Rethinking Rigour for Management Research: Challenging Technocratic Conceptions of Rigour in Management Scholarship



Rigour in empirical research can be defined as the strict application of rules and procedures to ensure that the knowledge produced has a sound empirical basis. In practice, however, a narrow definition of rigour which emphasises technical precision in methods has become dominant. Quantitative researchers have, for obvious reasons, rarely challenged this definition. Qualitative researchers have responded either by rejecting rigour as a meaningful concept for their work, or alternatively by seeking to make their work more consistent with positivist conceptions of rigour. The result has been that quantitative researchers have been less reflexively engaged with rigour than they might and qualitative researchers have undermined either the legitimacy of their work or their ability to develop particular kinds of theory. By focusing on the logic of reasoning, in which scholars seek to bridge the empirical with the theoretical and thus to advance knowledge, it is possible to challenge the dominant conceptualisation of rigour and to propose different criteria which may overcome the limitations of existing approaches.