A fractured fable: The three little pigs and using multiple paradigms

Andrew Hurt, Jamie Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paradigms aid organizational researchers in their quest to find the ‘truth’ of a particular event, phenomenon, activity, or topic and by providing them a framework with which to make assumptions about the nature of society and reality. According to Burrell and Morgan (1978), organizational researchers use one of four paradigms: functionalist, interpretivist, radical humanist, and radical structuralist. However, there is a growing body of research which postulates that multiple paradigms can be used to interpret organizational phenomenon (Lewis & Grimes, 1999). Nevertheless, truly understanding and applying these four primary paradigms is challenging, so before they can be used in an integrative manner , HRD scholars need to find a means to help professionals learn about and make sense of the concept of paradigms. We contend that a highly effective means of learning about complex phenomena are popular culture artifacts such as fables and fairy tales. Thus, this paper presents a fable of the aftermath of the Three Little Pigs fairy tale as a vehicle for presenting the concept of paradigms in an accessible way by relating the four paradigms as presented by Burrell and Morgan (1978) to each of the characters in the fable. The paper then concludes by offering suggestions for using multiple paradigms in sensemaking, teaching and learning, and organizational research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalNew Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'A fractured fable: The three little pigs and using multiple paradigms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this