Thinking Driven by Doubt and Passion: Kierkegaard and Reflexivity in Organisation Studies
Journal article, 2004

Organisation studies based on qualitative methodologies continually seek legitimacy in relation to positivist research formulating nomological knowledge on administrative practices. One of the key features regularly praised in qualitative research is the idea of reflexivity, the ability of the qualitative researcher to critically examine his or her own analysis. This paper argues that the notion of reflexivity is an uncontested area of qualitative organisation research which merits critical study. In contrast to the reflexivity model which assumes an autopoietic double hermeneutic of the examined empirical material, it draws on Kierkegaard’s notion of subjective thinking. For Kierkegaard it is not reflexivity that serves as the primus motor for subjective thinking but doubt, paradox and passion. A critique of the notion of reflexivity opens up alternative accounts of qualitative research which need not assume self-correcting and self-directed analysis.

Management Volume

Qualitative Researcher

Positivist Research

Interpretative Research

Empirical Material


Alexander Styhre

Institute for Management of Innovation and Technology (IMIT)

Philosophy of Management

1740-3812 (ISSN) 2052-9597 (eISSN)

Vol. 4 2 9-18

Subject Categories

History of Ideas


Social Sciences Interdisciplinary



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