mind and enhance confidence in the selected approach (Holden & Lynch, 2004, p.13) in order to ensure the quality, e.g. relevance and rigour, of the research undertaken (Aldag & Fuller, 1995; Schön, 1995).

The assignment structure follows a four-step logic. First, the foundation for understanding the major philosophical research perspectives is laid in section 2. Afterwards, three research perspectives are critically described with their impact on the understanding of the research problem and research design, the researcher’s values and required skills as well as their contribution to knowledge in section 3. Summary reflections on the paradigm simulation and its impact on the choice of approach end this assignment in section 4.

Should section 3 be differently labelled in this figure?

2  Brief overview about research philosophies

2.1 Historical background

For the purpose of this assignment a short summary about research perspectives and how they emerged (illustrated in figure4) is given prior to the more detailed exploration of three selected research perspectives in order to develop an understanding of the author’s wording.

As Goles and Hirschheim (2000) state, there are “two essential problems in science”            (p.250), the questions of “how do we know what we know” and “how do we acquire knowledge”, which are addressed by different research perspectives.

Whereas in natural science the positivist view is pre-dominant, in social science the situation is not that clear to answer and subject for debate (Fendt, Kaminska-Labbé, & Sachs, 2008). The positivist view claims that there is an objective reality / truth independent from the researcher, which can be measured in order to gain knowledge, whereas non-positivists, especially in social science, argue that knowledge is conditional, relative and therefore subjective (Aliyu et al., 2014, p.81/82). For social science, post-positivists developed alternative views on research philosophies, trying to create more suitable approaches for research (Aliyu et al., 2014, p.83/84).

Seminal works of Kuhn (1962) or Burrell and Morgan (1979) have stimulated a controversy and ongoing debate about competing research paradigms as alternatives to the positivist view, cumulating in what is nowadays called the “paradigm war” (Datta, 1994; Klaes, 2012; Shepherd & Challenger, 2013; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998). Tsoukas exemplifies this debate with the discussion between Ansoff (1991) and Mintzberg (1990, 1991) about strategy knowledge, positioning Ansoff as mechanistic and Mintzberg as a contextualist (Tsoukas, 1994, p.761). This example illustrates the meaning of a paradigm in Kuhn’s sense to share basic assumptions about core beliefs and values in research as well as e.g. “unspoken norms, taken-for-granted assumptions, and implicit codes of conduct” (Anderson, 1998, p.32).

Baum and Dobbin (2000, p.390-391) list major benefits of a common ?? paradigm in science referring to authors such as Pfeffer (1993), which can be summarized as to facilitate scientific progress, e.g. in terms of easier communication, evaluation of results or coordination of research activities.

As one trigger for the intensive debate about and diverse advancing of research paradigms was Burrell and Morgan’s claim about the incommensurability of paradigms (Shepherd & Challenger, 2013, p.225), two ways to overcome have been added to the paradigm debate: multi-paradigm perspectives (Gioia & Pitre, 1990) and paradigm interplay (Schultz & Hatch, 1996). Both views claim that a single research perspective might be too narrow to comprehensively cover the complexity of social reality (Feyerabend, 1985; Willmott, 1993). Tashakkori and  Teddlie finally see pragmatism as an attempt to make use of “whatever philosophical … approach … works best for the particular research” (1998, p.5), with the specific, individual research topic as starting point as the opportunity to end the pointless paradigm war (Goles & Hirschheim, 2000).

2.2 Framework to describe research paradigms

Although paradigms have been and still are heavily debated, to date there is no common agreed definition but a widespread, sometimes confusing, use of the term “paradigm” and their characteristics with different meanings (Guba, 1990a, p.17; Mkansi & Acheampong, 2012), rooting back to Kuhn himself, who used the term with more than 21 different meanings (Masterman, 1970). On the opposite, as Hassard (1988, p.248) states, synonyms for the term “paradigm”, such as “perspective”, “school”, “discipline” or “worldview” have randomly been used and applied, reflecting the “individual nature of paradigm-building” (Lincoln, 1990, p.67; Charmaz, 2008). Taking up this practice, within this assignment paradigm, philosophy, approach and perspective are used as synonyms, whereas other terms are avoided for the purpose of simplification.

Resuming the two essential problems in science concerning knowledge and how to gain knowledge as mentioned above, research paradigms can be described using mainly four different “ologies”, which are, with different emphasis, used by scholars: ontology, epistemology, axiology and methodology (Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.17ff.; Mouton & Marais, 2003; Neuman, 2014, pp.91-124; Sobh & Perry, 2006).

Ontology is consistently defined as to be concerned about the scientist’s assumptions about “the nature of reality” (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.11; Saunders et al., 2009, p.110; Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.17). In doing so, it forms the basis for most debates on research perspectives and is the core of a researcher’s set of beliefs. Saunders et al. (2009, p.110) simplify the ontological debate, being framed between objectivist and subjectivist views. Proponents of the objectivist view claim that the nature of reality is independent of our individual perception, so that an objective reality exists “out there” (as a dictum), whereas advocates of the subjectivist view hold the opinion that reality is (mind-inter-)dependent and created by humans’ perceptions (Holden & Lynch, 2004; Sayer, 2000, p. 2).

Epistemology should derive from an ontological position (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.11) and describes ways how to inquire the nature of the world, being stereotyped with positivism and constructionism (Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.21/22). Remenyi, Williams, Money, and Swartz (1998, p.32) explain positivism as aiming for observable and measurable inquiry of the reality leading to law-like generalisations, comparable with outcomes of the natural sciences. The opposing stereotype, constructionism, emphasises “on the ways that people make sense of the world especially through sharing their experiences” (Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.23) leading to the appreciation of different interpretations and meanings of individuals.

Axiology should also be aligned with the other “ologies” and addresses “in essence … the ‘aims’ of your research”, “the overriding goal” (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.11/59), what is valued by the researcher and whether or not researcher’s values play an important role in the research (Saunders et al., 2009, p.117). In a nutshell, a researcher either aims for explanation and prediction of the reality, which is value-free, or alternatively for understanding and description of the reality, value-bound, taking a corresponding etic or emic position towards research (Wahyuni, 2012, p.70).

Methodology finally completes the description of different perspectives by most commonly distinguishing quantitative and qualitative approaches (Bryman & Bell, 2015; Lee & Lings, 2008, p.12) describing two ends of a continuum with mixed methods approaches in between but without a “discrete” distinction (Creswell, 2013, p.3). An alternative scheme to classify methodological approaches is to separate nomothetic ways of inquiry and ideographic methods (Holden & Lynch, 2004, p.5), the latter one more matching with qualitative, the first one more resembling the quantitative approach.

Figure4 illustrates in a simplified dichotomous way (Zuber-Skerritt, 2001, p.5) two stereotype research perspectives, indicating that each stereotype combines in a meaningful way the peculiarities of ontology, epistemology, axiology and methodology.

Nevertheless, it has to be underlined that this introductory section on research perspectives aims only to prepare the ground for the in-depth paradigm simulation by defining structure, content and wording. More detailed explanations or debates (e.g. Baert, 2015; Guba, 1990b, Morgan & Smircich, 1980) are left out due to space limitations.

To complete the framework for this assignment, next to the research perspectives and how to describe them in a meaningful way, key dimensions of what they impact in terms of understanding of the research problem and design should be explained prior to the investigation in the next section.

