“Research philosophy is an over -arching term relating to the development of knowledge and the nature of that knowledge” (Saunders et al, 2009). Research philosophy consist of important assumptions about the way of viewing the world also the research strategies and methods being used as a part of approach .Through the choice of research strategy it is important to Philosophically understand what is doing and what is investigating .

As per Burrell and Morgan (1979) with the aware of researcher or not during every stage of the research certain number of assumptions will arise. These assumptions are about human knowledge (Epistemological assumptions), realities that meet through research (Ontological assumptions) and ways of influencing own values during the process (Axiological assumption). These assumptions manage that how the researcher realize the research questions and explicate the findings. Consistent assumptions will contribute to a plausible research philosophy and will corroborate methodological choice, research strategy, and data collecting methods and analyzing techniques.

Behaviour of philosophy

? Research philosophy is based on certain assumptions expansion of knowledge considering practical concerns while choosing a topic for research (Holden & Lynch, 2004; Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009).

? The perspective of the researchers varies within the same supply chain. Once it may focus on product quality process and other hand may focus on psychological strategies to appeal customers by suppliers.

? Once it may concern on feelings and other hand about facts. Therefore according to the perspective the methods and strategies will also fluctuates.

? Which approach and why should select that will be able decide only through philosophical approach. Because of that to select a suitable philosophy it is necessary to understand the types of philosophies (Saunders et al., 2009). The researchers’ perspective of the world will reflect through research philosophy. The assumptions indicates research strategy and methods of research strategy.

Three main options of research philosophies


As per the definition of Blaikie (1993) ontology is ” The science or study on being and claims about what exists, what it is look like ,what makes it up and how these units interact with each other”. Reality of nature is what ontology concern about. The way the world operates and commitment held by certain views will raise questions through these assumptions of the researchers. There are two aspects of ontology. The first aspect is Objectivism, which represent the reality of the position of social entities external to social actors concerned with their existence. The second aspect is Subjectivism, this consist of perceptions and consequent actions of social actors and their existence that create social phenomena is subjectivism.

– Objectivism
The belief that external to social factors, social entities are exists is believed by objectivism. As an example regardless of changes of suppliers, producers, manufactures, and consumers supply chain remain unchanged and on the other hand regardless of change in work force organization and its functioning remain unchanged. Quantitative mix method can be adapt in such studies.

– Subjectivism
Social actors’ perceptions and actions creates social phenomena and these are emphasize on subjectivism. With the continuous social reactions these social phenomena frequently gets revised. To understand the subjective reality of customers and their motives it is necessary to make strategies influencing customers’ philosophy. Qualitative method can be adapt for this kind of studies.

2. Epistemology

Chia (2002) defined epistemology as “How and what it is possible to know” .Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) did a summarize on epistemology as “Knowing how you can know” and expanded by asking how knowledge create, depending on which criteria it discriminate good and bad knowledge and the way that reality should be represented .Views about most suitable ways of investigating on nature of the world considered as epistemology by Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson (2008).

3. Axiology

A function of values and ethics during the research process can be referred as axiology. This integrated questions on how to deal with both our own values and research participants as researchers. As an example it considers personal communication with respondents is more valuable than the anonymous data collects through surveys.

Four aspects of philosophy

1. Positivism

Using empirical methods that make broad use of quantitative analysis or develop logical calculi to build formal theory can be defined as positivism. This is the attitude of natural scientist.

2. Realism

Realism relates to scientific inquiry. Substance of realism is that what senses provide and show is reality and truth. Realism is opposed to idealism in this consciousness, the theory and its contexts only exist.

Direct and critical realism

It says that what is visible is what is achieve. Through the senses what portrays the world accurately can be experienced. Critical realists says that not the direct things but the sensations and the images of the things in real world are what we experience and point out how the sensations cheat on us.

3. Interpretivism

Norms, rules and values that regulate people’s interactions is what concerned in interpretive research. It’s taken care of not to obligate previous norms, rules and values rather understand on their point of view.
The main focus is on social practices that underlie with what tell directly about reasons for the beliefs and actions. Creating novel, wealthy understandings and interpretations of social world is the aim of interpertivist research.


Important determinant of epistemology, ontology and axiology adopted which holds by pragmatism is the research question. Pragmatists recognize that single point of view cannot give the entire picture and there may be multiple realities in undertaking a research. Not that pragmatists use multiple methods rather they use method or methods to enable that the collected data is credible, reliable, and relevant and well founded (Kelemen and Rumens 2008).

Research Paradigms

Defined as “A way of examining social phenomenon from which particular understandings of these phenomena can be gained and explanations attempted” by (sounders et al. (2009).

There are two main research approaches
1. Deduction approach
2. Induction approach

– Deduction approach
Arriving to a conclusion by logically generalized facts is deduction approach.

Stages of testing theory in deduction approach, adapted from Robson (2012)
1. Deduce hypothesis
2. Operationally express the hypothesis
3. Testing operational hypothesis
4. Examine the specific outcome
5. Modify the theory (Only if necessary)

Characteristics of deduction approach
1.Explain the relationship between variables
2. Set up controls in testing hypothesis
3.Independence of the researcher
4. Operationalized for quantitative generalization
– Induction approach
Arriving to a conclusion on basis of observing certain phenomena is induction approach.

Build theory by
? Understand the way that the human create their world
? Permit alternative explanations
? Concerned with context of events
? Use qualitative data
? Various data collection methods

The right choice of research approach helps to make research design more informed, think of the research strategy which will suit for topic and adapt research design that suit for any constraint. If combining both research approaches, one should consider the nature of research topic, available time, risk and the audience of the research.