Organization and management research often includes measurable variables and relationships that can be analyzed using quantitative methods as well as constructs and relationships the require more flexible qualitative methods. Developing solid theory in social science is challenging and compared to the physical sciences is sometimes considered pseudoscience.
How much we know about the research questions, constructs or variables, and relationships and the decision whether to use a hypothesis determines the overall research approach – qualitative, quantitative, mixed. Identify the overall approach and the rationale for the approach. This will depend heavily on whether you will be building theory or testing theory. If little is known about the topic then it might be a theory-building study, however, if much is known about the topic, in general, it might be more appropriate to test the theory in a new context or with a new population.
Hint: If you are using a hypothesis then the overall approach should be a deductive, fixed, quantitative design. Often, management researchers find themselves somewhere in between with mixed methodologies the appropriate choice. Research traditions vary depending on the particular field and school. There are multiple cultures of inquiry and the nature of inquiry has evolved over time.
Chad McAllister’s [Prospectus Version] – The nature of the research tends to be theory-building and will be conducted as a mixed-methodology in an exploratory manner that begins with a qualitative investigation and is followed by a quantitative investigation. A conceptually similar mixed-methodology was used by Havelka, Sutton, and Arnold (1998a), who identified factors related to information system quality. The purpose of the qualitative investigation is to identify factors that influence users’ and developers’ misunderstanding requirements. The nominal group technique (NGT) will be used with six to eight small groups of six to 12 participants each. Pairs of small groups will be formed from users involved in requirement specification and developers of the same information system, resulting in three to four pairs. The small groups will be from companies engaged in the development of IS for internal use and willing to participate in the research. Three to four companies will be used. NGT has been applied in previous studies to identify factors related to IS (Havelka & Lee, 2002) and its appropriateness for the task has been supported (Havelka, Sutton, & Arnold, 1998b). NGT will identify the factors involved in misunderstanding requirements from the perspective of users and developers. An analysis will be performed to remove duplicates and consolidate similar factors, resulting in two distinct lists of factors—one created by users and the other created by developers.
A quantitative analysis will be performed to understand the importance users and developers place on each of the factors. Two survey instruments will be created to weight and rank the factors. The first survey will contain the user-generated factors and will be completed by the users who participated in the NGT groups. The second survey will contain the developer-generated factors and will be completed by the developers who participated in the NGT groups. If the number of factors is reasonably small (around 15 or less), the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) will be used. If the number of factors is larger, a Likert scale and magnitude analysis will be used to determine the importance of each factor. The results from each participant will be aggregated to create the absolute weightings of factors for users and developers.
- Identify the level of “empirical” knowledge (literature review).
- Identify the type of knowledge needed (purpose statement)
- Identify the options and select an approach based on the “Research Arc.”
- Describe the approach.
- Support your discussion with solid peer-reviewed references.
Align and Integrate
- The overall approach should provide clear guidance for the rest of the research methodology design: data collection, data analysis, and drawing conclusions.
- The selection of the overall approach should be in part based on the level of existing knowledge identified in the literature review.
- As with all the components of the research methodology, the overall approach should be appropriate for the variables, relationships, context, and so forth identified in the conceptual framework.