At the same time it can be stated that debates about what aspects to include or not when outlining the impact are less intense compared to the paradigm debate and thus less discussed in this assignment. Comparing e.g. text book structures / frameworks from Easterby-Smith et al. (2012), Saunders et al. (2009) and Hallebone and Priest (2009), it can be concluded that they share similar and overlapping aspects.

Hence, in terms of understanding of the research problem, attention in this assignment is directed mainly to the background of the research topic, the general rationale / purpose of the research, the concrete goal of the research project and the research questions / hypotheses to be developed. Besides this, the impact on research design will be detailed with emphasis on research process, applied methodology, approach towards data and researchers values. Finally, a glimpse into the two major required skills for each approach is taken. These key elements of the assignment are illustrated in figure5.

Importantly it is stated, that the description of these aspects in the paradigm simulation in section 3 does not qualify for three distinct and completely cohered research proposals one after the other. Conversely, the examples within one paradigm are loosely, if at all, connected in order to elucidate the differences between the different paradigms selected.

3  Paradigm simulation on strategic fit of product cost management systems

From the variety of different research perspectives, three have been selected (see Annex: Assessment brief) in order to develop a first glimpse into their implications on the research topic SF of PCMS. These three philosophies are the realist, the constructionist and the interventionist perspective.

For all three, as a first step, a general description of the specific perspective is outlined prior to the selection of one particular sub-perspective. Afterwards their impact on the understanding of the research problem and the research design and the researcher’s skill is explained, followed by a description of their potential contribution to knowledge.

3.1 Realist perspective

3.1.1 Description of realism and selection of traditional realism

Realism in social sciences has “as an approach with its own specificity … developed since the mid-1970s” (Burrows, 1989, p.46) with Bhaskar (1975, 1986) as one of the early proponents and influencing authors. Ackroyd and Fleetwood state that “entities exist independently of us and our investigations of them” (2000, p.6), indicating that it is the objectivist ontological position which distinguishes the realist paradigm from other paradigms.


Whereas this ontological position coheres realist scholars, the epistemological stance is “relatively open or permissive” (Sayer, 2000, p.32) although not ignored (Ackroyd & Fleetwood, 2000, p.6). While traditional (classical, naive) realists claim that only observable / measureable phenomena can create knowledge by focussing on causality and law-like generalisations, internal realists hold the opinion, that reality cannot be observed directly and only indirect evidence can be generated (Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.19; Wahyuni, 2012, p.70). Consequently, observations and measurements on the empirical domain can be misleading, so that explanations of mechanisms and contexts are included (Saunders et al., 2009, p.119; Wahyuni, 2012, p.70).


In terms of axiology realist perspectives are either value-free (traditional, classical, naive realism) or value-laden (critical realism) if the research “is biased by world views, cultural experiences and upbringing” (Saunders et al., 2009, p.119). The latter holding an intermediate position between value-free and value-bound as it corresponds to the ontological position that there is an external, objective reality, however interpreted and therefore biased by researchers. Indeed, critical realism “acknowledges differences between the real world and their particular view of it” (Sobh & Perry, 2006, p.1200), while traditional realists, focussing on causality and law-like predictions, consequently have to adopt a value-free, etic position in order to advocate the independence of reality from the researcher (Wahyuni, 2012, p.70).

Methodology in realism paradigms finally either emphasises quantitative, nomothetic approaches (e.g. for traditional realists to proof the developed law-like generalisations) or, as critical realists do, also make use of qualitative techniques, when focussing on the explanations within a context (Wahyuni, 2012, p.70). Methods such as forecasting research, laboratory experiments, large-scale surveys, simulations or stochastic modelling are core elements in realist’s research (Holden & Lynch, 2008, p.8)

In order to create a certain breadth in this assignment about paradigm simulation the realist perspective is selected which is most opposed to the constructionist or the interventionist view: traditional realism. In taking up the above outlined description of realism, the traditional realist can be characterised as shown in figure7.

3.1.2 Impact on understanding of research problem, design and researcher’s skills

Beginning with the impact on the research problem regarding the topic’s background, the traditional realist’s objectivist ontology implies the independent, actual existence of SF and PCMS as objective mental objects. The corresponding (post-)positivistic epistemological position furthermore entails the opportunity that these constructs are both, observable and measureable and, indeed, contribute to causality, impacting the performance of an organisation.

This causality can be expressed in a reductionist way stating: “If A fits to B, then C,” or more elaborated in a post-positivistic sense, which allows, next to strict causality of positivism or Poppers falsicism also correlations/probabilities (Creswell, 2013, p.7; Lee & Lings, p.31/32): “The better A fits to B the more likely is C”, A being the product cost strategy (PCS), B the product cost management configuration and C the company’s performance (figure8, adapted from Abernethy & Guthrie, 1994, p.53).

The rationale behind this understanding of the research topic is that even though it has been claimed by several authors that PCS influences the PCMS, there is a gap in existing knowledge in linking both and, moreover, create a normative conclusion towards the performance of a company. This normative conclusion, deriving from the traditional realist stance would then be the general purpose of the thesis. Taking up above introduced formula, connecting A, B and C together the characterising, normative and simplified law-like-generalisation: “If you want to achieve C (Performance), than A (PCS) and B (PCMS) have to fit” could be derived.


In order to continue the paradigm simulation, concrete goals of a traditional realist perspective accordingly could be, to…

  • …determine different levels of SF between PCS and PCMS
  • …define the correlation between SF of PCS and PCMS and company’s performance
  • …calculate the effect the fit of PCS and PCMS has on the performance of companies.

Subsequently, corresponding research questions and hypotheses could be derived as follows, starting with the research questions:

  • Which PCMS can be identified?
  • What is their SF fit to a defined set of product cost strategies?
  • What is the contribution to business performance of fitting PCMS vs. non fitting systems?

Hypotheses of a traditional realist can be exemplified with the following set:

H1: Product costs vary in their importance as strategic success factor over different cost strategies depending on different external factors

H2: The maturity level of PCM activities in companies varies over time and differs between companies.

H3: Comparing the specific importance of product costs and the corresponding maturity level of companies in PCM, there is no one-to-one correlation, but…

H3a: there are companies, being less mature in PCM than they have to

H3b: there are companies, showing an appropriate match between strategic relevance of costs and their actual PCM maturity level

H3c: there are companies, being more mature in PCM than they have to

H4: The better the maturity level fits to the importance of product costs as success factor, the better the performance of the company.


Continuing with the description of the impact of the chosen research perspective concerning the research design, the research process typically follows a hypothetic-deductive two-step-approach with prior theory first to develop a conceptual framework, possibly including generation of hypotheses, which then in step 2 are aimed to be confirmed (Holden & Lynch, 2008, p.8; Sobh & Perry, 2006, p.1201-1202).

With respect to methodology of the traditional realist (see e.g. Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.25/72), the verification of the hypotheses will be executed mainly making use of quantitative methods, possible defining dependent and independent variables. In the example given through the conceptual framework above, the independent variable could be the SF, whereas the dependent variable could be the business performance. For both, quantifiable measures have to be defined and a meaningful statistical procedure, e.g. regression analysis, to be developed to examine the relationship between the variables. The relationship normally would be tested in a survey with a defined sample according to adequate size (large) and structure (representative).

