Methodological fit in management field research

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Methodological fit in management field research

  1. 1. METHODOLOGICAL FIT IN MANAGEMENTFIELD RESEARCHAMY C. EDMONDSON - Harvard BusinessSchoolSTACY E. MCMANUS - Monitor ExecutiveDevelopment1Prepared by/ Nashwa Ghoneim
  2. 2. Gap! Methodological fit has received little attention inmanagement literature. Guidelines for achieving methodological fit aren’tavailable for researchers. Conditions under which hybrid methods are useful,aren’t widely recognized.2
  3. 3. What is meant by methodological fitand why field research?Methodological fit is the internal consistency among 4elements of a research project.Field research studies real people, real problems in realorganizations by collecting original data.N.B.: Unexpected data collection opportunities may spurfield research then methodological fit is guided by thestate of the relevant theory.3
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  6. 6. How can researchers understandmethodological fit? Reviewing published papers allow researchers todetermine how manuscripts have been evaluated forhaving a good methodological fit. Developing a toolbox of methods relevant to answeringvarious types of research questions. Deconstructing exemplars as case studies forunderstanding tradeoffs in real research settings. Developing proposals and discussing them in groups forexperiential education.6
  7. 7.  Serendipity in field research, i.e., if data collected forone reason are used for another reason resulting a poormethodological fit .. Why!Because methodological fits complies with particularresearch questions/objectives guiding the initial inquiry.7
  8. 8. Theory continuum in managementresearch1. Mature theory: has well developed constructs andmodels studied over time with increasing precision by avariety of scholars which yields cumulative knowledge.2. Nascent theory: proposes tentative answers to novelresearch questions of how& why suggesting newconnections among various phenomena.3. Intermediate theory: provides provisional explanations ofphenomena introducing new constructs and proposingnew relationships between them and well establishedones.8
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  10. 10. Why conduct new field research formature theories? Topics related to mature theory rely on extensiveliterature to identify variables of underlying phenomena. New research refines field’s knowledge by discoveringmoderators and mediators affecting well establishedcausal relationships.Example: understating the organizational andpsychological dynamics that inhibit system’s change evenwith failing performance!10
  11. 11. When to use/ combine qualitative andquantitative methods in research projects? In a well established body of work, quantitative methodsare valuable. In a growing body of work, qualitative methods arevaluable. Mixed methods achieve the goal of increasing thevalidity of new measures through triangulation (a processthrough which the same phenomenon is assessed withdifferent methods to determine whether congruenceacross methods exists or not!).11
  12. 12. Similarities among theory studies12
  13. 13. Similarities among theory studies13
  14. 14. Similarities among theorystudies14
  15. 15. Mean tendencies and off-diagonalopportunities The 3 archetypes of theory situate along thediagonal representing a mean tendency. Off-diagonal opportunities exist when thestudy focus is reframed from broad to narrow“examining an area where theory isn’tmature”.(B) Represents an intersection of mature theoryand qualitative data .. Field research can belocated conceptually.(A) Represents an intersection of nascent theoryand quantitative data .. Difficult to justify!Off-diagonalpoints15
  16. 16.  Off-diagonal research opportunities exist when researchersopen a new area of inquiry within a familiar topic. The area below the diagonal presents creative opportunitiesfor theoretical contributions. The area above the diagonal won’t produce compelling fieldresearch. Research project may start in the upper-hand cornermigrating down to intermediate status after surprisingquantitative findings are obtained.16
  17. 17. Problems of poormethodological fit176
  18. 18. The fitting process Methodological fit occurs through a cyclic learning process“backward and forward”. Fitting is an iterative process involving continuous feedbackand modifications. Considerable time should be spent prior to data collection.FittingMature theory Nascent theoryConceptualization is early. Conceptualization is late.18
  19. 19. Contributions1. Provide a contingency framework which relates the stageof prior theory to research questions, datacollection, analysis, theoretical contributions in a mutuallyreinforcing manner.2. Help new field researchers to develop their ability to aligntheory and methods in field research.3. Help researchers identify opportunities for hybrid methods.4. Promote methodological fit as an iterative learningprocess in which feedback, rethinking and revising arevaluable activities.5. Methodological fit has roots in organizational research.19
  20. 20. Critique! There shouldn’t be mutually exclusive and exhaustivecategorization of the links between data and methodsbecause various combinations are mutually reinforcingand new insights can suggest the switch to othercombinations. They didn’t refer to other theoretical paradigms like thegrounded theory, mid-range theory research and theirmethodological fit. Statistical analysis of various types of data may satisfythe needs of the 3 archetypes of theories developed inthe suggested contingency framework.20

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