This paper is concerned with analysing the role of rhetoric and literary criticism in research and scholarship. It is argued that critical debate and dialogue are the hub of the process of research and scholarship and that social science and literature have more in common than is normally recognized. Most of these debates are carried out in writing and involve elaborate writing and reading of texts – or literature as we prefer to call it. We argue the case that management researchers may have something to learn from literary criticism. A model of literary criticism comprising four different modes of criticism – mimetic, expressive, pragmatic and objective – is described and the implications for management research are suggested. The paper concludes with a number of reflections on what can be gained from this type of analysis and on the role of reflexivity in the research process.