This set up already indicates the traditional realist’s stance towards data and his/her own values. As the data, is “out there”, independent from the research, the data can be collected with the appropriate measurements / methods, reducing the research topic to measureable variables. Data about the relationship between SF and business performance can be obtained from an external perspective, taking an etic position of the researcher and, as the relationship is independent from the researcher, the research is also value-free. It is the deterministic nature of the relationship between SF and performance of the classical realist approach why the researcher’s values do not matter, because reality is independent from the researcher.

This determinism is also one major influencing factor for the needed researcher’s skills. In order to set up adequate measurements and proper analysis, researchers must have conceptual expertise to operationalize the research questions, means to reduce the complex reality down to a few measurable entities. Furthermore, after having selected a meaningful analysis method the right conclusions from the collected data have to be drawn, which is also a competence, exclusive versus the two other paradigms due to the highly quantitative nature of the realist’s approach (Bryman & Bell, 2015, pp.157-387).


3.1.3 Contribution to knowledge

To discuss the contribution to knowledge of the traditional realist approach as described above, a potential outcome should be summarized first by charting a Strategy-Fit-Matrix which could be derived from the research questions / hypotheses (figure 9, Maxion, 2015).

In this matrix it is assumed for the momentthat the postulated fit between PCS and PCMS could be measured by comparing the importance of product cost as a strategic success factor and the maturity level of PCMS.

The contribution to theory would be twofold. First, to close the research gap of a currently missing PCMS described by different maturity levels, combining two sub aspects: The first sub-aspect as the explicit research on product costs as object of cost management (which has received comparably low attention so far) and the second as a comprehensive view on cost management instead of isolated investigation of single aspects to date. The second main contribution would be to extend the existing concept of SF to the field of product costs, which would, in turn, further advance this concept as part of research on strategic success factors.


The contribution to practice would be to develop a normative guide for managers how to configure PCMS in order to enhance business performance, representing three sub cases: define the proper PCMS, avoid excessive effort, as not necessary, or intensify efforts in order to meet the requirements from product costs being a strategic success factor. In doing so and to bring matters to the head of the traditional realist approach, the impact of the SF on the company’s performance could be indicated. Exemplary an ultimate finding of a dissertation according to the traditional realist approach could be: “Companies which show a SF between PCS and PCMS higher than X% achieve Y% higher EBIT, compared to companies with a SF less than X%”.

3.2 Constructionist perspective

3.2.1 Description of constructionism and selection of social constructionism

Constructionism as a research paradigm in social science emerged in the 1960s as a response to the criticism which was postulated against the positivist approach (Gubrium & Holstein, 2008, p.3; Lincoln, 1990). The fundamental difference lies in the subjectivist ontological position as opposed to the objectivist view of positivism or realism (Saunders et al., 2009, p.116; Neuman, 2014, pp.91-124). Moreover, this fundamental distinctive feature of constructionism is so outstanding, prompting Guba to claim, that constructionists “celebrate subjectivity” (1990a, p.17).

Although for constructionism it is difficult to provide a single definition due to the diverse use of similar / related terms such as constructivism or interpretivism, which are often used as synonym (Moses & Knutsen, 2012, p.9; Bryman & Bell, 2015, p.33; Hallebone & Priest, 2015, p.113; Greene, 1990, p.233), different “sub-perspectives”, such as hermeneutics, phenomology, foucauldian, social, discursive, critical constructionism or existentialism (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.60-64; Holstein & Gubrium, 2008) share same basic beliefs with regard to the four “ologies” (Gubrium & Holstein, 2008, p.5).

With respect to the ontological position of constructionism, the subjective character of this research paradigm is the belief that there is no objective, independent reality “out there” but that reality is constructed, interpreted and reconstructed by individuals (Chua, 1986, p. 615) or even, in an extreme position, only a “projection of human imaginations” (Morgan & Smirich, 1980, p.492). Thus there are multiple realities, dependent on the individuals’ interpretations, which are, on top, constantly changing (Saunders et al., 2009, p.119; Van der Meer-Kooistra & Vosselmann, 2012, p.251).

This subjectivist ontological belief of constructionism is then manifested in the epistemological position as the conditional, idiosyncratic nature of knowledge. Knowledge is context-related and ??? cannot be obtained by observing and measuring but by experience and reflection in relation to different contextual factors (Moses & Knutsen, 2012, p.10). Therefore the exploration of differences and differentiation is emphasised and not the aim to unify knowledge in law-like generalisation (Saunders et al., 2009, p.116).

The constructionist’s axiological view consequently is a value-bound position, taking an emic approach towards the research as the reality is not independent of the observer, but in contrast interpreted in interaction with the subjects being observed (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.60; Holden & Lynch, 2004, p.9). Not cause-and-effect to predict the reality but meaning-and-understanding to describe the reality are the researcher’s overarching goals. The central nature of the goal to understand reality in constructivism is condensed in the German term “verstehen” which is even used in the English paradigm debates to elevate the distinct focus of this approach (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.59). In doing so, the assumption is that the researched problem is best understood, if investigated comprehensively from different point of views and not if reduced to a few variables (Holden & Lynch, 2004, p.9).

To end the description of constructivism as research paradigm, the methodological aspect contains mainly qualitative, ideographic approaches but is not limited to those (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.65). Methods such as ethnography, game role / playing, participant-observer techniques or in-depth-interviews are allocated to constructionist approaches, stressing the emic and dialogic position of the researcher (Hallebone & Priest, 2009, p.35/76; Holden & Lynch, 2004, p.8).

Out of the various different constructionist sub-paradigms social constructivism is selected for the paradigm simulation as it is one of the paradigms which is highlighted as an opposing alternative to the dominant realist / functionalist paradigms in management science and organization studies (Samra-Fredericks, 2008, p.129). In taking up the above outlined description, the social constructivist can be characterised as shown in figure 10.

3.2.2 Impact on understanding of research problem, design and researcher’s skills

Applying the same categories as for the traditional realist perspective to illustrate the social constructionist’s impact on the research topic “Strategic Fit of Product Cost Management Systems” the background of the topic derives from the inherent subjective ontological stance. SF, seen from the perspective of social constructionism, is not a given mental object, independent from actors, neither is strategy or PCMS, but virtually a construct, interpreted by those various and multiple individuals which experience the SF.

Consecutively, due to the individuals’ different contexts and interpretations which are, on top, possibly interacting, SF is not seen as a constant but an evolving and multifarious phenomenon even more possibly occupying different meanings. These different interpretations and meanings of the idiosyncratic nature of SF are in focus of the researcher’s interest in terms of understanding and describing.

This background indicates as well the rationale and the purpose behind the topic. In order to understand the nature of SF, the researcher would deep-dive into the topic to gain an as comprehensive view as possible, investigating external and internal context factors of actors which impact or are impacted. Differences in meanings and interpretations would be explored in order to describe characteristics of SF – and not to predict it – as well as to generate theory, not to verify it.

The conceptual framework would considerably change compared to the traditional realist view. Not the causality would be the centre of the framework but the “verstehen” of the construct of SF.

