Unpacking Ontological Perspectives in CEM Research: Everything Is Biased

Fred Sherratt, Robert Leicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Methodological debates are nothing new in construction engineering and management (CEM) research. However, when the consequences, and at times even the content, of such debates are considered, what often emerges is both a superficiality and inconsistency in the way research methodologies are understood, mobilized and used to judge the rigor and value of empirical work. CEM research seems reluctant to engage with the nature of reality, the nature of knowledge, or, at times, with any philosophy at all. This paper explores and considers the influence, or lack of influence, that ontological and epistemological positioning has on much of our CEM research, and what that indicates for the findings we generate. With an explicit focus on bias, and the approaches taken within a volume, 173 manuscripts, of the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management are examined. We argue that multimethodological perspectives on a problem should be adopted where possible, able as they are to generate more holistic understandings and more comprehensive illuminations of phenomena in practice, and thereby support the development of a more mature CEM research discipline, both in terms of academic scholarship and relevance to practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04019101
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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