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Chapter 3

Chapter 3
Research methodology
Table of contents
3.1. Introduction................................................................................................................................79 3.2. The interpretive research approach...........................................................................................79 3.3. The case study strategy............................................................................................................83 3.4. Research design .........................................................................................................................88 3.4.1. The selection of the case study sites......................................................................................88 3.4.2. The sub-units of analysis........................................................................................................90 3.4.3. Data sources...........................................................................................................................90 3.4.4. Data collection and analysis...................................................................................................91 3.4.5. Theoretical framework...........................................................................................................94 3.5. Summary....................................................................................................................................96

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Chapter 3

Research methodology
3.1. Introduction
The purpose of this chapter is to present the philosophical assumptions underpinning this research, as well as to introduce the research strategy and the empirical techniques applied. The chapter defines the scope and limitations of the research design, and situates the research amongst existing research traditions in information systems.

The philosophical assumptions underlying this research come from the interpretive tradition. This implies a subjective epistemology and the ontological belief that reality is socially constructed. The research strategy adopted was to conduct multiple case studies in two organisations and in a community. The fieldwork was conducted at the sites during the period from February 2000 to April 2001 and a steady correspondence has been maintained with the different informants at the sites. The main data collection techniques used in this research study were semi-structured interviews, participant observation, group discussion, documentation analysis and questionnaires. This chapter is divided into three sections. In the first, the interpretive stance in the field of information systems is examined. The next section is about the research strategy. It describes the research approach followed in case study research. Finally, section three deals with the research design and covers the reasons for selecting organisations, data sources, research analysis sub-units, data collection and analysis, and a brief summary of the expectations from the theoretical framework adopted. 3.2. The interpretive research approach

Based on the philosophical assumptions adopted, research can be classified as positivist, interpretive and critical (Myers et. al., 1998). Different research methods such as case study, and action research, can be positivist, or interpretive or critical, though often this distribution is extremely contentious (Walsham, 1995a).

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Chapter 3
An IS research project can be considered positivist if there is evidence of formal propositions, quantifiable measures of variables, hypothesis testing, deducing the inferences concerning the phenomena from the representative sample to a stated population (Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991). Positivist approaches assume that the relationship between social reality and humans is independent, objective of the...
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