In order to continue the paradigm simulation, concrete goals of a social constructionist perspective hence could be, to…

  • …explore the characteristics of SF of PCMS from the perspective of product management, controlling and engineering
  • …understand the perception of SF of PCMS by management functions and operations
  • …explain the emotional, cognitive and intentional implications of the SF of PCMS on product managers


Successively, corresponding research questions could be derived as follows:

  • Are there, and if, which, characteristics of SF of PMCS are perceived by different operational functions in companies?
  • How is the SF of PCMS evaluated by management / operational functions?
  • How does the SF of PCMS affect product manager’s behaviour?

Hypotheses would not be generated prior to the research but might be formulated as a result of the research, which is a matter of the research design, more specifically, the research process. For the social constructivist an inductive research process is in general characterised, as “the social constructionist ontology necessitates gaining data on how individuals construct reality” (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.65). Furthermore, a central iterative phase is characterising for social constructionism, including data generation and analysis, validation and synthesis (Hallebone & Priest, 2009, p.56/58). This iterative stage affects the process as a whole by making it impossible to plan the research process to the end; indeed, some parts of the research process would be open-ended (Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.73).

This iterative research process is mirrored in the methods by which the researcher interacts with the actors, typically dialogic methods such as interviews. This underlines the emic position of the researcher, his/her role and own interpretations of what interviewees or focus groups would express. Continuing with the research question examples, one might openly ask product managers about the implications of the SF of PCMS. This might lead to an interpretation of the researcher, to continue with a certain focus in a second row of interviews, e.g. emotional aspects as most answers / comments have been given related to “frustration”, “anger” or “satisfaction” towards working atmosphere.

With respect to data, in doing so, the social constructionist approach towards SF of PCMS would not exclude quantitative methods like in this case simple counting (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.65). Emphasis on the other side would be on the generation of qualitative “rich data”, based on small samples to contribute to the main purpose, the understanding of the construct of SF.

Finally, in the described set up of the social constructionist researcher, her/his values do play an important role. While interpreting the actors interpretation, the researcher brings in own meanings, own understandings which are biased by the researcher’s own contexts, creating an individual understanding from the value-bound position. Intentionally or not, the construct of SF of PCMS might be described from a point of view the researcher is most familiar with (Charmaz, 2008, p. 402).

The researcher’s skills, which are most unique versus those of the other two paradigms, derive from the distinct research focus of the social constructionist, meaning instead of measurement by interacting with others to condense their different interpretations. This suggests that the researcher should have a highly distinctive self-awareness, yet empathetic stance in order to avoid unintentional personal bias while interpreting other people’s interpretation of the world (Saunders et al., 2009, p.116). Secondly, the competence to sensitively recognize and work out what e.g. interviewees really mean, but might not be able to communicate, is critical to the research outcome as well.

3.2.3 Contribution to knowledge

Foundation for the evaluation of the contribution to knowledge is the potential outcome of the social constructionist research. Continuing with the simulation and assuming that answers to the research questions as exemplified above are found, the outcome would be a description of characteristics and perceptions of SF fit of PCMS possibly differentiated between different functions or hierarchical levels in a company. Also a narrative about emotional, cognitive or intentional implications of the (missing) fit on product manager’s behaviour would be a result of the social constructionist’s research.

The contribution to theory could be allocated in those research streams of cost management in which strategy- or personal-related issues are investigated such as motivation, participation, implementation barriers or interdisciplinarity of work organization and management commitment (Shields & Young, 1991; Konle, 2003; McGowan & Klammer, 1997; Krüsi Schädle, 2001; Franz & Kajüter, 2002a/b; Himme, 2008; Kim, Ansari, Bell, & Swenson, 2002; Stoi, Horváth, & Reichmann 1999). The exploration of characteristics and perception of SF in PCM would be novel to that research area and contributing to the understanding how strategic aspects, which are claimed to be an important influencing factor (Kajüter, 2000, p.14), impact individuals minds and possibly behaviour. A theory, e.g. that the SF of PCMS is perceived in a more emotional and a more negative way by product managers compared to the perception of top management might be generated after having understood in more depth the characteristics of SF by different functions.

For management practice the contribution would be to make use of the enhanced understanding of the strategic fit’s implications / characteristics as perceived by different roles, either e.g. different functions, different hierarchical levels or even different stakeholders such as customers or suppliers. If managers are concerned, worried or interested in the SF of their PCMS, they would benefit from an increased understanding of the nature of this fit. However, as social constructionist’s research is partly open-ended, the contribution to practice is so, too.

3.3 Interventionist perspective

3.3.1 Description of interventionism and selection of action research

Interventionism as the third of the selected research paradigms goes back to the influential work of Lewin (1946; 1948, as cited in O’Brien, 1998; Fendt et al., 2008, p.482; Suomala, Lyly-Yrjänäinen, & Lukka 2014, p.305) as one prominent advocate.


Emerging in management science during the last years of the 20th century, the research perspective is not only a response to positivism but also to constructionism by those scholars who “felt that the constructivist stance did not go far enough” (Creswell, 2013, p. 9) to develop a meaningful alternative to positivism and to narrow the relevance gap between practice and academic theory (Lukka, 2006, p.36; Westin & Roberts, 2010, p.8). Research approaches within interpretivism are e.g. (participative) action research, (critical) action learning, co-operative inquiry, experiential learning (Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.49/50; Heron 1996; Howell, 1994).


Although this paradigm is comparably new, still in development and therefore knowledge about the approach still is in its adolescence, a distinguishing feature of interventionist research approaches is the intervention of the researcher itself as an actor in organizational contexts (Argyris, Putnam, & Smith, 1985; Babüroglu & Ravn, 1992; Suomala et al., 2014), which does have implications for the four ologies of research paradigms.


The ontological and epistemological position of interventionist research is close to the interpretive stance “where understanding and knowledge is built on close interaction and communication between practitioner and the researcher” … and … “socially constructed by that interaction” (Westin & Roberts, 2010, p.7-8). Nonetheless, in terms of epistemology the intervention itself sheds light on two distinct beliefs. The first one claiming that in order to understand and get in touch with reality the researcher has to make his/herself part of the reality (Hastrup, 2005, p.141), the second that reality can only be understood, when it is changing by investigating “what” changes and “how and why” changes evolve (Creswell, 2013, p. 9; Van de Ven & Poole, 1995; Westin & Roberts, 2010, p.8).


With reference to axiology, interventionists have to be effective in the emic (being an insider of the subject under investigation) and etic (to link outcome to theory) way (Suomala et al., 2014, p.305). In Interventionism, the researcher does not only influence the research by creating contact points with social actors in order to investigate their interpretations and interpreting the already interpreted reality through own values. Furthermore, the researcher becomes one with reality, participating and actively impacting other actors / reality. Then again, the researcher has to step back in order to reflect and to develop findings and theories, although they derive from value-laden positions.

From the methodological point of view, due to the diversity of different research designs, neither qualitative nor quantitative approaches seem to dominate. The uniqueness of interventionist’s research contexts and the aim to gain deepest insight and knowledge are arguments to imply the combination / mixed use of qualitative and quantitative methods under the umbrella of longitudinal case studies (Suomala et al., 2014, p.305).


In order to indicate the interventionist’s impact on the research topic, an action research approach is sketched next with a simplified description as shown in figure11. However, is has to be stated, that scientific debates about the nature and implications of interventionism is still in its infancy / puberty years (Westin & Roberts, 2010), so there is no claim for a generalised view by this selection of “ological” implications.

