Research Philosophies – Importance and Relevance Issue 1 (Jan’09)
Research Philosophies – Importance and Relevance
When undertaking research of this nature, it is important to consider different research paradigms and matters of ontology and epistemology. Since these parameters describe perceptions, beliefs, assumptions and the nature of reality and truth (knowledge of that reality), they can influence the way in which the research is undertaken, from design through to conclusions, and it is therefore important to understand and discuss these aspects in order that approaches congruent to the nature and aims of the particular inquiry are adopted, and to ensure that researcher biases are understood, exposed, and minimised. Whilst James and Vinnicombe (2002) caution that we all have inherent preferences that are likely to shape our research designs, Blaikie (2000) describes these aspects as part of a series of choices that the researcher must consider and he shows the alignment that must connect these choices back to the original Research Problem. If this is not achieved, methods incompatible with the researcher’s stance may be adopted, with the result that the final work will be undermined through lack of coherence. Blaikie (1993) argues that these aspects are highly relevant to Social Science since the humanistic element introduces a component of ‘free will’ that adds a complexity beyond that seen in the natural sciences and others, such as Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) draw attention to the fact that different paradigms ‘encourage researchers to study phenomena in different ways’, going on to describe a number of organisational phenomena from three different perspectives, thus highlighting how different kinds of knowledge may be derived through observing the same phenomena from different philosophical perspectives. As well as stimulating debate, Denzin and Lincoln (2003) and Kvale (1996) highlight how these different positions can result in much...