The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods provides perspectives on topics relevant to research in the field of business and management
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Journal Article

The use of Grounded Theory and of ArenasSocial Worlds Theory in Discourse Studies: A Case Study on the Discursive Adaptation of Information Systems  pp105-116

Ana C. Vasconcelos

© Jul 2007 Volume 5 Issue 2, ECRM 2007, Editor: Ann Brown, pp37 - 124

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Abstract

This paper exemplifies the combined use of Grounded Theory and of the ArenasSocial Worlds Theory in a study of the discursive interaction amongst middle managers at a UK University administration and academic computing services. This study aimed at exploring the role of discursive interaction and negotiation in the organisational adaptation of information systems, by defining the premises upon which discourses were constructed and deployed on the basis of particular worldviews and how in turn they informed back different worldviews. It presents key lessons learned from this approach in relationship to the roles of codification, of relationships bewtween conceptual categories and between between theoretical influences and empirical work, as well as those emerging from the lived experience of research analysts.

 

Keywords: grounded theory, arenassocial worlds theory, discourse analysis, case study, information systems adaptation

 

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Journal Article

Research Methodologies and Professional Practice: Considerations and Practicalities  pp141-151

Caroline Cole, Steven Chase, Oliver Couch, Murray Clark

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

Professional doctorates have been established as key arenas for learning and research with the requirement for individuals to make both a contribution to management practise and academic knowledge. Many students on these programmes are drawn from the senior business world, for which the traditionally quantitatively focused business environment is familiar territory and, from which, we often see a natural tendency towards research that embraces the positivist approach that brings with it the familiarity of hard, measurable, results‑focused business disciplines. The insight into the academic world of ontology, epistemology and the different research approaches that form part of the learning arena of the professional doctorate provides an opportunity for students to consider the qualitative research alternative and the value of this in developing professional understanding and in making a contribution to knowledge, understanding and management praxis. This paper does not seek to critique the criteria for what constitutes “good” research or to argue against positivist research in the professional research arena per se. Our position is that critical reflexive thinking has a key part to play in research in both developing the student and in closing the loop between the approach taken to carry out the research, the research findings, the contribution to academic knowledge and how the research practically informs professional practice. Reflexive exploration we contend takes us beyond simple numerical objective measures and into the field of subjective understanding, which can be unsettling for the mindset of a traditionally positivistic organisation. It can be perceived as difficult and time consuming, and offering vague or conflicting outputs and we recognise that talk of subjectivity, bias and interpretation may seriously affect the acceptability of research in this tradition amongst business people and needs careful handling. The methodology must stand up to the scrutiny of both academic and management disciplines by producing results that both these disciplines accept and understand. The rewards, we suggest, of reflexive exploration, offer the opportunity of a privileged insight into workforce behaviours and motivations that are not often articulated and recognised in the business world. Within this paper we draw upon hermeneutics and critical discourse analysis highlighting the role of critical reflexivity to illustrate how these qualitative research methodologies can be used to bring the academic and business worlds together.

 

Keywords: critical reflexivity, hermeneutics, critical discourse analysis, qualitative research, research into professional practice

 

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Journal Article

The Long, Brown Path Before me’: Story Elicitation and Analysis in Identity Studies  pp96-106

Ali Rostron

© Nov 2014 Volume 12 Issue 2, ECRM 2014, Editor: Ann Brown, pp75 - 167

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Abstract

Abstract: This paper makes a renewed case for the value of the interview as a method for investigating the workplace identities of organisational actors. In particular it addresses interpretivist criticism that interviews merely tell us how the actor would like to be seen, rather than how they behave in practice. Adopting a narrative approach, the method combines story elicitation with analysis based on Levi‑Strauss' concept of mythical thought, in which stories are analysed to not only reveal individual self‑narratives but an underpinning social landscape constructed of selected oppositions within which the individual positions themselves. The paper illustrates the method and its potential by presenting the detailed analysis of one team leader's elicited story. It demonstrates how the method allows not only insight into the team leader's self‑identity but insight into ongoing processes of identity work, by revealing the social landscapes that they construct, the discursive resources they select, reject, challenge and struggle with, and how they position themselves in relation to those resources through narrative. The revealed social landscape and narrative positioning also generates new insight into the particular organisational position of the team leader and the tensions inherent in their position between staff and the organisation.

