Philosophy of Science & Business Administration

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Philosophy of Science

Topic Question: ‘In what sense do you think International Business Studies (IBS) is scientific or not scientific? Illustrate your point of view with a case from International Business Studies.’

Introduction

In this essay we will first elaborate on the early economists and their view on science. Then we will, with the use of possible philosophies of science, discuss to what extend IBS is scientific or not. Eventually we will summarize what we have discussed in the conclusion. But what is science? Many definitions are present and used in our society, we will start using a definition that we believe is quite complete: according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, the definition of science is "knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method. Such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena."

Main body

The rise of the early economists
In his book “The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers“ Robert Luis Heilbroner describes the great economic thinkers that our world has known. In the first chapter of his book, he describes how society has evolved over time and has caused for an economic system to develop that called for scientific analyses. In the next paragraphs a short outline will be given of his description of the developing need for economists.

Since the beginning of civilization, humans have depended upon each other for their survival. If a certain task in society was not being fulfilled, it would hurt everyone individually as well as society as a whole. From this perspective, it has always been in every individual’s best interest to have all tasks in society fulfilled. In early times this ground rule led to a very basic economic system that was either based on tradition or command. In the Middle Ages it was very common to have profession being passed on from generation to generation. This warranted for a balanced workforce in each branch and made the phenomena of ‘profit’ or ‘personal gain’ not only unnecessary, but also unheard of. If not determined by tradition, or custom, the economic survival was steered by command. One can think of dictatorship in the Soviet Union or the absolute authority of the Egyptian pharaoh’s who coordinated the construction of the pyramids. For a very long time, humans have managed to preserver their economic survival through these two methods: custom or command. The economic system was therefore very simple and quite evident and didn’t call for any analyses at scientific level. It was not until profit became a more accepted phenomenon, that a true economic revolution caused a third economic survival system to develop: the market system. In the market system, everyone does what he or she essentially thinks is best for themselves. If everyone pursues the highest personal gain possible, in the end this will balance out and all tasks will be done. This new economic system was a lot more complex than the solutions of custom or command and so the revolution also brought forth economists who analyzed and mapped the complexities of this new system. In 1776 Adam Smith wrote the famous “Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” which was the first great work to start off a whole new era to follow.

International Business Studies
As presented in class International Business Studies is based and formed by Science, Philosophy and Techniques which all together lead to a certain goal.

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Source: slides lecture 1, H. de Regt, 2008

On the first examination of this picture we would like to state that the three aspects above, are dependent on each other and altogether form IBS. This can be supported by the following statement: “science is the process of first gathering information, then developing hypotheses on possible solutions and verify by...
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