Practice based research in business studies

Time: 26.-28.8.2015

Place: Aalto University, School of Business, Helsinki

Learning goal and objectives: Recently, there has been a growing interest in studying the business phenomena from practice based perspectives. The trend has been coined as the ‘practice turn’ in social sciences. However, in much of this literature, the particular theoretical and methodological appropriations of ‘practice theory’ vary as different scholars draw from somewhat different philosophical traditions with different ontological and epistemological assumptions. As a result, what is known as the ‘practice approach’ to management and organization studies as well as marketing studies is, in fact, somewhat heterogeneous field of scholarship with a range of distinctive approaches to the study of organizations and organizational activity.

The purpose of this course is to map out, explore and analyze the internal diversity of practice-based approaches to social theory in general and management and organization and marketing studies in particular. Using seminal papers and articles from top-tier journals as illustrative examples, the course identifies and scrutinizes, the philosophical, theoretical and methodological underpinnings of different approaches and elaborates on the ways in which these background assumptions and understandings come to guide theorizing and empirical analysis in research practice. Throughout the course, a number of empirical research examples (based on lecturers’ and students’ work) are employed.

After completing the course the student will have a comprehensive understanding of practice theories in business research and the methodological approaches practice theories call for. After completing the course students will be able toposition their own thesis work within practice theoretical traditions conceptualize empirical phenomena from practice theoretical perspective generate interesting and publishable practice-theoretically informed research problems and designs in their own fields understand research as field of practice where they participate.

Instruction and examination: (Course Requirements): The three-day intensive course will be organized in Helsinki, at Aalto University School of Business, August 26-28, 2014. Course work consists of lectures, student presentations, and class-based collaborative learning assignments, counting up to 6 credit points. Instruction is based on a package of pre-readings. Course language is English. Approximately 20-25 students will be accepted to the course.

• Regular class attendance

• Mastery of the assigned readings and active participation in classroom activities.

• Satisfactory completion of final course paper.

Credits: 6 ETCS

Grading: Students will be evaluated on a three-point scale (fair, good, excellent) based on their final course paper at the end of the course.

Prerequisites: The learning material for the course consists of a set of articles that cover both the seminal work and recent advances in practice theories. Course participants are requested to complete a pre-assignment on this material before the course starts.

Admittance: To apply for the course, please email (a) the application form given below and (b) a short research paper (max. 1600 words) on your PhD project to by May 31 2015. Please submit the application form and the paper as a single pdf-document, using your last name as the file name.

Acceptance decisions will be sent by 10.6. 2015 by e-mail.


Dr. Silvia Gherardi, Professor of Sociology, University of Trento

Dr. Saija Katila, Senior Lecturer, Adjunct professor, Aalto University School of Business

Dr. Pikka-Maaria Laine, Professor of Management, University of Lapland

Dr. Johanna Moisander, Professor of Business Communication, Aalto University School of Business

Dr. Keijo Räsänen, Professor of Management, Aalto University School of Business

Course coordinator and contact information: Ari Kuismin, Department of Management, Aalto University School of Business,

Application Form

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