 

Keywords: Keywords: narrative, mythic thought, interviews, identity, discourse, managers

 

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Journal Article

Investigating the Social Beliefs that Attach to Indigenous Mining in New Caledonia  pp162-171

Peter Clutterbuck

© Oct 2018 Volume 16 Issue 3, Editor: Ann Brown, pp103 - 172

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Abstract

Nickel mining commenced in New Caledonia in 1868 and continues to be the major business activity of that region. Traditionally the mining sector has polarized New Caledonian society via a complex mix of economic, cultural and environmental issues. In 1999 the New Caledonian and French governments initiated a future‑focused program of “rééquilibrage” or rebalancing of opportunities for the New Caledonian indigenous Kanak people. “Rééquilibrage” aims to create a new identity for all New Caledonians – an identity that builds upon the multicultural mix of modern New Caledonia. A critical component of this rebalancing is the commencement of a major new world‑class nickel mining venture at Koniambo (in the Kanak Northern Province) in 2014 and this venture is majority Kanak owned and operated. The literature confirms that no published review of how New Caledonians view this venture has been completed since its opening. Such a review is important because New Caledonians must vote on 4/11/2018 on the issue of independence from France. Discourses are ways of representing the world – the processes, relations and structures of the social world, that is, the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of people. This research centres upon the contemporary social beliefs, i.e. the social discourses that circulate in relation to the Koniambo project. The investigation of these discourses must ensure that all stake‑holder voices are represented accurately, that the investigation is not simply a one‑dimensional “cost/benefit analysis”, and that the amplitude of the voice does not dictate its relative importance within the overall discourse ensemble. This research fits within sociology, and within this domain, the research uses the following empirical investigative approaches: actor‑network theory, historiography and critical discourse analysis (for core data analysis). Actor‑network theory facilitates the identification of stakeholder relationships within New Caledonian society, regardless of how subtle or transient the relationships may be. In this sense, actor‑network theory produces a maximised intersection of the Koniambo project across New Caledonian social life. Historiography provides the vital context that describes the social structures and social practices in which social beliefs are formed and constantly evolve. It is not possible to fully describe these beliefs unless we have a comprehensive, longitudinal appreciation of this overall context. Finally, critical discourse analysis is utilised to unpack fully the beliefs that are identified. Discourse analysis utilises the results from the historiography and actor‑network theory research components to unpack the expressed opinions and beliefs and even policies that link stakeholder entities. In this manner the project results will be most representative of the current discourses concerning a flagship project of “rééquilibrage”.

 

Keywords: New Caledonia, nickel mining, critical discourse analysis

 

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Journal Article

Discourse analysis and complex adaptive systems: Managing variables with attitudes  pp61-68

Charl Walters, Roy Williams

© Jul 2003 Volume 2 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 77

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Abstract

There have been long‑standing debates about the relative values of quantitative vs. qualitative research, and of positivism vs. critical theory in management studies. In this paper we discuss the value of discourse theory and the tools of discourse analysis in the context of complex adaptive systems theory, which can usefully be seen as a synthesis of the thesis of modernism and the antithesis of post‑modernism. Discourse' has been developed and used in several disciplines, to interesting effect. It is now time to systematise the notion of discourse, and the tools of discourse analysis, both theoretically and practically, so that they can better be applied to management research, and to management practice.

 

Keywords: Discourse, modernism, post-modernism, complex adaptive systems, communities of practice

 

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Journal Article

White Researcher‑Black Subjects: Exploring the Challenges of Researching the Marginalised and 'Invisible'  pp77-84

Gisela Schulte Agyeman

© Sep 2008 Volume 6 Issue 1, ECRM 2008, Editor: Ann Brown, pp1 - 94

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Abstract

How to access the life world of the Other without mis‑representing it, has long been a concern in a number of research traditions, including disability, feminist and black research traditions. Feminist debates have addressed issues such as whether researchers can only speak on behalf of their own social groups or whether there is legitimacy in speaking on behalf of the Other. Justification for this often arises from the fact that dis‑empowered groups may not have access to a public forum where they can be heard, so that social researchers see their role as 'giving a voice' to those who would otherwise not be heard. By contrast, other researchers see commonalities with their respondents as a particular strength. The paper focuses on theoretical perspectives which provided the framework in a study of the lived experiences and expressed views of second‑generation female young people of African and Caribbean heritage in predominantly white community and school settings. It examines some of the theoretical as well as personal considerations of a white female researcher and educational practitioner whose personal position and interests had to be negotiated within the research process. The paper highlights some of the difficulties, dilemmas and challenges of a white researcher attempting to access the lived realities of ethnic minority children whose lives are 'invisible' in dominant discourses. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from the feminist, black and disability literature, the paper explores the implications for researching 'sensitive' topics in organisational contexts from the perspective of an outsider 'looking in' and argues for a conscious 'positioning' of the researcher who may or may not be part of the lifeworld of individuals or groups being researched.

