The Narrative Research Method

Topics: Mobile phone, Narrative, Cellular network Pages: 25 (9731 words) Published: April 5, 2013
The use of narrative research in IS has been limited although there have been some recent publications (Alvarez & Urla, 2002; Davidson, 1997; Dube & Robey, 1999, Hirschheim & Newman, 1991). Table 2 lists some of these studies. However, the clear understanding of how to conduct, interpret and describe narrative research in the context of information systems does not exist and is being provided in this paper. Here, we explain the theoretical foundations and key elements of narrative research and present an exemplar of the application of this method. Table 2. Narrative Research in IS

Authors| Research Title| Publication|
Bartis, E., Mitev, N. (2008) | A multiple narrative approach to information systems failure: a successful system that failed| European Journal of Information Systems, (17:2), p. 112| bJoseph, D., Kok-Yee Ng; Koh, C., Soon Ang. (2007)| Information Technology Professionals: A Narrative Review, Meta-Analytic Structural Equation Modeling, and Model Development| MIS Quarterly, (31:3), p547-577| Kuechler, W. L., Vaishnavi, V. (2006)| So, Talk To Me: The Effect of Explicit Goals on The Comprehension of Business Process Narratives| MIS Quarterly, (30:4), p961-A16| Chae, B., Poole, M.S. (2005) | The surface of emergence in systems development: agency, institutions, and large-scale information systems| European Journal of Information Systems, (14:1), p. 19| Roy, M. C., Lerch, F. J. (1996)| Overcoming Ineffective Mental Representations in Base-rate Problems| Information Systems Research, (7:2), p233-247|

The basic idea behind narrative research method is that all people can tell stories. Storytelling is a universal social activity that we are taught as children learning to speak. For the purpose of studying socio-economic development, an especially appealing attribute of (narrative research) is the way in which it can display the assets of those usually considered to have none. A lack of academic learning does not preclude expertise in narrative knowing or skill in narrative expression (Casey, 1996).

So narrators from a variety of circumstances, including illiterate, highly literate, younger folks and older people in urban and rural areas can become research participants. The collection and analysis of stories adds a dimension missing in other methodologies. Participants’ narratives are not only valuable for the information they provide; they also allow us to see socio-economic development through the eyes of those whose lives are changed by it. The researcher’s perspective can be enlarged or even changed by the interpretations of those at the grassroots of development. The significance of narrative is that its information comes complete with evaluations, and explanations and theories, with selectivities and silences, which are intrinsic to its representation of reality. (Narrative research), in all its rich wholeness, will illuminate conscious human activity in a way positivism never can. (PMG in Casey, 1993)

So stories can provide deep insight into the ways individuals experience and understand socio-economic changes in their lives. Narrative research is also useful for studying the perceptions of various social groups. Because communication is a social activity, children are initiated into particular social identities as part of specific social communities with their own perspectives and ways of interpreting experience. “Studying narratives is... useful for what they reveal about social life; culture ‘speaks itself’ through an individual’s story” (Reissman, 1993). The term “social dialect”, (Casey, 1993) refers to commonalities of vocabulary, grammar, values and beliefs which can be found in the transcribed narratives of members of the same social group. These commonalities constitute the elements of a “cultural framework of meaning” (Casey, 1996). To receive the full benefits of narrative research, the researcher must allow...
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