Saturday, June 7, 2014

Research Methodology Course at NITIE - 2014 - Course Plan and Page

Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor,  Harvard Business Review, September 2003 

 "Why Hard Nosed Executives Should Care about Management Theory."

Converting Light (energy) into mass (matter) - Experiment
May 2014

Text Book - Doing Research in Business and Management - Dan Remenyi et al.



About the Authors

1. Business and Management Research in Perspective

2. Philosophical Background to Research

3. Research Strategies and Tactics

4. The Research Programme and Process

5. The Positivist Approach to Empirical Research

6. Phenomenology: The Non-Positivist Approach

7. The Research Process

8. Collecting Empirical Data

9. The Questionnaire or Measuring Instrument

10. The Case Study

11. The Sample

12. Statistical Analysis

13. Ethical Considerations

14. Writing up the Research

15. Evaluation of Masters and Doctoral Degrees


A. Note on Academic Degrees

B. Measuring Instruments

C. Further Information on Statistical Analysis

D. Useful Web Site Addresses

E. Software for Qualitative Evidence Analysis

F. A Glossary of Terms

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Philosophical Background to Research - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary

The starting point in all research undertakings is to focus clearly on the fact that the ultimate purpose is to add something of value to the body of accumulated knowledge and in this case accumulated business and management knowledge.   This means that an unanswered questioned or unsolved  problem will be identified the questioned or a solution to the problem. Of course the focus here is on difficult problems to which the solution is not obvious and which when solved will add material value to the subject area being studied.

Philosophical Questions
There are at least three philosophical questions about research itself that should be addressed at the outset of the research. These are:

Why research?
What to research?
And How to research?
 It could also be argued that Where to research? And when to research ? Although of lesser philosophical importance, also deserve attention.

Why Research?

The Need for research is related to the fact that there are many issues and subjects about which we have incomplete knowledge.

The second aspect of the need for research is related to ‘Homo sapiens’ compulsive need for growth.  There appears to be an endless requirement for increased performance in all aspect of life. Therefore there is the need continually to break the frontiers of knowledge through the research process.

What (and where) to Research ?

The questions what to research? And Where to research? Are closely related.

What to research may at first seem obvious. In business and management the main focus of research should be on issues related to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the business and management  process.

Every would-be researcher will previously have studied a particular subject or discipline in some considerable depth.  This may have been achieved through an undergraduate degree in economics, sociology, psychology or accounting, to mention only few possible options.  It may also have been achieved without a degree, through many years of working experience, especially where the individual has made a definite effort to keep up with the latest thinking in the field by reading the appropriate literature.

These studies and/or experiences will have provided a strong base on which to build a research programme.  However, as well as having in-depth knowledge of the subject, the aspirant researcher  should also be widely read in order to put the research into context as well as to identify and draw on interdisciplinary linkage and connections.

Although some people do change disciplines, such a change will demand a substantial amount of work before the candidate becomes fully up to date with the subject matter and acquires sufficient familiarity  with the relevant body of academic thinking.

In addition to the researchers’ own competence there is the issue of the expertise of the chosen institute and potential supervisors.

Whether or not such a personality oriented approach is adopted, it is most important for the student to find a research field in which the faculty has expertise and interest.

Business research is commonly aimed at helping to develop management understanding of how business organizations work.   It is frequently suggested that the best business research should lead to the development of guidelines by which individuals in positions of responsibility can manage their business responsibilities more efficiently and effectively.

How to Research?

At the outset it is important to appreciate that the nature of the research process is often relatively unstructured and frequently unpredictable.
It is something described as a voyage of discovery during which the researcher learns much and  may even learn something of him or herself.

A major concern to the researcher is the ability to deliver a convincing, or at least a credible, answer or solution that will be accepted by his or her peers.  It is important for the researcher to be able to convince the peer group that the approach to the research has been sound.  This requires an understanding of the nature of the required to create knowledge.