 

Keywords: Lifeworld, marginalised individuals, 'invisible', dominant discourses, black white perspectives

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 5 Issue 2, ECRM 2007 / Jul 2007  pp37‑124

Editor: Ann Brown

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Editorial

The 5th European Conference on Research Methods in Business and Management attracted a wide range of papers. The conference fell naturally into a number of key themes organized into mini tracks. These included a number of different methods (Action research, Grounded Theory, Ethnography), specific issues (Teaching Research Methods) and philosophical paradigms (Critical approaches to research). A strong sub theme within all tracks was the concern with the complex problems that business and management research poses. The quality of the papers was high and the selection of those papers for the Journal presented a difficult choice. The papers selected were chosen for their quality of writing and relevance to the Journal’s objective of publishing papers that offer new insights or practical help in the application of research methods in business research.

The papers deal with the problems facing management researchers in a variety of ways. Most papers focus on the problems of applying research qualitative methods. The papers by Chester et al, Gehrels, Rodon and Pastor, and Vasconcelos all present case examples analysed from an interpretivist view using methods like Action Research and Grounded Theory Methods. Several papers confront the ambiguity and conflict inherent in researching people and their actions as they carry out their jobs (Mendy, Wagner and Brooke). The teaching research mini track was received with particular enthusiasm and one of the chosen papers is from this group (Sayce). A few papers adopt a traditional positivist stance creating new constructs (Schutz et al; Phillips and Phillips).

 

Keywords: action diagrams, arenas/social worlds theory, assessment, case study, coding paradigm, compliance, critical research, deep learning, discourse analysis, driving powers, epistemology, grounded theory, grounded theory, hospitality management curricula, ICT security, information systems adaptation, international students, inter-organizational IS implementation, language, learning, methodological dilemmas, mini-viva, organizational misbehaviour, performance assessment, performance constructs, print-catalogs, public transit, research methods, stakeholder, Straussian approach, theory and practice, transit performance, upper segment restaurants, usability scale implementation, value systems, verbal protocols

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 6 Issue 1, ECRM 2008 / Sep 2008  pp1‑94

Editor: Ann Brown

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Editorial

The 7th European Conference on Research Methods in Business and Management attracted a wide range of papers. The conference fell naturally into a number of key themes organized into mini tracks. These included a number of different methods (Action Research, Grounded Theory, Mixed Methods), specific issues (Teaching Research Methods, Information Systems Research) and philosophical issues (the role of Paradigms). The quality of the papers was particularly high and the selection from those papers for the Journal presented a difficult choice. The papers selected were chosen for their quality of writing, their relevance to the Journal’s objective of publishing papers that offer new insights or practical help in the application of research methods in business research and to represent as many of the major themes of the conference as possible.

The papers dealt with the problems facing management researchers in a variety of ways. The majority of the papers focused on the problems of applying a variety of techniques – some through the discussion of theoretical issues, others by case examples. The technique of mixed methods was discussed at the conference for the first time and two papers have been chosen to represent this theme – both of which describe case examples using the tool (Branka Krivokapic‑Skoko and Grant O'Neill, Barbara Crump and Keri Logan). This technique combines both qualitative and quantitative tools. Two papers have been chosen for their contribution towards improving our understanding of quantitative analysis tools (Daire Hooper, Joseph Coughlan and Michael R. Mullen; Elisa Chami‑Castaldi, Nina Reynolds and James Wallace). One of the tracks was on ‘researching sensitive issues’. For most contributors this meant an exploration of ethical issues for researchers or the complexity inherent in researching the life world of people as they carry out their jobs. One paper stood out from this track (Gisela Schulte‑Agyeman) for its insight and practical advice when researching such topics. Grounded Theory and the challenge of coaxing meaning from the vast mass of qualitative data that this approach creates, was a major issue for several tracks. Three papers discuss this approach to qualitative research (Svetla Georgieva, Teresa Waring and David Wainwright, Linda Dawson). The track on teaching research methods attracted several papers and one was chosen from this group (Martin Rich). The paper by Peter Bednar and Christine Welch, revisited the important topic of paradigm choice and its impact on research methods.

 

Keywords: action diagrams, arenas/social worlds theory, assessment, case study, coding paradigm, compliance, critical research, deep learning, discourse analysis, driving powers, epistemology, grounded theory, grounded theory, hospitality management curricula, ICT security, information systems adaptation, international students, inter-organizational IS implementation, language, learning, methodological dilemmas, mini-viva, organizational misbehaviour, performance assessment, performance constructs, print-catalogs, public transit, research methods, stakeholder, Straussian approach, theory and practice, transit performance, upper segment restaurants, usability scale implementation, value systems, verbal protocols

 

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