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Journal Article

The Search for Mechanisms in Business Research: Reflections on Retroductive Analysis in a Multilevel Critical Realist Case Study  pp17-27

Deepak Saxena

© Mar 2019 Volume 17 Issue 1, Editor: Ann Brown, pp1 - 54

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Many introductory research methods textbooks still divide the research paradigms into two broad approaches – positivist/quantitative/deductive and interpretive/qualitative/inductive. However, this bifurcation of research orientation does not do justice to the philosophical and methodological pluralism present within business research. This paper offers a third way by reflecting on a retroductive analysis in a critical realist case study. The philosophy of critical realism employs retroductive analysis to search for mechanisms underpinning the empirically observed events. Mechanism‑based theorising is a suggested way in the business research to develop middle‑range ‘sometimes true’ theories. This paper demonstrates the process of retroduction for the identification of mechanisms through an illustration of the data collection, coding and analysis process in a multilevel critical realist case study. In the process, it outlines the challenges faced and offers suggestions to overcome those challenges. This paper does not claim to provide a set of best practices for multilevel retroductive analysis. However, it is hoped that it sensitises business researchers to explore the critical realist perspective and to employ retroduction for mechanism‑based theorising.


Keywords: Critical Realism, mechanism, retroduction, multilevel, coding, analysis


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Journal Issue

Volume 17 Issue 1 / Mar 2019  pp1‑54

Editor: Ann Brown

View Contents Download PDF (free)

Keywords: participant carelessness, insufficient effort responding, careless responding, random responding, Critical Realism, mechanism, retroduction, multilevel, coding, analysis


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