Critical realist philosophy offers an alternative both to the spurious scientificity of positivism and to idealist and relativist reactions to positivism.1 In this foreword, I shall sketch key features of critical realism and suggest how they might be important for research in organisation and management studies. This is a difficult task, not only because critical realism itself needs at least a book-length introduction on its own, but also, as we shall see, because the relationship between philosophies and substantive social theories is loose rather than tight. This foreword will therefore necessarily be telegrammatic in style, cutting many corners and offering citations where further discussion can be found.