شکوفایی خلاقیت و قدرت تخیل محققان در نظریه پردازی استوار: یک نمونه از تحقیقات IS
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|2255||2011||17 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Information and Organization, Volume 21, Issue 4, December 2011, Pages 177–193
Although interest in the use of grounded theory methods has been increasing over the last decade, Urquhart, Lehmann, and Myers (2010) take note of the criticism that, in fact, such use has not yet produced higher levels of theory development in IS research. Along these lines, the current essay intends to make two main contributions. The first is to respond to the recent call for more studies developing grounded theorizing in IS research by providing a detailed description of the application of grounded theory methods in an emergent research area that combines IS and sustainability. The second, to extend current interpretations of grounded theory's basic characteristics by focusing on one important element: researchers' creativity. We argue that the role of researchers' creativity and imagination in the implementation of grounded theory methods has rarely been emphasized and should be the subject of further reflection. Although imagination is, from our perspective, inherent and crucial to any cognitive or intellectual process, the fact of being frequently neglected in IS research precludes its mobilization as a more purposeful influence in the process of building new theories.
Although the connecting of data and theory lies at the heart of strategic research activities, theory building remains one of researchers' biggest challenges. Whatever methodological approach is used, there is always an untraceable step that relies on the researcher's insight and imagination (Weick, 1989). Making sense of and interpreting data is a creative process, for both writer and reader. Our work is inspired by Langley's (1999) paper in which she evokes three processes involved in theory building: induction, where data drives generalization; deduction, where theory drives hypothesis testing; and inspiration, where creativity and insight hold sway. This last process, inspiration, seems to be crucial in plausible and sound connection of empirical data, prior knowledge, experience, readings and imagination. Langley (1999) argues that theorizing may mobilize both inductive and deductive approaches, iteratively or simultaneously, guided by inspiration. Sensemaking being the objective, “let us make sense whatever way we can” (p. 18). Whenever inductive theorizing is under consideration, grounded theory inescapably enters into the discussion – sometimes approached as a methodology (Elmes et al., 2005, January and Jones and Noble, 2007), sometimes as a method (Fendt and Sachs, 2008, July and Lings and Lundell, 2005) or a set of coding techniques (Levina, 2005, June and Vaast and Levina, 2006, March-April). Indeed, while Strauss and Corbin (1990, p. 24) clearly define grounded theory as “a qualitative research method that uses a systematic set of procedures to develop an inductively derived grounded theory about a phenomenon”, Glaser (1992, p. 16) posits it as a “general methodology of analysis linked with data collection” that “uses a systematically applied set of methods to generate inductive theory about a substantive area”. When researchers refer to grounded theory as a methodology, they refer to a general philosophy of conducting inductive research. In this essay, we refer to grounded theory as a method, in line with Strauss and Corbin's definition of grounded theory as a set of techniques that guide the researcher in data collection and analysis (Elharidy, Nicholson, & Scapens, 2008). Such a method or set of techniques is designed to help researchers in producing innovative theories or explanations of a phenomenon in a delimited context. Applying grounded theory means developing theories that would explain a phenomenon in ways that have never been articulated before. However, the concept of creativity has not been explicitly addressed in the pioneers' work (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) or in latest versions of grounded theory (Corbin and Strauss, 2008 and Morse et al., 2008). We recognized one seminal concept of grounded theory that is inherently connected to creativity: theoretical sensitivity. Sensitivity is the “ability to pick up on subtle nuances and cues in the data that infer or point to meaning” (Corbin & Strauss, 2008 p.19). Theoretical sensitivity should enable the researcher to creatively develop innovative theories. A set of techniques has been proposed to increase the researcher's capacity for theoretical sensitivity (Clarke, 2005, Merlino and Martinez, 2007 and Scott, 2004, March) but, still, those techniques for sensitizing the research do not stand alone: they are subject to the imaginative process that researchers go through in order to make numerous choices during data analysis and interpretation. To what extent a researcher's choices do not transgress methodological principles yet, at the same time, are capable of seeing beyond data description towards innovative explanations is an important challenge for grounded theorists and remains a question meriting examination. Not surprisingly, grounded theory is considered a risky research venture (Suddaby, 2006). The risks of the delicate balance between objectivity and subjectivity are manifested in several ways: the unavoidable presence of preconceptions when analyzing data; the predisposition to avoid considering incoming data that would cast doubt on previous analysis; the forcing of data into established frameworks; working with “blinkers” when coding the data (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2000) and, most detrimental to inspiration, a blind adherence to a rigid method. Regarding this last “risk”, Urquhart (2007) notes that coping with a set of guidelines, as grounded theory authors often propose, does not imply confining the creativity of researchers: prescriptiveness might come to be at odds with the essentially creative and emergent nature of the grounded theory process. Grounded theory's procedures “were designed not to be followed dogmatically but rather to be used creatively and flexibly by researchers as they deem appropriate” (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, p. 13). While a number of IS researchers corroborate the importance of mobilizing prior knowledge in grounded theorizing (e.g., Boudreau and Robey, 2005, January-February and Mahnke et al., 2008, January), comparable importance has not been attributed to the role of IS researchers' insight, imagination or creativity. Our literature review of IS journals revealed an absence of this topic. We reviewed all grounded theory-related articles published between 1996 and 