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After paradim: Why mixing-methodology theorising fails and how to make it work again

Zhu, Z.


Z. Zhu


Combining multiple methodologies works in practice, but not yet in theory. One of the reasons is that current theorising is dominated by a paradigm mentality, preoccupied with wholesale philosophical legitimation. 'Paradigm' and the associated 'incommensurability' were once revolutionary heuristic tools; now they are mistaken for the basis of an essentialist foundation. The result is a stifling of intellectual innovation and a diminishing of practical relevance. For OR research to make a positive difference again, it is time to move beyond paradigm-based theorising. After paradigm, there are many opportunities. This paper explores a pragmatist alternative that is action-oriented, multiplicity-embracing, ethically concerned and politically sensitive. Incorporating ontological flexibility, it allows OR workers to enact multiple realities, craft ontology-in-use, weave available methods with situated particulars, justify methodologies based on practical consequences, so as to get jobs done and enhance competences. Promoting ontological flexibility and methodology-in-use is a useful starting point for after-paradigm theorising that supports innovative mixing-methodology practice. © 2011 Operational Research Society Ltd. All rights reserved.


Zhu, Z. (2011). After paradim: Why mixing-methodology theorising fails and how to make it work again. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 62(4), 784-798.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2010
Online Publication Date Dec 21, 2017
Publication Date Apr 1, 2011
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Journal Of The Operational Research Society
Print ISSN 0160-5682
Electronic ISSN 1476-9360
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Issue 4
Pages 784-798
Keywords Methodology; Paradigm; Ontological flexibility; Pragmatism
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Nov 13, 2014