The same old methodologies? Perspectives on OM research in the post-lean age

Bart L. MacCarthy, Michael Lewis, Chris Voss, Ram Narasimhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose: The world is changing - economically, technologically, politically, and socially. As an academic discipline, operations management (OM) is, almost by definition, close to practice. Are our OM research methods fit for purpose for the new age? This paper reflects on and develops the principal themes discussed in the "OM Methodology" Special Session at the 2011 EurOMA Conference in Cambridge, UK. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach: The emerging landscape in which future OM research will be conducted is discussed. The paper provides a range of perspectives on the research challenges facing the discipline with respect to what the authors research and how the authors research it. The range of methods open to us and their relative merits and challenges are debated.

Findings: The traditional research divide between quantitative modelling, often normative in outlook, and the more reflective modes of qualitative enquiry, with a wide spectrum of empirical work in between, is reflected in the different academic traditions, groupings, conferences, and publications across the discipline. Research should not be driven by methodological convenience but by the needs of a changing world. Rather than a sterile "quants versus qual" debate, the paper argues that a rich diversity of approaches can provide a reinforcing cycle to generate relevant, interesting and exciting research underpinned by robust and valid theory.

Originality/value: The paper presents detailed reflections from leading researchers on contemporary and future OM research, arguing that research approaches must evolve that reflect the new realities to further enhance OM as a theoretically sound and practically relevant discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-956
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Operations & Production Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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