2011.4 We scrutinized those having the words “imagination” or “creativity” in the text. Two texts mention, respectively, creativity (Urquhart, 2007) and imaginative interpretation (Chakraborty, Sarker, & Sarker, 2010), but none had purposively engaged in discussion of the role of imagination or creativity in grounded or inductive theorizing in IS research. The same absence was identified by Weick (2006) in organizational research, noting that imagination has not been much of a concern among scholars who examine learning and knowledge. Although imagination is, from our perspective, inherent and crucial to any cognitive or intellectual process, the fact of being frequently neglected precludes its mobilization as a more purposeful influence in the process of building new theories. We argue that imagination and creativity play a large role in driving the researcher's choices during data analysis and interpretation and that the role of IS researchers' imagination in the implementation of grounded theory methods has rarely been emphasized and should be the subject of further reflection. The present essay addresses the issue of building innovative theories through grounded theorizing. Urquhart et al. (2010) observe that, despite increasing interest in the use of grounded theory methods over the last decade, such use has not yet produced higher levels of theory development in IS research. Therefore, the current essay intends to make two main contributions. The first is to respond to a recent call for more studies developing grounded theories in IS research (Urquhart et al., 2010) by providing a detailed description of and lessons learned from the application of grounded theory methods in an emergent research area that combines IS and sustainability. The second is to extend current IS interpretations of grounded theory's basic characteristics by including one important element: researchers' imagination. The essay is structured in five main sections. Following this introduction is a presentation of our ideas regarding the importance of more purposively addressing the role of researchers' imagination and creativity in grounded theorizing. We then describe in detail our application of grounded theory method, identifying the most important lessons learned in the form of suggestions and insights. Finally we present the discussion and concluding remarks.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In any type of empirical work, the researcher always faces difficult choices. In this article we have reported some of the choices we made in applying grounded theory. One of the significant choices we made concerned the adaptation of Pandit's (1996) step-by-step version of grounded theory. This adaptation was opportunistic, given the fact that, from the very beginning of our work, we could recognize outstanding firms that excel in sustainability practices in Brazil and from whom we believed we could learn about conditions facilitating or promoting the alignment of information planning and sustainability with organizational practices. Stake (2005) would term this an instrumental choice. Pandit (1996) did not recommend prior selection of cases, except for the first case. On the contrary, according to him, the selection of cases should occur as data collection and analysis evolved. We decided to make an adaptation of this criterion and we believe that the results are very positive, showing that the most important characteristic of grounded theory, and the one most worth preserving, lies in the systematic and iterative manner of overlapping data collection and analysis. In other words, grounded theory provides a well-structured frame, but allows space for some flexibility (Calloway and Knaap, 2005 and Strauss and Corbin, 1990). Researchers should use this space in creative fashion in order to improve the relevance of the theoretical framework they develop. One of the objectives of this article was to illustrate the potential of grounded theory as a research methodology for building models from the reality being investigated. The method allowed us to produce an original model emerging from the practices of Brazilian firms recognized for solid accomplishment in terms of sustainability. However, in line with the goal of most researchers, we believe the proposed model exhibits a precious attribute – plausibility – which increases its potential for external transferability. The experience of one of the authors in the North American business context suggests that the categories, properties and relationships proposed by the conceptual model are relevant not only to the Brazilian context but to firms located in other Occidental countries, in the Americas and Europe, which could also learn from it. Development of theory is a sensemaking process. We bring into discussion the importance of the researcher's background and imagination in making choices, particularly when the logic guiding the empirical work is of a purely inductive nature. In our field work, creativity and imagination played a less important role in the generation of sub-categories and a more important role in the establishment of relationships among them and in the creation of categories of a higher level of abstraction: from sub-categories to categories and from categories to blocks. There is no guarantee that systematic and iterative use of techniques like constant comparison will allow the researcher to “discover” (produce) a new theory. From our point of view, theory building is always an interpretive exercise, where researchers' subjectivity, background, creativity and imagination, even if disciplined, have an important influence on the nature and content of the theory being built. Likewise, readers' subjectivity and background will also play a role in accepting and legitimating a proposed new theory. Finally, this article seeks to provide evidence of the richness of combining induction, a bit of deduction and inspiration, as suggested by Langley (1999). Although mobilizing, in the first stages, an inductive logic for building the first draft of a new framework model, the grounded approach adopted here did not neglect existing literature, which is mobilized at two points: at the very beginning, to help better define the boundaries of the research question, and at the end of the data analysis, being integrated into the final step of constant comparison, in order to challenge and enrich the theoretical model being built. In addition, generous portions of inspiration are necessary in many situations of collection and analysis, where researchers decide which ideas will survive and which will be discarded in the explanation they are building, “discovering” from empirical data, but also from their experience, knowledge, preferences, creativity and, sometimes, even the lack thereof.