In the field of management research, there are a lot of discussions concerning the research methods. Undoubtedly there is a number of different views and positions, which both researchers and practicing managers take as the ways of management research running. Going by the literature, available in the field, one can see that majority of debates is concentrated on more or less specific topics. The examining of these stances and issues proves a valuable activity for familiarizing oneself with the current state of the relevant area, as it helps a researcher to develop or refine his/her own viewpoints about research methodology.
One of the greatest debates, going on between the members of this research community, is reconciliation between qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Being the reflections of completely different ontological systems, the debate between quantitative and qualitative research methodologies is inherently complicated. However, some of the authors have claimed that the combination of both methodologies within a research project may be beneficial and provide high quality results. The issues that have mostly come into play are the validity and credibility. Even with the quantitative research, sometimes it is difficult to assess those ones, at least because of inconsistent terminology for existing evaluation methods.
With its qualitative research, it becomes even more complicated, as the triangulation can hardly be employed. There have been attempts, however, to bridge the gap between these two approaches. The article “Building better theory by bridging the quantitative – qualitative divide” proposes a set of steps a researcher can do to assure the rigor of qualitative research. The authors argue that the instances of combining quantitative and qualitative research methodology have increased without any damage to the study. One needs to understand different ontological and epistemological backgrounds of these approaches in such cases (Shah & Corley 2006). On account of drastically different approaches to the research question, it has become difficult for the representatives of quantitative approach to find common ground with the qualitative practitioners and vice versa.
Another issue that is evident in the literature reviewed is the problem of marketing in the research. More specifically, the study often struggles because it is difficult to achieve both rigor and relevance. Examining studies, published in the highly respected management journals for a period of 1980s and 1990s, Scandura & Williams made an observation that there had been a trend of sacrificing rigor in favor of relevance in the field of management research (Scandura & Williams 2000). There has been a considerable amount of discussions as to whether scientific management research can be applied by the practicing managers in their everyday work or it is just a theoretical body of knowledge, completely devoid of practical application. As one of the perspectives, Gibson and Morhman suggest in their article “Doing research that is useful to practice: a model and empirical exploration” that the research question should be approached by both the researchers and the members of the organizations where the research is done. While doing the research they should be able to accept each others’ perspectives and respect the interest of each group. The authors describe ten companies, where such research was conducted, and claim that this sort of cooperation yields the results that are both of high quality and relevance (Mohrman, Gibson & Mohrman 2001).
On the other hand, the opposing view is supported by other researchers. For instance, Kieser & Leiner claim that the gap between rigor and relevance in the management research cannot be overcome. They approach the question from a system theory, and argue that academic management researches and management practice belong to different systems, as it is with religion and geology, (Kiener & Leiser 2009). They discuss it because, judging by the above, the research cannot be done collaboratively by academics and practicing managers. For them, either rigor or relevance should be prioritized.
There are both advantages and disadvantages in all the discussed approaches to management research. Some researchers, who claim that academic research and practical management are different systems and cannot be mixed up, have some strong points. It is logical to assume that everyday management practice has some distinctive features, which are different from management research. After all, academic research has its own aims that should not be sacrificed in order to comply with the fashion in the modern research field.
Another issue discussed is a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. There can be observed some positive effects. Qualitative research is thoroughly equipped with the ability to build new theories. It may be less quantifiable and more obscure at the same time. On the other hand, quantitative approach provides a good platform for theory testing, while it is poorer at constructing the theories. That is why there can be considerable benefits, drawn from the wise combination of these methodologies.
It is clear that the groups of different interest assess academic research in a different way. A theoretical study for pure academics is the best manifestation of the research activity. It is important to build new theories to advance the general knowledge in the field. Unfortunately, other stakeholders, such as business organizations, investors, or politicians, often do not value this kind of research. They usually need applicable theories and quantifiable data that can yield visible results within a relatively short period of time. That is why research questions, as well as methodological approaches, are chosen and studied, depending on the current trends, or the sources of funding.