3.3.2 Impact on understanding of research problem, design and researcher’s skills

An action researcher’s background of the topic “Strategic Fit of Product Cost management Systems” would consider the fit as being a subjective und unique matter of an organization which needs to be investigated over time. The SF would best be understood, if any aspect, constituting the fit, would change.

The general rationale behind and purpose of the research would be, that if the SF would change for any reason, this would have consequences and implications, which could be investigated by actively participating in the organization. The change could be stimulated actively during the research by initiating the change, e.g. re-define the PCS, or by re-actively investigate the topic after a change has already occurred, e.g. a PCM department was implemented.

Consequently, concrete research goals of an action research could be, to…

  • …transform a company’s PCMS after the change of the company’s product cost strategy
  • …restructure the PCM department in order to better fit to the product cost strategy
  • …align the different PCMS after the merger of two companies to better fit to the joint product cost strategy

Subsequently, corresponding research questions could be derived as follows:

  • How does the strategy change in company X affect their PCMS?
  • What are essential barriers for SF, when restructuring a PCM department?
  • What influence does a merger of two companies have on the SF of their PCMS system?

The interventionist character of action research also has a significant impact on the research design. Zuber-Skerritt (2001) points out the similarities of action research and action learning, shedding light on the research process, which can be divided into a phase model, based on the Lewinian Model of Action Research and Dewey’s Model of Learning (as cited in Kolb, 1984, p.21-23). According to these prominent scholars, four phases might be distinguished, commencing with the active participation and observation of an action, the subsequent reflection and sense-giving of that observation, which is the core of the action research, and ending with a conceptualisation or generalisation as the outcome, being possibly a theory. In order to test the theory, a new cycle of participation/observation would start, leading to a spiral research process to further develop theory.


Derived from the focal point in this process, the reflection, reflective tools are under special attention as methods in action research, e.g. portfolios, conversation / dialogue, journal writing, concept mapping, case records, shadowing and reflective interviewing (Bruce, 1999; Gray, 2006; Kottkamp, 1990).


The impact on data and researcher’s values is similar to the constructionist paradigm, with a nuance, that the researcher’s value are even more obvious in action research, as the researcher steps out from his/her role as an observer and takes over active roles such as catalyst (Dumay, 2010) or liberator (Sunding & Odenrick, 2010) as Westin and Roberts (2010, p.9) point out.

Condensing the various implications of the action research approach, the impact on the researcher’s skills is different compared to the other approaches, too. One of the critical skills characteristic for action research is the “ability to … conceptualize the particular experience” (Eden & Huxham, 1996, p.79).  More specifically, as the reflective phase has an outstanding importance in action research approaches, compared to other paradigms, the researcher should show highly reflective skills in terms of methodology. In addition, the paradigm’s inherent feature to include “numerous sources of tensions” leads to the necessity to balance different interests, agendas or resistance e.g. trough building trust, which is a social competence the research needs to have (Suomala et al., 2014, p.312/313).

3.3.3 Contribution to knowledge

Taking up the similarity of action research / learning, the outcome of action research is learning while producing theoretically grounded solutions, which is condensed in theory building (Suomala et al., 2014, p.305; Westin & Roberts, 2010). These theories develop incremental in small steps as emergent theories being “a synthesis of what emerges from the data and … the use in practice of the body of theory which informed the intervention” (Eden & Huxham, 1996, p.80).

In the case of SF of PCMS, action research would deliver a contribution to theory as a novel theory based on the generalization of experiences reflected in a particular restructuring/ strategy project on PCM in which the researcher actively participated. The action research would produce highest quality research materials including nuanced data (Suomala et al., 2014, p.311). On top, there is the opportunity to narrow the relevance gap as the researcher takes over a practitioner’s agenda, which is a radical challenge of research paradigms compared to the other two perspectives (Fendt et al., 2008, p.472).

The contribution to practice is not far to seek: due to the nature of the intervention, the change which is implemented, there should be an immediate “improved practice” triggered by the research project (Jönsson, 2010, p.124) which is explicitly designed to impact practical issue as it “puts managerial problems under critical scrutiny in order to resolve them” (Lukka, 2006, p.36).

A final differentiator for action research as an interventionist paradigm lies in its relative novelty as approach in management science, as “knowledge of the interventionist alternative … is still in its adolescence” (Suomala et al., 2014, p.305). An action research dissertation in the field of PCM would for that reason, assuming research design and process are published and debated, contribute to the development and advancement of the paradigm itself, a “meta-contribution to theory”.

4 Conclusion

Having critically outlined the impact of the three selected research approaches on research problem, design, researcher’s values and required skills including differences with respect to particular defined points, now concluding reflections should be summarized and the impact on the choice of approach portrayed. Basis for this summary is table 1 in the annex, p. 38, consolidating the major findings of the paradigm simulation for each approach.

  • Summary reflections on paradigm simulation

Main trigger for the paradigm simulation was the ongoing paradigm debate, primarily discussing whether one or another alternative is (more) scientific compared to the other(s). Anderson, Herriot, and Hodgkinson for example distinguish four different types of science based on their theoretical and methodological rigour and their practical relevance (Anderson, Herriot, & Hodgkinson, 2001; Hodgkinson, Herriot, & Anderson, 2001).

The inclusion of the latter, practical relevance, as a criterion of science can be understood as a reaction to overcome the postulated relevance gap of science, especially in management science (Fendt et al., 2008; Tucker & Parker, 2012, 2014). Since then, a contribution to practice, e.g. new insights or normative guidelines or practical application, are demanded by scientific work (Ghoshal, 2005; Gibbons et al., 1994; Hambrick, 1994, 2005; Huff, 2000; Ittner & Larcker, 2002; Shrivastava, 1987).

Likewise, a contribution to theory is claimed since long for contributing to “good” science deriving from the former criterion, rigour. Whereas there is agreement about the requirement itself, less harmony has to be stated about the opinions what constitutes rigour or a theoretical contribution (Whetten, 1989; Wright, 2015). Emphasis is put mainly on the difference between qualitative and quantitative research approaches being evaluated by different criteria of rigour such as reliability, validity, replicability, generalisability for quantitative and credibility, transferability, dependability, confirmability for qualitative research (Wahyuni, 2012, p.76/77; Lincoln & Guba 1985; Parker, 2012).

Reflecting the differences of the three research philosophies which became obvious in the paradigm simulation focussing on the research problem and the research design, they can be mirrored versus rigour and relevance. Although three completely different approaches have been sketched, with, summarized in the Annex, almost no single equality regarding the described categories, they do have in common three general characteristics.

First and foremost, as the basis for subsequent arguments, for each of the paradigms a research problem incl. concrete goals and research questions can be developed. Secondly, consistent and meaningful research designs built on the research questions were outlined, potentially leading to, thirdly, defined outcomes which contribute to theory according to the paradigms philosophical background and practice, no matter whether immediately for one company or lagged later? for a larger amount of companies.

In conclusion, if all three approaches deliver a certain contribution to knowledge and by contrast no single approach can deliver all the contributions alone, this suggests that a single research perspective might be too narrow to “fully reflect the multifaceted nature of social, organizational, and phenomenological reality” (Goles & Hirschheim,  2000, p.256).