To claim that a valuable or significant addition has been made to the collection of knowledge, the researcher should comply with a scientific method, or approach, which is an informal but strict set of rules that have evolved to ensure the integrity, reliability and reproducibility of the research work.  This is not easy because there are almost as many definitions of science as there are scientists.

A  researcher has to be able to convince an audience  of the value and relevance of his or her research efforts. This audience, which may be composed of examiners, funders and colleagues, is likely to be critical.
In addition, the academic researcher needs to explain why his or her research should be considered important and needs to be able to point out precisely what was found and what use the findings are to the community.  The researcher needs to be able to argue convincingly that something new and of value has been added to the body of knowledge.

Sound answers to these questions rely on the philosophical underpinning of the research process.

Commercial research or intelligence is about accessing already established knowledge and presenting it in a more accessible manner for the purposes of routine decision making. This type of research, although conducted by many business schools in order to earn money, may have virtually no scholarly or academic merit.

Research Methodologies in Perspective

Research methodology refers to the procedural framework within which the research is conducted. It describes an approach to a problem that can be put into practice in research programme or process, which Leedy (1989) formally defines as “an operational framework within which the facts are placed so that their meaning may be seen more clearly.

In the modern physical sciences, the solid tradition of experimental research and careful observation was combined with a rigorous formulation based In mathematics.  Indeed,Needham(1988) has argued that “Modern [as opposed to mediaeval or ancient]  science is the mathematisation of hypotheses about nature …  combined with rigorous experimentation.’

This is so much the case that now the rules of scientific experiments are seldom explicitly taught to aspirant natural scientists.

Research in the Social world

Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and many others through the ages have made important contributions to social science. Research into business and management is even more recent with the Hawthorne experiments in the late 1920s and early 1930s probably being among the earliest structures business research studies.

Because research into business and management has developed relatively recently, much attention is given to the methods employed to justify the claim that something material and valuable has been added to the body of accumulated knowledge. As a result, research methodology is explicitly taught to those undertaking business and management studies.

Furthermore any material research in business or management, such as that undertaken for a masters or a doctoral degree, requires that the methodology used be clearly spelt out, perhaps in a chapter of its own (Remenyi,1990b),so that the results of the research are convincing or at least credible.

A degree of generality is intrinsically built into the laws developed by the social scientist even when generalisation is not a key issue.  This occurs because once a phenomenon has been identified, even only once, the probability of it being unique is so low as to make it almost impossible.  In fact there is a growing confidence among social scientists that their work is fully scientific and that in some cases traditional physical and natural scientists are actually being left behind because of their reluctance to consider new ways of thinking about scientific methods.

Perhaps in the end the view of Marx(1844) will prevail, ’Natural science will in time incorporate into itself  the science of man, just as the science of man will incorporate into itself natural science : there will be one science.’

Empirical versus Theoretical Research

One of the most commonly used differentiates research into empirical or theoretical studies.  Empirical is defined by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as : ‘based on, or guided by, the results of observation or experiment only’, While theoretical  is defined as, ‘contemplative, of the mind or intellectual faculties’.

The rationale behind this bias for empiricism is a philosophical assumption that evidence, as opposed to thought or discourse, is required to be able to make a satisfactory claim to have added to the body of knowledge.  Of course it is not always easy to collect usable evidence which can lead to convincing and believable results. Furthermore, every empirical investigation presupposes an understanding of the material under investigation and therefore some kind of theoretical position.

The empiricist goes out into the world and observes through experiment or even by relatively passive observation of what is happening.  By studying these observation and collecting related evidence, the empiricist will draw conclusions and make the claim that something of value has been added to the body of knowledge

The research theorist, on the other hand, studies the subject through the writings of others and through discourse with learned or informed individuals who can comment on the subject area, usually without any direct involvement in observation of behaviour and the collection of actual evidence.  The theorist reflects on these ideas and using his or her intellectual capabilities constructs a new or different view of the situation ,which sometimes may be regarded as a new theory.  At the end of the theorist’s work  conclusions are also drawn and a claim is made that the researcher has added to the body of knowledge.

