Scholars have called for diversity in methods and multi-method research to enhance relevance to practice. However, many of the calls have only gone so far as to suggest the use of multiple methods within the positivism paradigm, which dominates the discipline and may constrain the ability to develop middle-range theory and propose workable solutions to today’s supply chain challenges. The purpose of this paper is to present a rationale for expanding the methodological toolbox of the field to include interpretive research methods.
This research conceptually illustrates how positivist and interpretive philosophies translate into different research approaches by reviewing an extant positivist qualitative study that uses grounded theory and then detailing how an interpretive researcher would approach the same phenomenon using the hermeneutic method.
This research expands the boundaries and impact of the field by broadening the set of questions research can address. It contributes a detailed illustration of the interpretive research process, as well as applications for the interpretive approach in future research, particularly theory elaboration, middle-range theorizing, and emerging domains such as the farm-to-fork supply chain and the consumer-based supply chain.
The development of alternative ways of seeking knowledge enhances the potential for creativity, expansion, and progress in the field.
Practical implications of this research include enabling researchers to elaborate theory and develop middle-range theories through an alternative philosophical paradigm. This paradigm facilitates practical insights that are directly relevant to particular domains and move beyond general theories seeking generalizability.
Social implications of this research are much more indirect in nature. This research encourages supply chain management (SCM) scholars to look at phenomena (including those with social implications) from a different philosophical perspective, which can reveal new insights.
This research contributes a rationale for expanding the methodological toolbox of the field to include interpretive research methods and also contributes a methodological operationalization of the interpretive approach. By reflecting on the nature of science and method in SCM, the study opens the door for creativity and progress to expand the boundaries and impact of the field.
Darby, J.L., Fugate, B.S. and Murray, J.B. (2019), "Interpretive research: A complementary approach to seeking knowledge in supply chain management", The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 395-413. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLM-07-2018-0187
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