West Meets East: Building Theoretical Bridges: Volume 8

Table of contents

(19 chapters)
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Welcome to the eighth volume of Research Methodology in Strategy and Management. The theme of this volume is West Meets East: Building Theoretical Bridges. It complements the seventh volume West Meets East: Toward Methodological Exchange. The two volumes together examine the relevance of Western theories and methods in the Eastern research context. In particular, this volume examines the key theoretical areas that strategic management research draws from to understand how managers can lead their companies to achieve competitive advantage in the increasingly globalised economy. We not only focus on the extent to which theories developed in the West can be applied in the understanding of business practice and performance in the East, but also explore methods for developing new insights and theories rooted in the Eastern business practice.

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Purpose – In this chapter we highlight the potential of critical and poststructural paradigms and associated qualitative research approaches for future research in strategy. In addition, we aim to contribute to the proliferation of applications of qualitative methodologies as well as to facilitate the diversity of qualitative inquiry approaches in the strategy field.

Methodology/Approach – Building on insights from standpoint theory, we discuss the importance and necessity of cultivating critical and poststructural paradigms in strategy. Furthermore, we review three related qualitative inquiry approaches (i.e., discourse analysis, deconstruction, and genealogy) and develop suggestions for their utilization in future strategy research on emerging market economies.

Findings – We highlight key concepts of critical and poststructural paradigms as well as of the selected approaches and provide a variety of examples relevant to strategy research to illustrate potential applications and analytic considerations.

Originality/Value of chapter – Critical and poststructural paradigms and related research methodologies are underutilized in strategy research; however, they are important contributions to paradigmatic and methodological diversity in the field generally and necessary approaches for developing our understanding of strategy phenomena in the context of emerging market economies specifically.

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Purpose – To advance narrative and context-based organizational research.

Approach – We detail how a research design can dynamically unfold and be adjusted based on feedback from multiple sources, with three components to this process: requisite conceptual openness, methodological adjustment, and acknowledgement of prescient issues. Three examples in existing literature are analyzed, demonstrating how this process can facilitate the development of novel lines of inquiry.

Research implications – Our framework and the practical guidelines we advocate here are a resource for scholars to allow new conceptualizations to blossom and grow in perhaps unexpected directions, which may not otherwise have been charted without this exploratory process.

Originality/Value – The process of discovery is a contribution toward research methodology and design, as a helpful method for maximizing richness in contextual research. This approach may be particularly important in emerging markets and other settings with unexplored organizational processes.

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Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to encourage strategy and management researchers to undertake research that captures the relational, unfolding and emergent processes of organizational life.

Methodology/Approach – The wayfinding method weaves concepts from traditional navigation with the wider body of strategy and management research literature. An illustrative case example is presented.

Findings – Six orientations informed by an Indigenous Māori research experience are presented under a trilogy of compass, conduct and contours. These orientations are dynamic dwelling, perceiving process, applying values, making connections, layering up, and expanding validity.

Practical implications – This study will aid researchers’ cultivation of greater methodological dexterity through insights that can assist with adopting a relational approach.

Social implications – The chapter shows how a holistic and relational mode of strategy and management research can help address the rising demand for more sustainable enterprises that create wealth and well-being.

Originality/Value – The chapter provides valuable insights from Indigenous wayfinding for strategy researchers and the organizations they work with.

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Purpose – The author introduces the Eastern philosophy of wisdom, especially its epistemology of Yin-Yang Balancing as the Eastern cognitive frame, to shed light on the debates over the distinction and integration between research and practice as well as between qualitative and quantitative methods so as to solve the problems of relevance-rigor gap as well as complexity-simplicity gap. The author also applies the frame of Yin-Yang Balancing to the development of a novel method of case study.

Methodology/Approach – This is a conceptual article.

Central theme – The Eastern philosophy of wisdom is better at an open-minded exploration of open-ended issues by emphasizing relevance and complexity, while the Western philosophy of science is better at a closed-minded exploitation of close-ended issues by emphasizing rigor and simplicity. A geocentric integration of both Eastern and Western philosophies is needed.

Research and practical implications – Management research is far behind the need for theoretical insights into practical solutions largely due to the increasing gaps between relevance and rigor as well as between complex problems and simple solutions. The root cause of the two gaps lies in the overreliance on the Western philosophy of science, so a new light can be found in the Eastern philosophy of wisdom, and the ultimate solution is a geocentric integration of Eastern and Western philosophies. A novel method of case study can be built by applying the Eastern philosophy.

Originality/Value – The author highlights the urgent needs for the Eastern philosophy of wisdom and its integration with the Western philosophy of science toward a geocentric meta-paradigm. As a specific application of the geocentric meta-paradigm, the author proposes a novel method of case study called Yin-Yang Method.