A paradigm or theory is no more than the conventional wisdom of the subject .

On the other hand theoretical research, although not directly based on evidence collected from observation, also relies on ideas which have at some previous time been based on specific observations or original  evidence collected by means of empirical work.  Theoretical research does not occur in a vacuum, it is rather the result of thinking about the findings of previous  empirical research and of debating the different theoretical interpretations that others have made.

Empirical research is the dominant paradigm in business and management research.

Empirical research is frequently associated with a positivist view which has sometimes been described as a tough-minded approach to facts and figures, derived from the physical and  natural sciences.

Characteristics of a positivist

Being a positivist, or perhaps more correctly a logical positivist, implies that the researcher is working with an observable social reality and that the end product of such research can be the derivation of laws or law-like generalisations similar to those produced by the physical and natural scientists.  Positivism came into its own with the work  of Auguste Comte (1798-1857)who outlined an approach to positivism in his ‘course of Positive Philosophy’, published in six volumes between 1830 and 1842.

This philosophical stance or paradigm sees the researcher as an objective analyst and interpreter of a tangible social reality.  Underlying positivism is the assumption that the researcher is independent of and neither affects nor is affected by the subject of the research.  It is assumed that there are independent causes that lead to the observed effects, that evidence is critical, that parsimony is important and that it should be possible to generalise or to model, especially in the mathematical sense, the observed phenomena.  Positivism emphasises quantifiable observations that lend themselves to statistical analysis.

Falsification and Revolution
One of the central tenets of positivism is the idea of falsification, which was introduced by karl Popper.  According to Popper an idea could not be regarded as scientific unless it was falsifiable.

This may be seen as the way that falsification actually works its way through to theory or paradigm rejection.


According to Cohen and Manion (1987), ’Phenomenology is a theoretical point of view that advocates the study of direct experience taken at face value, and one which sees behaviour as determined by the phenomena of experience rather than by external, objective and physically described reality.’

The phenomenological school of thought started with the work of Franz Brentano(1838-1917) and was developed by Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) who set out the basic methods of phenomenology in his work Logical Investigations. Unlike the positivist , the phenomenologist does not  consider the world to consist of an objective reality but instead focuses on the primacy of subjective consciousness.

Each situation is seen as unique and its meaning is  a function of the circumstances and the individuals involved.  To the phenomenologist the researcher is not independent of what is being researched but is an intrinsic part of it.

The phenomenologist believes that the world can be modelled, but not necessarily in a mathematical sense.  A verbal, diagrammatic, or descriptive model could be acceptable.

The researcher constructs a meaning in terms of the situation being studied.

Comparison between Positivism and phenomenology

One of the key tenets of positivism is that it takes a reductionist approach to exploring the relationships among the variables being studied.

This reductionist approach should by its very nature lead to simplifications of the real world environment in which the variables naturally or usually exist.

As the researcher taking another still photograph of the situation and this process is repeated until enough evidence has been collected to make some sort of generalisation.

On the other hand, a phenomenological approach to research is not reductionist but holistic.

At the end of the research study the phenomenological researcher has also produced a still photograph of the variables being studied.  Although this photograph is more sophisticated than the one obtained by the positivist it achieves approximately the same.

By definition, it is more difficult to replicate such holistic studies and generalisations are much more problematical.

A map of the world is no less a model than is E=mc2, which is Einstein’s model for the relationship between energy and mass.

‘Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement. ‘

Choosing a Research Strategy

The philosophical orientation that is adopted plays an important role in business and management research and the researcher needs to establish his or her approach early on it the research process.   Usually the choice between the different approaches is not difficult for researchers to make.

Most research at the masters and doctoral level will require both theoretical and empirical work.  Few business and management students would attempt purely theoretical research as this would be difficult and it would be neither academically acceptable nor really possible to undertake a purely theoretical research project at this level.

