Realism is based on the philosophical assumption that what the senses show us is reality and that objects have an existence independent of the human mind (Saunders et al, 2007). Realism shares some philosophical aspects with
Positivism as it assumes a scientific approach to the development of knowledge, underpinning this assumption is the collection of data and the understanding of those data.
There are two types of realism, direct and critical realism. Direct realism states that what you see is what you get, what we experience portrays the world accurately. However, critical realists argue that what we experience aresensations, the images of things in the real world, not the things directly(Saunders et al, 2007).Therefore realism may be seen from two different view points by the researcher. The direct realist perspective suggests the worldis relatively unchanging and operates only at one level in an organisation. On the other hand critical realists consider that the world is constantly changing and operates at multiple-levels within an organisation (Saunders et al, 2007).However realism also has some common grounds with Social Constructionism in that people are not objects to be studied as the case in natural science.Realism is more concerned with exposing and identifying what reality is as opposed to discovering it (Easterby-Smith et al, 2004). Therefore, knowledge isadvanced through the process of theory-building in which discoveries add to what is already known.
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