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Purpose – As a well-recognized qualitative research method, storytelling can help to explain the multilevel and dynamic perspectives in management studies. The authors purposefully chose sustainability stories in the Western context, leadership stories in the Eastern context, and entrepreneurship stories in the West-meets-East context to highlight the benefits of using storytelling in conducting strategy and management research.

Design/Method/Approach – Qualitative research, field research, and comparative analysis.

Findings – Looking through cultural and philosophical lenses, the authors argue that scholars need to pay attention to research contexts when applying storytelling in their fieldwork. Storytelling can help to unpack the contextual factors, especially to disclose dynamics and complexity issues of strategic management phenomena.

Research implications – While storytelling has been widely used in the Western management context, the authors believe we are among the first to suggest that storytelling can become an insightful and fruitful research method in Eastern management and in combined cultural contexts, and hence, they are attempting to potentially help to advance theory development.

Originality/Value – Two applicable conditions for storytelling are discussed, namely, the multilevel/systems perspective and the dynamic perspective, which are illustrated by sustainability, leadership, and entrepreneurship research in both Western and Eastern contexts.

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Purpose – To consider why, although it does maintain a distinct presence, ethnography still remains very much on the fringes of international business (IB) studies.

Methodology/Approach – This chapter involves a literature review comparing ethnography in IB studies with its position in the related disciplines of industrial relations and Japanese studies, in both of which the ethnography of business is much more prominent, and both of which have close relationships with mainstream anthropology.

Findings – The author argues that a crucial factor in achieving greater prominence for ethnography in IB studies is in fact to encourage more studies of international organisations in mainstream anthropology.

Research limitations/Implications – The review of literature is necessarily brief and should be expanded to include more disciplines to test its conclusions; however, developments in the anthropology of China and India may add further data.

Practical implications – There are a number of ways in which the three disciplines can learn from, and contribute to, each other through the medium of ethnography, which are discussed.

Originality/Value – The value of the chapter is in considering ways in which IB studies and industrial relations can learn from each other and can make more effective use of ethnography, and how mainstream anthropology can benefit from incorporating perspectives from business-focused disciplines.

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Purpose – The present chapter discusses how qualitative research can assist in rethinking and transcending the limitations of the notion of one-way knowledge transfer, which is still a dominant ontological paradigm of organizational learning in China.

Approach – The authors first present their critiques of the dominant knowledge transfer research paradigm. Then, using a recent case example, they illustrate how qualitative research, coupled with the alternative ontological paradigm of knowledge translation can provide context-sensitive insights into how cultural barriers and other knowledge boundaries can be crossed and how breakthroughs in knowledge transfer can be achieved.

Findings – Qualitative methods are highly appropriate for understanding complex social processes involving political and cross-cultural dynamics. They are ideal for gathering and making sense of the various perceptions, feelings, assumptions, aspirations, motives, and attributions that are held by members of different groups. They can track the sequence of key events and critical choices, and they can provide insights into the anatomy of social networks and power structures.

Originality/Value – The present chapter highlights the areas where qualitative designs can generate novel and fascinating insights regarding organizational learning in China. The authors argue that if researchers are interested in the diversity of conditions, in knowledge creation, and in the emergence of new practices within unique contexts, then they would be well advised to adopt qualitative designs.

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Purpose – This chapter aims to construct a scientific microworld to explain the management strategy of yang-ru yin-fa (Confucianism in public and Legalism in private) in Chinese organizations by an emic approach of indigenous psychology.

Design/Methodology/Approach – In consideration of the difficulties faced by either an imposed etic approach or a derived etic approach, this chapter advocates for an emic approach that argues that, in order to understand the specific features of organizational dynamics in China, it is necessary for us to construct an objective system of knowledge (epistemology) on the basis of Chinese cultural values (ontology), which can be examined by methods of social sciences (methodology).

Findings – Based on the theoretical model of Face and Favor, a conceptual scheme was proposed to highlight the contrast between Confucianism and Legalism in traditional as well as contemporary Chinese society. Findings of pervious empirical researches on two types of guanxi, along with two types of official and ethical leadership in Chinese organizations were reviewed to demonstrate the usage of yin/yang balance in strategic management.

Originality/Value – Taking the discourse of this chapter as an example, it is expected that the author's approach may initiate a scientific revolution against the Western paradigms of psychology that had been constructed on the presumption of individualism (Evenden & Sandstrom, 2011; Hwang, 2012).

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Purpose – Emerging work on returnee entrepreneurs has done little to examine how these individuals coordinate the resources they need to exploit their opportunities. Existing research has recognized the role of context, but this has been quite limited. The chapter provides a novel analytical framework that integrates a resource orchestration perspective with recognition of the heterogeneity of context.

Design/Methodology – The authors build upon returnee entrepreneurship, strategic entrepreneurship theory, and theories relating to context and spillovers to distinguish the implications of temporal, institutional, social, and spatial dimensions of context for resource selection and coordination.