Transferring this logic to the reflection on the researcher’s values and skills this would mean, that a distinct, complete value-free or value-laden position, taking an extreme emic or etic approach alone would not qualify for comprehensive research in management science but only for a partial view on certain aspects. This suggests that multi-paradigm-approaches or paradigm interplay, at least an intermediate position, should be aimed for in order to triangulate results and to further advance knowledge in a particular research area (Aram & Salipante, 2003, p.192; Cox & Hassard, 2005; Holden & Lynch, 2004, p.14).

Consequently, this has also impact on the required researcher’s skills. Although it was shown during the paradigm simulation with two examples each, that each research approach demands distinct research skills, the majority of competencies should be inherent to every researcher, independent of the research approach (Easterby-Smith et al., 2012, p.6; Lee & Lings 2008, p.70). Due to the fact that some research methods can contribute to different research paradigms (Holden & Lynch, 2004, p.8) and that a researcher should be able to justify decisions about selected and discarded methods, basic skills should be acquired prior to the research.

  • Impact on choice of approach

The paradigm simulation clearly showed that the topic of SF of PCMS does have the potential to be worked on in a doctoral thesis acc. to the three described research paradigms. This is in line with the ongoing paradigm shift in Management Accounting Research as well as Strategic Management Research (Baum & Dobbin, 2000, p.391; Suomala et al., 2014, p.304; Wahyuni, 2012, p.72.).

Likewise, it supports Feyerabend’s view that there is no perspective superior to another and one single set of beliefs, rules and procedures is not enough to gain comprehensive knowledge (Feyerabend, 1985; Lee & Lings, 2008, p.32). Moreover, there is a growing recognition that paradigmatic and theoretical pluralism is fruitful (Van der Meer-Kooistra & Vosselman, 2012, p.246-247; Chua, 1986; Hassard & Kelemen, 2002; Hopwood, 2002; Luft & Shields, 2002, Lukka & Mouritsen, 2002; Zimmermann, 2001). Nonetheless, there is much to be said for that this pluralism might be more promising for a research discipline overall than on an individual research project level (Chua, 1986; Chua & Mahama, 2012; Parker, 2012), especially for a novice researcher in a dissertation. The first impact on the choice of approach consequently is that there is a choice!

With respect to researcher’s values and skills it has to be stated that although differences have been worked out, it was also argued, that basic awareness for and competence of values and research skills should be inherent to every researcher independently from the research perspective (Blaxter, Hughes, & Tight, 2010, pp.55-59; Crowther & Lancaster, 2008, p.2). Furthermore, one should avoid being trapped by a decision based on the familiarity with methods or the absence of skills as this contradicts the goal of further development of knowledge, in this case, on a personal level (Lee & Lings, 2008, p.64; Moses & Knutsen, 2012, p.1). The second impact on the choice of approach therefore is the awareness of the own position/values, the required skills which might be developed more extensively compare to others and finally the explicitness of the decision for an approach.

Synthesizing what remains after advocating pluralism in general and moderating values and skills as impacting factors on the research topic, is a pragmatist’s view, holding the opinion, that out of the set of various different potential approaches the one should be selected “(that) works best for the particular research program under study” (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998, p.5). This underlines the importance of the researcher’s individual purpose with the need to justify the research approach in each single case in terms of match of purpose and research approach as stated at the beginning of the assignment.  This should be seen as the ultimate impact of the paradigm simulation on the choice of approach, independent from the concrete outcome of the choice itself.

To conclude, the assignment goals a highlighted in section 1.2, understand different and justify / advocate the selected research perspective/s have been achieved by in parallel opening the researcher’s mind and enhancing own confidence. The potential for a high quality research with regard to appropriate quality criteria for that approach has been developed.


Abernethy, M., & Guthrie, C.  (1994). An empirical assessment of the ‘‘fit’’ between strategy and management information system design. Accounting and Finance, 34(2), pp. 49-66.

Ackroyd, S., & Fleetwood, S. (2000). Realism in contemporary organizational and management studies. In S. Ackroyd & S. Fleetwood (Eds.), Realist Perspectives on Management and Organisations (pp. 3-25). London/NewYork: Psychology Press.

Ahrens, T. (2008). Overcoming the subjective–objective divide in interpretive management accounting research. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 33(2), pp. 292-297.

Aldag, R.J., & Fuller, S.R. (1995). Research Advisory Boards to Facilitate Organizational Research. Journal of Management Inquiry, 4(1), pp. 41-51.

Aliyu, A.A., Bello, M.U., Kasim, R., & Martin, D. (2014). Positivist and Non-Positivist Paradigm in Social Science Research: Conflicting Paradigms or Perfect Partners?. Journal of Management and Sustainability, 4(3), pp. 79-95.

Anderson, N. (1998). The people make the paradigm. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 19(4), pp. 323-328.

Anderson, N., Herriot, P., & Hodgkinson, G. P. (2001). The practitioner‐researcher divide in Industrial, Work and Organizational (IWO) psychology: Where are we now, and where do we go from here?. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74(4), pp. 391-411.

Ansoff, H.I. (1991). Critique of Henry Mintzberg’s ‘The design school: reconsidering the basic premises of strategic management’. Strategic Management Journal, 12(6), pp. 449-461.

Argyris, C., Putnam, R., & Smith, D.M. (1985). Action Science. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Baard, V. (2010). A critical review of interventionist research. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 7(1), pp. 13-45.

Babüroglu, O.N., & Ravn, I. (1992). Normative Action Research. Organization Studies, 13(1), pp. 19-34.

Baert, P. (2015). Philosophy of the social sciences: Towards pragmatism (reprint). Cambridge: Polity.

Baum, J.A., & Dobbin, F. (2000). Doing interdisciplinary research in strategic management -without a paradigm war. Advances in Strategic Management, 17, pp. 389-410.

Bhaskar, R. (1975). A Realist Theory of Science. Brighton: Harvester.

Bhaskar, R. (1986). Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation. London: Verso.

Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., & Tight, M. (2010). How to Research (4th ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Braun, C. (n.d.). Better Paper Writing (Part 1): The Martini Glass Paper. Retrieved from: betterpaperwriting1.pdf.

Bruce, C.S. (1999). Embedding Reflective Practice in Professional Practice with Portfolios. In Pathways to Knowledge. Australian Library and Information Association 5th Biennial Conference and Exhibition. Australian Library and Information Association.

Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2015). Business Research Methods (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Burke, M.E. (2007). Making choices: research paradigms and information management: Practical applications of philosophy in IM research. Library Review, 56(6), pp. 476-484.

Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. (1979). Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis. Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life. London: Heinemann.

Burrows, R.J. (1989). Some notes towards a realistic realism: the practical implications of realist philosophies of science for social research methods. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 9(4), pp. 46-63.

Charmaz, K. (2008). Constructionism and the Grounded Theory Method. In J.A. Holstein and J.F. Gubrium (Eds.), Handbook of Constructionist Research (pp. 397-412). New York: Guilford Press.

Chua, W.F. (1986). Radical Developments in Accounting Thought. Accounting Review, 61(4), pp. 601-632.

Chua, W.F., & Mahama, H. (2012). On theory as a ‘deliverable’ and its relevance in ‘policy’ arenas. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 23(1), pp. 78-82.

