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2020/2021  KAN-CPHIO3007U  Philosophical Methods in Business Studies

English Title
Philosophical Methods in Business Studies

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Philosophy, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Daniel Souleles - Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy (MPP)
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and ethics
  • Methodology and philosophy of science
  • Organisation
Teaching methods
  • Online teaching
Last updated on 08-12-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Plan and conduct their own empirical investigation centered on the production and analysis of qualitative data
  • Critically reflect on the role and relevance of philosophical perspectives in their own projects
  • Discuss the consequences of their methodological and conceptual choices for the conclusions they are able to draw
  • Discuss the epistemological and ontological foundations and consequences of qualitative methods more broadly
  • Display an understanding of how methodological problems are (also) rooted in the reflective practices of organizations, businesses and corporations  
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved (see s. 13 of the Programme Regulations): 1
Compulsory home assignments
In order to be able to attend the exam, the student must have one written assignment approved. The assignment should relate to one of the themes of the course. Students are expected to write 15 pages based on methods worksheets completed throughout the semester
Philosophical Methods in Business Studies:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Individual oral exam based on written group product
Number of people in the group 2-5
Size of written product Max. 20 pages
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
The re-take consists of a written report and oral online examination
Description of the exam procedure

The exam consists of a written report and oral online examination

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

In a world in constant flux, how are knowledge, insight, values and ideas created and maintained in (organizational) practice? And how, in turn, do we create data fit for assisting our thinking about such questions? 


In this course, we study the relationship and intersections between the empirical and the conceptual by asking questions to the organizations we study, such as How are concepts translated into and negotiated in organizational practice?In doing so, we employ a dual focus: 

1) we will focus on the use of qualitative methods for the construction of knowledge, while 

2) we will investigate the philosophical-conceptual underpinnings of these methods and their connections with the reality analyzed. 


Through this combination, the course will be closely related to practice (through the development of the students’ methodological skills), while securing a level of critical philosophical reflection of the status of knowledge and reality, thus enabling the students to both conduct and evaluate empirical studies of organizational practice.  


Grouped in research teams students will gain experience with conducting an empirical research project through hands-on exercises in the central genres of the ethnographic research repertoire: interviews, observation and document studies, as well as data analysis and the formulation of research problems. 


Workshops following the logic of the research project (‘problem formulation and research question’, ‘data collection strategy’, ‘analysis’) will provide the structure for the students’ project work, while in a final workshop the students will present and critically discuss their analyses with each other.

Apart from the workshops relating directly to the student projects there will be lectures – in which key concepts and considerations are presented and discussed – and practical exercises aimed at developing the students’ methodological skills.


The course will provide the students with inspiration, method reflections and skills relevant for their master theses and other projects they will encounter in their master program as well as in future employment. 


Teaching methods               

The course will combine lectures with workshops in which the students go through the stages of conducting their own research project in groups. Each of these stages is concluded with a mandatory assignment.




The examination form is the same. The student must hand in (and pass) the three mandatory assignments (these can be written individually if necessary) at the latest two weeks before handing in the exam paper. 


Course schedule

The course will run over 32 confrontation hours with 2-5 hours once a week for 8 sessions from week 36 to 46. 


Preliminary course literature 

(Under development)


Haraway, Donna (1991) Simians, Cyborgs and Women – the reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge. Ch 9: Situated Knowledges p. 150-183. 


Latour, B. (2004): “How to talk about the body, the normative dimensions of science studies”. Body and Society, 10 (2-3), 20. 


Serres: M. (1979): The Algebra of Literature: The Wolf´s Game. In: Harari, J.V. (ed.): Textual Strategies: Perspectives in post-structuralist criticism. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 


Justesen, Lise Nederland, and Nanna Mik-Meyer (2012). Qualitative Research Methods in Organisation Studies. Gyldendal. Ch. 1 


Yanow, Dwora (2014) Neither Rigorous nor Objective? Interrogating Criteria for Knowledge Claims in Interpretive Science. In Yanow, Dwora and Schwartz-Shea, Peregrine (eds) Interpretation and Method. Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn. M. E. Sharpe, Second Edition, chap. 6: 97-119.

Description of the teaching methods
Altogether, the course serves to equip the students with methodological and analytical skills to engage in concrete empirical settings, both academically and practically. Familiarity with methodological tools and the ability to argue for quality in analysis represents an important qualification in any kind of knowledge work and is relevant in a number of activities ranging from consulting, strategy work, management and research.
Please note: due to the COVID 19 pandemic, all lectures, exercises, workshops, and presentations for this course will occur online. You will receive, from the course instructors, via the course’s CANVAS portal, a detailed explanation of how the course will operate in the week leading up to the course’s start. Workshops and ongoing informal feedback are still essential to the successful completion of this course, and will continue in a modified online format.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback is provided in class discussions as well as in relation to group work.
Student workload
Lectures 33 hours
Exam 10 hours
Preparation 164 hours
Last updated on 08-12-2020