Inderscience Publishers

Subjectivist and objectivist views in research

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Human Resource Management (HRM) research, especially that focused on the organisational context, is increasingly recognising the 'subjective' as a realm of interest distinct from the 'objective' realm that previously was its predominant concern. This paper argues that, although this is a step forward, it is a mistake to pose a dichotomy between the two or to suggest that there are two different kinds of researchers (objectivist and subjectivist) who focus either on one realm or another. The hermeneutic turn taking place in the broader social sciences is properly understood as a rejection of the subjective-objective dichotomy. The hermeneutic turn appreciates that our knowledge of HRM and organisations is not guaranteed by a method that separates the objective from the subjective in order to penetrate to the 'laws' of the social universe. Instead, our knowledge of HRM and organisations is constructed through a social practice in which such distinctions are not meaningful. However, due to the neglect of economics in subjectivism, the divide between objectivism and subjectivism still exists. It thus follows that adopting both the subjectivist and objectivist views towards research is more beneficial and realistic.

Keywords: objectivism, subjectivism, research methodologies, subjectivist views, objectivist views, human resource management, HRM, organisations, researchers, hermeneutics, subjective-objective dichotomies, social universes, social practices, economics, scientific enquiry

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