Journal of the Operational Research Society

, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 559–570

A classification of the philosophical assumptions of management science methods

General Paper

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jors.2601436

Cite this article as:
Mingers, J. J Oper Res Soc (2003) 54: 559. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jors.2601436


This paper presents a framework within which to examine and compare the main philosophical assumptions underpinning management science methods. It takes the position that they all have in common the basic mechanism of modelling, but that they differ in terms of what they model (ontology), how they model (epistemology), and why they model (axiology). A wide range of both hard and soft methods and methodologies ace categorised within the paper. One of the purposes of the framework is to assist in the process of multimethodology—that is, combining together several methods in an intervention. In particular, it will assist users in understanding both the implicit or explicit assumptions underlying methods, and their principle aims and purposes, in order to be able to make more informed and critically aware choices when designing particular combinations in practice.


critical OR/systems hard OR/systems methodology multimethodology paradigm pluralism soft OR/systems 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK

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