Research methods in business and management
The most common classification splits the methods used in organisational and business research into two large groups, namely quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantitative methodology incorporates methods that have been designed to facilitate research in the field of natural (physical) sciences. Therefore, the main mission of quantitative research is to ensure validity and reliability of study results (Dingwall et al, 1998). Examples of quantitative methods widely used in the social sciences and business and management research are survey methods, formal methods (e.g. econometrics), laboratory experiments and several numerical methods (e.g. mathematical modelling) (Myers, 1997). Quantitative stance offers a variety of tools including standardized questionnaires and survey, experiments, etc (Wainer and Braun, 1998). The concepts of reliability and validity have traditionally been considered the cornerstones of quantitative approach. On the other hand, poor applicability to examination of poorly quantifiable issues is a serious shortcoming of quantitative methods and techniques. This effect is known as ‘decontextualization' of study results: models built on the basis of quantitative results fail to cover certain essential variables that come into play in the real world context (Patton, 2002). By contrast, qualitative methodology seeks to explore phenomena in the “real world setting [where] the researcher does not attempt to manipulate the phenomenon of interest” (Patton, 2002: 39). Qualitative stance can be defined as follows: “...any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification” (Strauss and Corbin, 1990: 17). Qualitative research reveals findings observed in the real world context where the phenomena being studied unfold naturally (Patton, 2002). As a result, qualitative perspective incorporates a different set of validation criteria than quantitative stance does (Kirk and Miller, 1986). For example, the replicability criterion can not be used to evaluate validity and legitimacy of a qualitative study. Instead, credibility, transferability and precision play very important role in determining validity of qualitative findings (Hoepfl, 1997). Some researchers argue that the concept of validity as it is defined within the quantitative paradigm is also not applicable to qualitative research (Creswell and Miller, 2000). Instead, they tend to develop their own concepts of validity or adopt other assessment criteria that depend upon each particular case. The examples of such criteria are quality, trustworthiness, rigor and some others (Dingwall et al, 1998). The distinctions between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies are determined by the underlying philosophical principles. The choice of epistemology, which guides the research, is admittedly the most important of these principles (Hirschheim, 1992). Epistemology
Over the last years many experts have expressed concerns regarding the use of positivist paradigm and methods associated with it in the area of business and organisational research. The underlying assumption of positivist perspective, which is existence of an objective world that can be measured and quantified through the use of traditional scientific methods of inquiry - has been vigorously attacked. A number of organisational theorists started to claim that the positivist approach “...strips contexts from meanings in the process of developing quantified measures of phenomena” (Guba and Lincoln, 1994: 106). Other concerns about the applicability of quantitative methodologies to in-dept examination of complex social phenomena include taking the collected data out of the real-world setting, poor representativeness and generalisation of data, exclusion of discovery from the realm of scientific inquiry, etc The positivist perspective rests upon the founding...
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