Relevance, Realism and Rigour:
A Third Way for Social and Economic Research

CPM Report No.: 99-56
By: Scott Moss
Date: 30th November, 1999


This paper lays down a challenge to adopt a third way for social and economic research.  This third way rejects economics as bad science and intellectually dishonest.  It also rejects approaches to management research that retreat into the notion that there is no objective reality.  The first is too remote from reality to be useful in the development of social policy and the second is too introspective to support a social analysis that is relevant to policy.

The third way – as in contemporary politics – recognises that social institutions are a product of individual behaviour and action.  In order to live and work together, people develop norms of behaviour, common beliefs, notions of responsibility, right and duty.  The problem for social scientists is to develop ways of developing the concept of the third way as a useful approach to policy analysis.

The paper makes four key points that are backed by evidence from the relevant literatures:

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