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Epistemological trends and methodological

Choosing the appropriate methodology
In examining the fundamental characteristics of the different epistemological trends and methodological
approaches used in management, you should consider the links with the wider objectives of a specific
research topic and how answers (or solutions to particular problems) could be provided within given
management research contexts.
� Examining similarities and differences in your evaluations of different research methodologies and
methods and their potential use in different contexts
� Debating the need for clear alignment between the research topic, question, and methodology/method,
and what this looks like in practice

Similarities and Differences of Various Research Methodologies and Methods and their

Potential use in different contexts


Surveys, case study and experimental methodologies are used in gathering data in various
contexts. For instance, while survey entails collecting information on a given variable from a
population sample, the experimental method is purely scientific; as such a factor being
investigated is isolated to help in testing the hypothesis. On the other hand, a case study is used
to investigate a phenomenon through various techniques to get detailed information (Saunders,
Lewis & Thornhill 2012). This is due to the fact that, it permits the researcher to identify a
phenomenon and comparing various cases.
Both surveys and experimental methodologies are associated with positivism. However,
Collins & Hussey, (2013) suggests that an experimental methodology shows casual connections
between variables. An experimental methodology, for example, can used to examine how
exercise-independent variable affects the students’ performance-dependent variable (Weber
2004). Unlike the experimental method, the survey method can be used to gather secondary and
primary information from a given sample and use the findings to generalize a population
(Venable 2011). This is contrary to the case study methodology that does not necessarily
generalize the whole population.
While experimental and survey methods are associated with positivism, a case study
methodology is related to positivism as well as interpretivists. Like a survey, the case study
method uses questionnaires, interviews and observations to collect primary information (García-
Unanue, Felipe & Gallardo 2014). It also collects secondary data from company databases while
the analysis can be qualitative, quantitative or mixed method. In the experimental method, data is
gathered by reading various experiments.
Much as the case study and experimental methods focus on a relatively small sample, the
survey technique uses a large sample to study a give problem (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill


2012). However, with a large sample size, the rate of response is usually low, particularly when
the survey is performed using questionnaires. The survey and case-study methodologies are
effective when a study is descriptive in nature. Conversely, the experimental approach is
appropriate for experimental research (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2012). In comparison to
experimental techniques, the survey and case study methods are time consuming.

The need for clear alignment between the research topic, question, and
methodology/method, and what this looks like in practice
Clear alignment in research is important because it helps the research remain focused on
achieving research objectives. In any given study, clear alignment starts with identifying a
research topic, research questions and methodology (Oyegoke 2011). The research topic and
research questions act as basis of the research project. Using a subject matter that is directly
associated with these aspects of research distracts a researcher from focusing on the issue that in
not being studied. Research questions direct the main inquiry of research project. That is the
objective of the study should address the research questions.
Clear alignment of research questions with the issue under investigation, helps a
researcher to concentrate on topic with clarity (Collis & Hussey 2013). When the methodology
aligns with research questions, there is a direct to the issue being explored. Moreover, it also
breaks down the study into a narrowed research topic easy for exploration. In reality, aligning,
the topic, research question and methodology makes a study not just clear but also straight
forward (Weber 2004).Understanding this important aspect is necessary is preventing needless
effort, redundancy and going off topic. Generally, aligning these important elements minimizes
challenges associated with writing a research project that does not respond not just to the
research questions but fails to realize the research objectives as well.


Collis, J. & Hussey, R. 2013, Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and
Postgraduate Students. 4th ed. London: Palgrave-MacMillan.


García-Unanue, J., Felipe, J.L. & Gallardo, L. 2014, ‘Using action research to achieve the
implementation of cost accounting: the case of the public sports organizations at local
level,’ Systemic Practice and Action Research, 28(2), pp.111-123.
Oyegoke, A. 2011, “The constructive research approach in project management research”,
International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 573-595.
Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. 2012, Research Methods for Business Students, 6th ed.
Pearson Learning Solutions.
Venable, J. 2011, “Incorporating Design Science Research and Critical Research into an
Introductory Business Research Methods Course”, Electronic Journal of Business Research
Methods, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 119-129.
Weber, R. 2004, ‘Editor’s comments: the rhetoric of positivism versus interpretivism: a personal
view’, MIS Quarterly, 28 (1), pp.iii-xii

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