January 23, 2022

Paradigms of Research

A paradigm is a particular way of viewing the world, a framework of assumptions that reflect a shared set of philosophic beliefs about the world that places guidelines and principles on how research should be conducted. The two major paradigms ate the positivist paradigm commonly known as positivism and the interpretivist or constructivist paradigm commonly known as interpretivism.

The scientific quantitative and the qualitative research method are used while conducting business and management research. The scientific quantitative research method reflects to positivist paradigm and the qualitative research method reflect the interpretivist paradigm.

Positivism believe that social sciences can and should use the same methods and approaches to study the social world as “natural” sciences such as biology and physics use to investigate the physical world. The approach of research would be much more quantitative.
We live in the context of a worldview, which influences our thinking and behavior and way of organizing our lives. But worldviews often go unnoticed, and we often fail to realize that the assumptions we carry about research are related to a particular worldviews or mental model. We need to uncover our worldviews and subject them to scrutiny. This is especially important for those doing research. As social researchers, we work within broader historical, social and theoretical contexts. These contexts serve as the bridge that supports positivism is a modernist worldview. It means the research conducted considering to the natural setting rather than perception and interpretation of the people is known as Positivism. Positivism is associated with quantitative research. It involves hypothesis testing to obtain objective truth. It is also used to predict what happen in the future. Researchers primarily rely on quantitative data to follow positivists’ approach. The main elements of the positivist paradigm include:

  • An objective world with universal laws and causality.
  • Value free contexts.
  • The use of precise and objective measures usually associated with quantitative data.
  • Researcher remain separate from the subjects.
  • Researcher is rigorous, linear and rigid, based on hypothesis testing.
  • Methods include experimental studies, re-analysis of secondary data, structured questionnaires and structured interviews.
  • The implication of scientific research method with deductive reasoning.

Interpretivists argue that in order to understand human action we need to see the world through the eyes of the actors doing the work. The approach of research would be much more qualitative. Interpretivism is associated with qualitative research. It is used to obtain an understanding of an individual perspective. Iterpretivists believe that people make own choices and is not connected to laws of science or nature. Research tends ot be done in greater detail and looked at culture and how people line their lives, unlike Positivist’s who tend to look at general overview, therefore has high validity because it is a true representation and is trustworthy. Interpretivists use interview and observation methods for research. Interpretivist proposes that there are multiple realities, not single realities of phenomena, and these realities can differ across time and place. Reality is socially constructed and interpreted by individuals who are influenced by there are different truths and realities. The main elements of interpretivist paradigm include:

  • A subjective world where people experience physical and social reality in different ways.
  • A socially constructed reality with subjective evaluation and meaningfulness of experience for the individual.
  • Researcher becomes fully involved with individual subjects.
  • Explicitly values.
  • Flexible research process which flows from the material provided by participants.
  • Methods include ethnography, participant observation, focus groups, and depth interview and generally inductive reasoning is used.

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