Complementing a positivist approach to investment analysis with critical realism: Challenges and a way forward

Loretta O'Donnell, Robin Kramar, Maria Dyball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify the challenges in adding a critical realist epistemological perspective to a positivist approach in research on listed companies by equity researchers and other financial services professionals. Design/methodology/approach – A purposive sample of publicly available equity research reports was examined to assess the dominant epistemological approach to investment analysis. Findings – It was found that there is an absence of a critical realist epistemological approach to investment analysis, confirming the dominance of a positivist approach to obtaining and analysing investment information. Research limitations/implications – This research drew on a small, purposive sample, and could be followed by more wide-scale research. Taking a critical realist approach may create a clash of “institutional logics” which will need to be considered by a range of stakeholders. Originality/value – Equity research reports are examined through the lens of critical realism. This exploration allows for an additional epistemological perspective on analysis of firm value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-25
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Research in Financial Markets
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2013


  • Critical realism
  • Epistemology
  • Financial analysis
  • Investments
  • Public companies


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