Whether  a positivistic or a phenomenological approach is taken will largely depend on the background of the researcher.  If the first discipline of the researcher has been in the numerical sciences then he or she will probably be most comfortable with a positivistic research paradigm, but if the researcher has come from a sociological field then the phenomenological approach may be the right choice.  Whether research paradigm is chosen the ability to develop a convincing argument in support of the research findings is paramount.

Theory Building - Course Page

Grounded Theory - A Methodology for Generating Theory

Glaser and Strauss - Grounded Theory - Chapter 2 - Generating Theory - Quotations and Summary

Theory Building Course Page

Suggested Reading:

Andersen, P.H.; Kragh, H. (2010) Sense and Sensibility: Two approaches for using existing theory in theory-building qualitative research, Industrial Marketing Management, 39, 49-55.

Anderson, Paul F. (1983) Marketing, Scientific Progress, and Scientific Method, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 18-31

Argyris, Chris (1991) Teaching Smart People How to Learn, Harvard Business Review, 99-109, May-June.

Astley, W.G. and Van de Ven, A.H. (1983) Central Perspectives and Debates in Organization Theory. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 28, June, pp. 245-273.

Bacharach, S. (1989) Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation, AMR 14: 496-515.

Booth, W.C., Colomb, G.C., Williams, J.M. (1995) 2nd edition, The Craft of Research. Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press

Colquitt, Jason A. & Zapata-Phelan, Cindy P. (2007) Trends in Theory Building and Theory Testing: A Five-Decade Study of the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, 50: 1281-1303

Corley Kevin G. & Dennis A. G. (2011) Building Theory About Theory Building: What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review, 36: 12-32

Davis, M. (1971) That’s interesting! Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 1: 309-344.

Eisenhardt, K. (1989) Building theories from case study research, Academy of Management Review, 14(4): 532-550.

Ghoshal, S. (2005) Bad management theories are destroying good management practices, AMLE, 4(1): 75-91.

Grunert, K.G., Shepherd, R., Traill, W.B. & Wold, B. (forthcoming) Food choice, energy balance and its determinants: Views of human behaviour in economics and Psychology, Trends in Food Science & Technology

Huber, G.P. (2010) “Organizations: Theory, Design, Future.” APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Hunt, Shelby D. & Morgan, R.M. (1996) The Resource-Advantage Theory of Competition: Dynamics, Path Dependencies, and Evolutionary Dimensions, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 60, No. 4, pp. 107-114.

Langley, A. (1999) Strategies for theorizing from process data, Academy of Management Review, 24(4): 691-710.

Lewis, M & Grimes, A. (1999) Metatriangulation: Building theory from multiple paradigms, Academy of Management Review, 24: 672-690.

Locke, K.; Golden-Biddle, K. (1997) Constructing opportunities for contribution: structuring intertextual coherence and 'problematizing' in organizational studies, AMJ, 40(5), 1023-1062.

March (1991) “Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning”, Organization Science, Vol. 1, No. 1; pp. 71-87.

McGrath, J.E.; Brinberg D. (1983) External Validity and the Research Process: A Comment on the Calder/Lynch Dialogue, The Journal of Consumer Research, 10(1), 115-124.

Oswick, C., Fleming, P. & Hanlon, G. (2011) From borrowing to blending: Rethinking the processes of organizational theory building, Academy of Management Review, 36: 318-337.

Oxley, J. E., Rivkin, J. W., and Ryall, M. D. (2010). The strategy research initiative: Recognizing and encouraging high-quality research in strategy, Strategic Organization, 8(4): 377-386.

Rindova, V. (2008). Publishing theory when you are new to the game, Academy of Management Review, 33: 300-303.

Smith, K. & Hitt, M. (2005) Epilogue: Learning to develop theory from the masters, Great Minds in Management: The Process of Theory Development, Oxford University Press, pp. 572-589.