Connell, A.F., & Nord, W.R. (1996). The Bloodless Coup: The Infiltration of Organization Science by Uncertainty and Values. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 32(4), pp. 407-427.

Cox, J.W., & Hassard, J. (2005). Triangulation in Organizational Research: A Re-Presentation. Organization, 12(1), pp. 109-133.

Creswell, J.W. (2013). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.

Crowther, D., & Lancaster, G. (2008). Research Methods. A concise introduction to research in management and business consultancy (2nd ed.). London/New York: Routledge.

Datta L. (1994). Paradigm wars: A basis for peaceful coexistence and beyond. In C.S. Reichardt and S.F. Rallis (Eds.), The Qualitative-Quantitative Debate: New Perspectives (pp. 53-70). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Dumay, J.C. (2010). A critical reflective discourse of an interventionist research project. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 7(1), pp. 46-70.

Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R., & Jackson, P. (2012). Management Research (4th ed., reprinted). London: Sage.

Eden, C., & Huxham, C. (1996). Action Research for Management Research. British Journal of Management, 7(1), pp. 75-86.

Fendt, J., Kaminska-Labbé, R., & Sachs, W.M. (2008). Producing and socializing relevant management knowledge: Re-turn to pragmatism. European Business Review, 20(6), pp. 471-491.

Feyerabend, P.K. (1985). Realism, rationalism and scientific method: Vol. 1: Philosophical papers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fleetwood, S. (2005). Ontology in Organization and Management Studies: A Critical Realist Perspective. Organization, 12(2), pp. 197-222.

Franz, K.-P., & Kajüter, P. (2002a). Proaktives Kostenmanagement. In K.P. Franz & P. Kajüter (Eds.), Kostenmanagement (2nd ed.) (pp. 3-32). Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.

Franz, K.-P., & Kajüter, P. (2002b). Kostenmanagement in Deutschland. In K.P. Franz & P. Kajüter (Eds.), Kostenmanagement (2nd ed.) (pp. 569-585). Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel.

Goshal, S. (2005). Bad Management Theories Are Destroying Good Management Practices. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(1), pp. 75-91.

Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P., & Trow, M. (1994). The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London: Sage.

Gioia, D.A., & Pitre, E. (1990). Multiparadigm Perspectives on Theory Building. Academy of Management Review, 15(4), pp. 584-602.

Goles, T., & Hirschheim, R. (2000). The paradigm is dead, the paradigm is dead … long live the paradigm: the legacy of Burrell and Morgan. Omega. The International Journal of Management Science, 28(3), pp. 249-268.


Gray, D.E. (2007). Facilitating Management Learning Developing Critical Reflection through Reflective Tools. Management Learning, 38(5), pp. 495-517.


Greene, J.C. (1990). Three Views on the Nature and Role of Knowledge in Social Science.      In E.G. Guba (Ed.). The Paradigm Dialog (pp. 227-245). Newbury Park: Sage.


Guba, E.G. (1990a). The Alternative Paradigm Dialog. In E.G. Guba (Ed.). The Paradigm Dialog (pp. 17-27). Newbury Park: Sage.


Guba, E.G. (Ed.). (1990b). The Paradigm Dialog. Newbury Park: Sage.


Gubrium, J.F., & Holstein, J.A. (2008). The Constructionist Mosaic. In J.A. Holstein and         J.F. Gubrium (Eds.). Handbook of Constructionist Research (pp. 3-10). NewYork/London: Guilford.


Hallebone, E., & Priest, J. (2008). Business and Management Research: Paradigms and Practices. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Hambrick, D.C. (1994). What if the Academy actually mattered?. Academy of Management Review, 19(1), pp. 11-16.


Hambrick, D.C. (2005). Just How Bad Are Our Theories? A Response to Ghoshal. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(1), pp. 104-107.


Hassard, J. (1988). Overcoming Hermeticism in Organization Theory: An Alternative to Paradigm Incommensurability. Human Relations, 41(3), pp. 247-259.


Hassard, J., & Kelemen, M. (2002). Production and Consumption in Organizational Knowledge: The Case of the ‘Paradigms Debate’. Organization, 9(2), pp. 331-355.


Hastrup, K. (2005). Social anthropology. Towards pragmatic enlightenment?. Social Anthropology, 13(2), pp. 133-149.


Hart, C. (2014). Doing a Literature Review. Releasing the Social Science. Research Imagination. London: Sage.


Heron, J. (1996). Cooperative Inquiry. Research into the Human Condition. London: Sage.


Himme, A. (2008). Erfolgsfaktoren des Kostenmanagement: Ergebnisse einer empirischen Studie.            Working paper of the Chair of Innovation, New Media and Marketing, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Institute of Business Administration.

Retrieved from


Hodgkinson, G.P., Herriot, P., & Anderson, N. (2001). Re‐aligning the Stakeholders in Management Research: Lessons from Industrial, Work and Organizational Psychology. British Journal of Management, 12(Special Issue), pp. S41-S48.


Holden, M.T., & Lynch, P. (2004). Choosing the Appropriate Methodology: Understanding Research Philosophy. The Marketing Review, 4(4), pp. 397-409.


Holstein, J.A., & Gubrium, J.F. (Eds.) (2008). Handbook of Constructionist Research. NewYork/London: Guilford.


Hopwood, A. (2002). ‘If only there were simple solutions, but there aren’t’: some reflections on Zimmerman’s critique of empirical management accounting research. European Accounting Review, 11(4), pp. 777-785.


Howell, F. (1994). Action learning and action research in management education and development. The Learning Organization, 1(2), pp. 15-22.


Huff, A.S. (2000). 1999 Presidential address: changes in organizational knowledge production. Academy of Management Review, 25(2), pp. 288-293.


Ittner, C.D., & Larcker, D.F. (2002). Empirical management accounting research: are we just describing management consulting practice? The European Accounting Review, 11(4), pp. 787-794.


Jönsson, S. (2010). Interventionism – an approach for the future?. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 7(1), pp. 124-134.


Johnson, P., & Clark, M. (2006). Mapping the terrain: an overview of business and management research methodologies. In P. Johnson & M. Clark (Eds.), Business and Management Research Methodologies). London: Sage.


Jonker, J., & Pennink, B. (2010). The Essence of Research Methodology: A Concise Guide for Master and PhD Students in Management Science. Heidelberg: Springer Science & Business Media.


Kajüter, P. (2000). Proaktives Kostenmanagement – Konzeption und Realprofile. Wiesbaden: DUV.


Kim, I., Ansari, S., Bell, J., & Swenson, D. (2002). Target costing practices in the United States. Controlling, 14(11), pp. 607-617.


Klaes, M. (2012). Paradigm “wars” as methodenstreit. Methodology of management studies meets economic methodology. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 20(1), pp. 13-24.


Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning. Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.


Konle, M. (2003). Entwurf einer Konzeption für das potenzialorientierte Kostenmanagement in Dienstleistungsunternehmen (1st ed.). Berlin: Tenaa.


Kottkamp, R. (1990). Means for facilitating reflection. Education and Urban Society, 22(2), pp. 182-203.


Krüsi Schädle, M. (2001). Unterschiede zwischen erfolgreichen und nicht-erfolgreichen Business-Process-Reengineering-Projekten, Dissertation. Zürich.


