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Why Economics and Business Studies Should, But Cannot, Be Multi-disciplinary

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Why Economics and Business Studies Should, But Cannot, Be Multi-disciplinary
Wednesday, 15 December 2010, 16:00 - 17:30


Conselho do Curso 1º Ciclo EIRE

Tem a honra de convidar a comunidade académica para a Palestra a ser proferida pelo Doutor Steve Fleetwood, Professor Catedrático da Bristol Business School, University of West England. A palestra será seguida de Workshop (18.00h – 19.00h). Ambos os eventos são subordinados ao tema Why Economics and Business Studies Should, But Cannot, Be Multi-disciplinary”





Abstract / Resumo


This lecture identifies, and elaborates upon an important tension. Economics, Business Studies and related disciplines modeled on (some versions of) natural science, cannot be (genuinely) multi-disciplinary despite the fact that multi-disciplinarity would increase their ability or power to explain the phenomena they deal with – i.e. increase their explanatory power. Whilst economists do recognize the existence of `non-economic´ domains and phenomena (e.g. political, social and organizational) and occasionally include them in their models, this should not be misinterpreted as (genuine) multi-disciplinarity. For economists, these phenomena are imperfections, frictions, restrictions or constraints that merely influenc the operation of markets: they are not conceived of as actually creating or constituting markets. But why stop with political, social and organizational phenomena? The political and organizational domains include power, ideology and conflict; the social domain includes class, gender, race, sexual orientation and intersectionality. Then there is the cultural domain that includes norms, values, discourse, language and signs; the artefactual domain that includes machinery, technology and the built environment, and so on. Disciplines like Economics and Business Studies cannot, typically, include phenomena like these in their models and cannot, therefore, engage in a dialogue with commentators from other disciplines. This not only locks economists (et al) into a mono-disciplinary `prison´, it also means that insights (concepts, theories, observations, stories, discourses, conclusions etc) from other social science and humanities disciplines are ignored and cannot, therefore, be used to enhance explanatory power. Using the example of Labour Economics, but with insights from Human Resource Management, Organization Theory, Sociological Theory, Cultural Studies, Critical Discourse Analysis and Philosophy of Science, this lecture will explain the reason for this unsatisfactory state of affairs. It draws upon a recent (2010) book, written jointly with Anthony Hesketh, entitled Explaining the Performance of Human Resource Management.





Steve Fleetwood is a Professor of Employment Relations & Human Resource Management in the department of HRM, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England. After a career as a (not too successful) professional racing cyclist, Steve enrolled in John Moores University, in his native Liverpool where he studied Social Sciences and economics. This was followed by an MA and a PhD in the Department of Economics, in the University of Cambridge. After gaining his doctorate, he went on to teach Economics, Sociology and Social Theory at De Montfort University; Organization Theory and Employment Relations at Lancaster University; and Employment Relations and HRM at the University of the West of England. His work has been motivated by two desires. First, a desire to break entirely with disciplinary boundaries and engage in genuinely multi-disciplinary analysis. He made a conscious decision to teach and research in disciplines like Labour Economics, Sociology of Work, Social Theory, Critical Discourse Analysis, Employment Relations, HRM, Gender Studies and Organization Studies. Second, a desire to integrate empirical, theoretical and meta-theoretical (i.e. philosophical) levels of analysis. He seeks not to be a philosopher, but rather a philosophically informed social scientist, capable of understanding perspectives such as positivism, post-positivism, critical realism, postmodernism, poststructuralism and  social constructionism.


Location : Anfiteatro 8, Piso 3 - Campus Universitário da Penteada