Findings – The authors identify a range of research themes relating to each context. The authors also discuss methodological issues relating to both qualitative and quantitative research.

Originality/Value – The intention is to spur further entrepreneurship, strategy, and international business research.

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Purpose – This chapter examines the challenges in exploring, analysing and developing the concept of social capital, seen as the proclivity (or otherwise) of societies to engender stable structures for cooperativeness that support economic exchange and control. The authors focus on Asia and outline a theory of researchable social capital elements. Methodology is considered against the contexts of Asia. The authors emphasize the role of higher education as determinant, seeing it as crucial to the accumulation of human capital and often at the centre of many theories of societal progress.

Findings – The authors’ findings are that social capital is a contested concept that does not rest within a bed of widely adopted theory; researching it comparatively requires acknowledging societal meaning structures; there is emerging acceptance of complexity theory, evolutionary dynamics, and multi-disciplinary analysis; it is possible to disaggregate the concept into researchable issues; many research methods are available.

Implications – Modes of human cooperativeness are crucial for the understanding and comparison of economic systems. Implications are strong and pervasive for policy and practice. The authors find no evidence of a distinct indigenous ‘Asian’ perspective in research but much evidence of powerful contributions from Asian scholars working collaboratively with colleagues internationally.

Originality/Value – The chapter provides a helicopter perspective of an emerging field, notes conceptual challenges and gives practical guidance for researchers.

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Purpose – This chapter discusses the role that indices of corporate governance have had in comparative corporate governance research.

Design/Methodology/Approach – The authors begin with a short discussion of what corporate governance is and its main debates. Then, the authors review the main indices (which are also summarized in Table 1), highlighting their strengths and limitations as well as describing some of the findings that emanate from them. Then, the authors discuss the methodological and conceptual assumptions of corporate governance indices that may compromise their construct validity. The authors conclude with some encouraging suggestions for key methodological and research design issues to take into account in future comparative corporate governance.

Findings – Many methodological issues in the measuring and analysis of (comparative) corporate governance remain to be solved. First, although corporate governance practices have a direct effect on some of the firms’ strategic decisions, they may only have an indirect effect on firm performance. Second, it is possible that, after all, causality goes the other way around, i.e., the firm performance explains the adoption of certain governance practices. Third, there are also important challenges in measuring firm financial performance as well as measuring and comparing corporate governance effectiveness between firms from different governance settings.

Originality/Value – This is one of the first chapter to give an overview of the most current corporate governance indices, both academic and commercial, to discuss their underlying assumptions and limitations, and, finally, to provide specific directions for future research regarding comparative corporate governance.

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Purpose – To discuss how coevolutionary framework is useful to research emerging and evolving phenomena, such as global sourcing of business services, where West meets East.

Approach – The authors first introduce the phenomenon of global sourcing of business services and then review extant literature on coevolutionary research.

Findings – The authors discuss how global sourcing is a coevolutionary and multilevel phenomenon, which can be better understood by identifying micro and macro factors (task, firm, industry, and country), demand and supply (clients and service providers), technological and institutional factors (Information and Communication Technology (ICT), digitization, demographic trends, national and regional policies).

Research implications – The authors identify the main mechanisms, research questions, and methodological issues that underlie coevolutionary analysis.

Originality/Value – The main contribution of this chapter is twofold: provide a deeper and more nuanced understanding of global sourcing of business services, and assert that in coevolutionary research the role of mechanisms affecting a phenomenon may change over time.

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Purpose – This chapter aims to identify and address methodological issues inherent in business group studies, especially within the context of South Korean chaebols, many of which have been exalted as most remarkable cases of business groups.

Design/Methodology/Approach – After reviewing the theoretical background and the evolution of chaebols, the authors identify methodological issues focusing on the constructs of major interest to researchers, which need careful treatment for enhancing the internal and external validity of studies on business groups in general and chaebols in particular.

Findings – Any sample of business groups must be composed based on accurate definitions rather than conventional lists readily available, in accordance with the research purpose. Identifying and quantifying the strategic and structural characteristics of business groups should be accompanied by an understanding of the various types of economic organizations. The uniqueness of business groups in each country should also be considered, especially in conducting comparative analyses and generalizing research findings. Measuring performance needs more careful attention given the increasing complexity in many business groups. The embeddedness of business groups in a specific society as well as their coevolution with the institutional context urges researchers to employ more qualitative or ethnographic methods.

Originality/Value – The authors suggest alternatives through which we can cope with the methodological issues, and make suggestions for future research. As business groups continue to play a significant role in many emerging economies, continuing efforts to elaborate methods will contribute to improving the value of our scholarly work in both academic and practical dimensions.

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DOI
10.1108/S1479-8387(2012)8
Publication date
Book series
Research Methodology in Strategy and Management
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-028-4
Book series ISSN
1479-8387