Suddaby, R. (2006) What Grounded Theory Is Not, Academy of Management Journal, 49, 4, 633-642.

Sutton, Robert I. & Staw, B.M. (1995) What theory is not, Administrative Science Quarterly, 40: 371-385.

Weick, K.E. (1989) Theory construction as disciplined imagination, AMR, 14(4), 516–531.

Whetten, David A. (1989) What constitutes a theoretical contribution? Academy of Management Review, 14: 490-495.

Whetten, D., Felin, T. & King, B. (2009) The practice of theory borrowing in organizational studies: Current issues and future directions, Journal of Management, 35: 537-563.

Theory Development and Testing in Organization-Related Empirical Research

Spring 2007, Prof Mason A. Carpenter

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Theory Building - Resources

AMR Best Articles

Allan Afuah, and Christopher L. Tucci
Crowdsourcing As a Solution to Distant Search
AMR 2012 37:355-375; doi:10.5465/amr.2010.0146
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Sim B. Sitkin, Kelly E. See, C. Chet Miller, Michael W. Lawless, and Andrew M. Carton
The Paradox of Stretch Goals: Organizations in Pursuit of the Seemingly Impossible
AMR 2011 36:544-566;
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Charalampos Mainemelis
Stealing Fire: Creative Deviance in the Evolution of New Ideas
AMR 2010 35:558-578;
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Richard Makadok, and Russell Coff
Both Market and Hierarchy: An Incentive-System Theory of Hybrid Governance Forms
AMR 2009 34:297-319; doi:10.5465/AMR.2009.36982628
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Julian Birkinshaw, Gary Hamel, and Michael J. Mol
Management Innovation
AMR 2008 33:825-845; doi:10.5465/AMR.2008.34421969
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Erik Dane, and Michael G. Pratt
Exploring Intuition and its Role in Managerial Decision Making
AMR 2007 32:33-54; doi:10.5465/AMR.2007.23463682
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Elizabeth George, Prithviraj Chattopadhyay, Sim B. Sitkin, and Jeff Barden
Cognitive Underpinnings of Institutional Persistence and Change: A Framing Perspective
AMR 2006 31:347-365; doi:10.5465/AMR.2006.20208685
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Fabrizio Ferraro, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and Robert I. Sutton
Economics Language and Assumptions: How Theories can Become Self-Fulfilling
AMR 2005 30:8-24; doi:10.5465/AMR.2005.15281412
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Nicole Woolsey Biggart, and Rick Delbridge
Systems of Exchange
AMR 2004 29:28-49; doi:10.5465/AMR.2004.11851707
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Mary J. Benner, and Michael L. Tushman
Exploitation, Exploration, and Process Management: The Productivity Dilemma Revisited
AMR 2003 28:238-256; doi:10.5465/AMR.2003.9416096
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Inventing a New Theory of Nature - Constraints

Inventing a new theory of nature requires, as Feynman [1] said, ‘imagination in a terrible strait–jacket’. Unlike the artist who need not obey constraints, as scientists we are not free to imagine whatever we want—the new theory must obey a ‘correspondence principle’. It must, obviously, give different predictions from those of the old theory for some phenomena, but at the same time it must agree with the old theory in all the places in which the old theory was already experimentally verified. For all those experiments the new theory must give numerical results that are very similar to those of the old theory; the only acceptable difference must be smaller than the precision of the measurements that seemed to confirm the old theory.

Insofar as the numerical predictions of a theory are concerned, the correspondence principle is fairly obvious and straightforward. However, theories are not only mathematical devices for making numerical predictions—they contain concepts that tell us a story of what the nature of physical reality is and, as Feynman also noted, even in situations when the numerical predictions of two theories are almost identical, the concepts they involve may be completely different. Indeed, it is a fundamental conceptual difference between, say, mass being an absolute constant or mass changing with the speed even when the speed is so low that the change of mass is negligible.

The Classical Limit of Quantum Optics: Not what it seems at first sight