Kuhn, T.S. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


Lee, N., & Lings, I. (2008). Doing Business Research: a guide to theory and practice). London: Sage.


Lewin, K. (1946). Action Research and Minority Problems. Journal of Social Issues, 2(4), pp. 34-46.


Lincoln, Y.S. (1990). The Making of a Constructivist. A Remembrance of Transformations Past. In E.G. Guba (Ed.). The Paradigm Dialog (pp. 67-87). Newbury Park: Sage.


Lincoln, Y.S., & Guba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park: Sage.


Luft, J., & Shields, M. (2002). Zimmerman’s contentious conjectures: describing the present and prescribing the future of empirical management accounting research. European Accounting Review, 11(4), pp. 795-803.


Lukka, K. (2006). Interventionist research. Financial Management, November, p. 36.


Lukka, K., & Mouritsen, J. (2002). Homogeneity or heterogeneity of research in management accounting? The European Accounting Review, 11(4), pp. 805-811.


Masterman, M. (1970). The nature of a paradigm. In I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (Eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (pp. 59–89). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Maxion, C. (2015). Literature Review on “Product Cost Management Strategy Fit Matrix”. Paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate in Business Administration, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK.


McGowan, A.S., & Klammer, T.P. (1997). Satisfaction with Activity-Based Cost Management Implementation. Journal of Management Accounting Research, 9, pp. 217-237.


Mintzberg, H. (1990). The design school: reconsidering the basic premises of strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 11(3), pp. 171-195.


Mintzberg, H. (1991). Learning 1, Planning 0. Reply to Igor Ansoff. Strategic Management Journal, 12(6), pp. 463-466.


Mkansi, M., & Acheampong, E.A. (2012). Research Philosophy Debates and Classifications: Students’ Dilemma. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 10(2), pp. 132-140.


Morgan, G., & Smircich, L. (1980). The Case for Qualitative Research. Academy of Management Review, 5(4), pp. 491-500.


Moses, J.W., & Knutsen, T.L. (2012). Ways of knowing: competing methodologies in social and political research (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Mouton, J., & Marais, H.C. (2003). Basic Concepts in the methodology of the social sciences (Revised ed.). Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council.


Neuman, W.L. (2014). The Meanings of Methodology. In W.L. Neuman (Ed.), Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (pp. 91-124) (7th ed.). Harlow: Pearson.


Nonaka, I., & Peltokorpi, V. (2006). Objectivity and subjectivity in knowledge management: a review of 20 top articles. Knowledge and Process Management, 13(2), pp. 73-82.


O’Brien, R. (1998). An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research. Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto. Retrieved 16:57, December 13, 2015



Parker, L.D. (2012). Qualitative management accounting research: Assessing deliverables and relevance. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 23(1), pp. 54-70.


Pfeffer, J. (1993). Barriers to the advancement of organisational science: paradigm development as a dependent variable. Academy of Management Review, 18, pp. 599-620.


Remenyi, D., Williams, B., Money, A., & Swartz, E. (1998). Doing Research in Business and Management: An Introduction to Process and Method. London: Sage.


Samra-Fredericks, D. (2008). Social Constructionism in Management and Organization Studies. In J.A. Holstein and J.F Gubrium (Eds.). Handbook of Constructionist Research (pp. 129-151). NewYork/London: Guilford.


Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research Methods for Business Students       (5th ed.). Harlow: Pearson.


Sayer, A. (2000). Realism and Social Science. London: Sage.


Schön, D.A. (1995). Knowing-in-action: The new scholarship requires a new epistemology. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 27(6), pp. 27-34.


Schultz, M., & Hatch, M.J. (1996). Living With Multiple Paradigms: The Case of Paradigm Interplay in Organizational Culture Studies. Academy of Management Review, 21(2), pp. 529-557.


Shepherd, C., & Challenger, R. (2013). Revisiting Paradigm(s) in Management Research: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Paradigm Wars. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15(2), pp. 225-244.


Shields, M.D., & Young, S.M.  (1991). A Behavioral Model for Implementing Cost Management Systems. In: R. Cooper & R.S. Kaplan, R.S. (Eds.): The Design of Cost Management Systems (pp. 450-463). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.


Shrivastava, P. (1987). Rigor and practical usefulness of research in strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 8(1), pp. 77-92.


Sobh, R., & Perry, C. (2006). Research design and data analysis in realism research. European Journal of Marketing, 40(11/12), pp. 1194-1209.


Stoi, R., Horváth, P., & Reichmann, T. (1999). Prozessorientiertes Kostenmanagement in der deutschen Unternehmenspraxis: eine empirische Untersuchung. München: Vahlen.


Sunding, L., & Odenrick, P. (2010). A method for action research interventions to improve joint problem solving in operational teams in the Swedish construction industry. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 7(1), pp. 97-123.


Suomala, P., Lyly-Yrjänäinen, J., & Lukka, K. (2014). Battlefield around interventions: A reflective analysis of conducting interventionist research in management accounting. Management Accounting Research, 25(4), pp. 304-314.


Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (1998). Mixed methodology: Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches (Vol. 46). Thousand Oaks: Sage.


Tsoukas, H. (1994). Refining Common Sense: Types of Knowledge in Management Studies. Journal of Management Studies, 31(6), pp. 761-780.


Tucker, B.P., & Parker, L. (2012). In our ivory towers? The research-practice gap in management accounting: an academic perspective. An Academic Perspective (August 15, 2012).


Tucker, B., & Parker, L. (2014). In our ivory towers? The research-practice gap in management accounting. Accounting and Business Research, 44(2), pp. 104-143.


Van der Meer-Kooistra, J., & Vosselman, E. (2012). Research paradigms, theoretical pluralism and the practical relevance of management accounting knowledge. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 9(3), pp. 245-264.


Wahyuni, D. (2012). The Research Design Maze: Understanding Paradigms, Cases, Methods and Methodologies. Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research, 10(1), pp. 69-80.


Westin, O., & Roberts, H. (2010). Interventionist research – the puberty years: an introduction to the special issue. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 7(1), pp. 5-12.


Whetten, D.A. (1989). What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution?. Academy of Management Review, 14(4), pp. 490-495.


Willmott, H. (1993). Breaking the Paradigm Mentality. Organization Studies, 14(5), pp. 681-719.


Wright, P. M. (2015). Rethinking “Contribution”. Journal of Management, 41(3), pp. 765-768.


Zimmerman, J.L. (2001). Conjectures regarding empirical managerial accounting research. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 32(1), pp. 411-427.


Zuber-Skerritt, O. (2001). Action Learning and Action Research: Paradigm, Praxis and Programs.  In S. Sankara, B. Dick, & R. Passfield (Eds.), Effective Change Management through Action Research and Action Learning: Concepts, Perspectives, Processes and Applications (pp. 1-20). Lismore: Southern Cross University Press.

Annex: Assessment brief

Annex: Table 1: Impact of research approaches on research problem

Declaration of original content

I declare that the work in this assessment was carried out in accordance with the regulations of the University of Gloucestershire and is original except where indicated by specific reference in the text. No part of the assessment has been submitted as part of any other academic award.

Any views expressed in this assessment are those of the author and in no way represent those of the University.

Signed: <<Claude Maxion, Pforzheim>>

Date: 14/12/2015