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Africa, the Informal Economy, and the Hermeneutic Circle

Advancing Research Methodology in the African Context: Techniques, Methods, and Designs

ISBN: 978-1-78441-490-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-489-4

ISSN: 1479-8387

Publication date: 26 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

We believe that management and strategy scholars should engage in research around the role of informal economic activity in the perpetuation of poverty on the African continent.

Design/methodology/approach

We argue that the study of informal economic activity, because of its explicit and often purposefully created hidden nature, requires a new method of inquiry and we propose that the practice of hermeneutics provides such a method. Our chapter describes the foundations of hermeneutic research and outlines key principles to guide inquiry.

Findings

We move from a rigorous introduction to the general method (a form of hermeneutic investigation) and its implementation in the narrative interview. The chapter concludes with a set of practical guidelines to help researchers employ narrative interviews to uncover collective memory structures and gain deeper insight and real understanding of the workings of informal economies.

Originality/value

We believe this chapter will motivate management and strategy scholars to examine the role of informal economic activity in the perpetuation of poverty in Africa and provide a starting point for developing the tools necessary to engage in research that creates a real and deep understanding of the contexts of poverty on the African continent.

Keywords

Citation

Madsen, G.C., Bednar, J.S. and Godfrey, P.C. (2014), "Africa, the Informal Economy, and the Hermeneutic Circle", Advancing Research Methodology in the African Context: Techniques, Methods, and Designs (Research Methodology in Strategy and Management, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 133-166. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-838720140000010007

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited