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Article
Publication date: 16 October 2017

Ivo de Loo and Alan Lowe

The starting point for this paper is that the researcher is intimately bound up in all aspects of the research process. This idea of what is a critical aspect of much…

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Abstract

Purpose

The starting point for this paper is that the researcher is intimately bound up in all aspects of the research process. This idea of what is a critical aspect of much interpretive methodology has been challenged by some proponents of the interpretive accounting research (IAR) project. The authors suggest that adopting some of the views expounded in the IAR project may lead to the accounting research community becoming isolated from other interpretive methodology inspired disciplines. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Currently popular views on IAR are informed by selective theoretical insights from interpretive sociology. The authors argue that these insights cannot provide a general frame with which to encapsulate accounting research that may be reasonably termed “interpretive.”

Findings

The authors’ reading of the literature suggests that the some of the IAR literature exhibits: a tendency to routinely make overly specific claims for what it is possible for interpretive research to achieve; the promotion of a somewhat reductionist view of what the bounds of interpretive research are. The authors suggest that these tendencies detract from the strengths of (adopting a broad view of) IAR.

Research limitations/implications

In expressing the authors’ concerns, the authors do not wish to make an exclusive argument for what IAR is and is not. This would not be in line with writing an interpretive paper. While the authors do not eschew the possibility of a limited building of knowledge by applying interpretive methodological stances neither do the authors see such activity as a central plank of interpretive research.

Practical implications

The authors believe that positivistic commentaries on qualitative enquiry should not be taken as exemplary of interpretive research (in accounting – or elsewhere). The authors feel that IAR needs to be more open to an array of subjectivist motivations, if it is to provide useful critique of the nature of day-to-day accounting practice.

Originality/value

The authors seek to go beyond the rather unhelpful debate about whether IAR should be seen to possess both objective and subjective elements. The authors argue that IAR suffers more from a lack of engagement and debate than it faces dangers from areas of interpretive methodology that adopt positions considered to be too subjectivist.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2011

Elizabeth Ben-Ishai

I explore Bevir’s approach to interpretive social science and its implications for his study of governance. I make two arguments: one methodological and one substantive…

Abstract

I explore Bevir’s approach to interpretive social science and its implications for his study of governance. I make two arguments: one methodological and one substantive. First, I argue that we should think of the philosophy of interpretive social science as necessarily tied to some chosen method of recovering knowledge, be it local or expert knowledge. Without such a recovery of knowledge, interpretive analysis of local reasoning is impossible. Second, I argue that the recovery of not only expert knowledge - Bevir's primary focus - but also the local knowledge of citizens who are affected by these reforms, ought to play a central role in our understanding of governance.

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International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1093-4537

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2011

Mark Bevir

I summarize my views on democratic governance before responding to critics. Governance arose partly from the impact of modernist social science on public policy and it…

Abstract

I summarize my views on democratic governance before responding to critics. Governance arose partly from the impact of modernist social science on public policy and it limits the space for democratic action. My preferred alternative is an interpretive social science inspiring more participatory and dialogic democratic practices. In defending these arguments, I concentrate on the nature of interpretive social science and its relation to democratic theory. I define interpretive social science in theoretical terms as based on recognition of the role of meanings in human life and the holistic and historical nature of meanings. This interpretive social science does not lead to any particular methods or topics, but it does rule out reified and deterministic appeals to structures. Democratic renewal depends on promoting interpretive social science, not institutional blueprints.

Details

International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior, vol. 14 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1093-4537

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Article
Publication date: 9 February 2010

T.K. Das and Rajesh Kumar

This paper aims to propose a framework for understanding interpartner sensemaking in cross‐national strategic alliances, and to discuss how to manage the problems arising…

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4067

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to propose a framework for understanding interpartner sensemaking in cross‐national strategic alliances, and to discuss how to manage the problems arising from the cultural differences and internal tensions that are inherent in such alliances.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper starts from the notion that interpartner sensemaking of the complexities of strategic alliances has important implications for the evolution of cross‐national alliances. The two fundamental interpretive frames that relate to sensemaking are described, that of sensemaking of chaos and that of sensemaking in chaos, and the paper examines how an appreciation of these interpretive frames enables one to better manage cultural differences and internal tensions that inevitably arise in cross‐national alliances.

Findings

The framework makes clear that the two types of interpartner sensemaking (“sensemaking of chaos” and “sensemaking in chaos”) need to be appreciated as interpretive frames that are present among the alliance managers to effectively interact and influence partner firms.

Research limitations/implications

As interpartner sensemaking occurs at all stages of alliance evolution, future research may seek to assess the impact of conflicting interpretive schemes: in the stages of formation, operation, and outcome; concerning issues of appropriation and coordination; and in learning processes.

Practical implications

Briefly, the two types of interpartner sensemaking call for different strategies for managing alliances. Alliance partners embedded in different national cultures rely on interpretive schemes to make sense of the conflicts, contradictions, and internal tensions that emerge in strategic alliances.

Originality/value

The paper responds to the need of managers with alliance responsibilities for a framework to help identify and exploit the most effective ways of accounting for the role of interpartner sensemaking in alliances for productive interactions and performance.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 48 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 9 April 2019

Jessica L. Darby, Brian S. Fugate and Jeff B. Murray

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…

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4268

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

The development of alternative ways of seeking knowledge enhances the potential for creativity, expansion, and progress in the field.

Practical implications

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

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

The International Journal of Logistics Management, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-4093

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Article
Publication date: 23 February 2018

Antonia Darder

The purpose of this paper is to explore the notion of decolonizing interpretive research in ways that respect and integrate the qualitative sensibilities of subaltern…

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1470

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the notion of decolonizing interpretive research in ways that respect and integrate the qualitative sensibilities of subaltern voices in the knowledge production of anti-colonial possibilities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws from the decolonizing and post-colonial theoretical tradition, with a specific reference to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s contribution to this analysis.

Findings

Through a critical discussion of decolonizing concerns tied to qualitative interpretive interrogations, the paper points to the key assumptions that support and reinforce the sensibilities of subaltern voices in efforts to move western research approaches toward anti-colonial possibilities. In the process, this discussion supports the emergence of an itinerant epistemological lens that opens the field to decolonizing inquiry.

Practical implications

Its practical implications are tied to discursive transformations, which can impact social and material transformations within the context of research and society.

Originality/value

Moreover, the paper provides an innovative rethinking of interpretive research, in an effort to extend the analysis of decolonizing methodology to the construction of subaltern inspired intellectual labor.

Details

Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1443-9883

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2011

Jane Broadbent and Jeffrey Unerman

One of the most important considerations in any research project is a compelling research question, the addressing of which will produce socially and/or economically…

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1016

Abstract

Purpose

One of the most important considerations in any research project is a compelling research question, the addressing of which will produce socially and/or economically relevant and beneficial insights based on high‐quality evidence. The purpose of this paper is to explain that each possible research question requires use of the particular research methods that will produce the high‐quality evidence relevant to that question, with the nature of the evidence and the methods required varying from research question to research question.

Design/methodology/approach

This discussion paper explores and explains the role and function of interpretive accounting research advocates its adoption.

Findings

As the research method needs to be suited to the research question, any restriction imposed on the credible research methods that are considered acceptable severely limits the ability of the accounting academy to serve the needs of society and the economy by addressing the broadest possible range of research questions. From this perspective it is vital for academics to recognize that both positivist/quantitative and interpretive/qualitative methods produce high‐quality credible research evidence.

Research limitations/implications

Any preconceptions within a nation's accounting academy over the unacceptability of either positivist or interpretive research will damage the health and relevance of that academy in the longer term.

Originality/value

The paper argues that both positivist and interpretivist research are needed, drawing on notions of subjectivity, objectivity and inter‐subjectivity in the context of the social construction of both accounting information and research data, and in the context of the socially constructing nature of research evidence.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 19 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1022-2529

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Article
Publication date: 7 August 2018

Muhammad Bilal Farooq

The study seeks to address the research question: “How can Gadamerian and Ricoeurian hermeneutics be operationalized in an interpretive accounting research project”? The…

Abstract

Purpose

The study seeks to address the research question: “How can Gadamerian and Ricoeurian hermeneutics be operationalized in an interpretive accounting research project”? The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to review the key hermeneutic concepts of philosophers Gadamer and Ricoeur; and second, to share insights from the researcher’s experience of applying Gadamerian and Ricoeurian hermeneutics to an interpretive accounting research project.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on the extant literature and the researcher’s own experience using hermeneutics theory in an interpretive accounting research project involving in-depth interviews with organisational managers.

Findings

The process of interpretation is described using the core concept of the hermeneutic circle where the reader and the text engage in dialogue. The readers’ pre-understandings play a key role in this dialogue and assist in drawing meaning from the text. However, it is necessary for the reader to adopt a critically reflexive approach remaining alert for both unproductive pre-understandings and hidden power structures and ideologies in the text being interpreted. Each reading of a text involves the completion of one cycle of the hermeneutic circle in which the reader transitions from pre-configuration to configuration and ultimately re-configuration concluding with the reader acquiring new horizons of understanding. The researcher’s experience of applying hermeneutic theory to an interpretive accounting research project are reflected on and nine lessons are offered.

Originality/value

These insights will prove valuable to interpretive researchers within the social sciences, including accounting and management studies, as well as those working in the natural sciences.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Article
Publication date: 6 March 2019

Nizar Mohammad Alsharari and Mohammed Al-Shboul

The purpose of this paper is to extend the knowledge claim of management accounting research using qualitative research methods, in particular, the interpretive case…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to extend the knowledge claim of management accounting research using qualitative research methods, in particular, the interpretive case study, and its evaluation using “convincingness” criteria demonstrating the textual authenticity, plausibility and criticality of case study findings.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative research in the management accounting field considers both context and function (Burchell et al., 1980). This study sets out the rationale for adopting qualitative methodologies such as interpretive case studies in which rich, contextual and detailed data were collected and analyzed (Miles and Huberman, 1994; Mason, 2002). Methodological issues related to research design, analysis and evaluation are discussed by drawing on frameworks of social science research design. The paper sets out the procedures of an interpretive case study essential to ensuring the procedural validity of research which can be evaluated more accurately using the criteria of “convincingness” rather than positivist measures of the reliability, validity of data and the generalization of results. Textual authenticity, plausibility and critical interpretation, and how these hallmarks of “convincingness” can reflect the procedural validity of accounting research are described.

Findings

Qualitative research strategies such as the interpretive case study, which consider the complex settings of accounting change and practice, are found to offer deep understandings and convincing explanations of accounting change. Affirming that accounting is firmly established as a social science, the paper finds that the authenticity, plausibility and criticality of research in this field.

Research limitations/implications

The relevance of qualitative research to contemporary accounting research is considered as an effective method to explicate theory and inform practice, which suggests that new measures to evaluate related research are required to develop the potential of selected qualitative research methodologies in accounting domains.

Originality/value

Qualitative research in management accounting focuses on the interpretation of meanings found in people and organizations that are subject to the influence of contextual variables. Human attributes underpin accounting conventions and change resulting from continuous technological and regulatory advances. This paper’s comprehensive account of interpretive case study research emphasizes the significance of evaluative criteria that relate, beyond reliability, to the richness of the text. This, thus, encourages and supports new and emerging researchers to seek qualitatively coherent and critical interpretations in management accounting research.

Details

Pacific Accounting Review, vol. 31 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0114-0582

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Article
Publication date: 6 June 2008

Ali M. Elharidy, Brian Nicholson and Robert W. Scapens

The aim of this paper is to assess and explain the role of grounded theory (GT) in interpretive management accounting research (IMAR) and seeks to answer the question: can…

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3689

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to assess and explain the role of grounded theory (GT) in interpretive management accounting research (IMAR) and seeks to answer the question: can interpretive researchers use GT? And if so, how?

Design/methodology/approach

This is a theoretical paper that attempts to investigate how researchers can use GT in relation to their ontological stance, methodological position and research methods.

Findings

The paper suggests that GT offers a balance between the expediency of the research findings, thereby allowing researchers freedom to interpret management accounting practices, and the development of rigorous theory from IMAR.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides an analysis of GT from an interpretive perspective and, clearly, there are other research perspectives which could have been discussed.

Practical implications

GT can be a powerful tool that researchers could use to collect and analyse empirical data. However, researchers need to align GT with the broader paradigm they adopt when researching social phenomena. The paper provides some general guidelines for IMARs who want to use GT in their research.

Originality/value

This paper shows that GT can offer interpretive researchers a way of balancing the need to develop theory, which is grounded in everyday practices, and the recognition that the research process is inherently subjective. However, it is argued that in interpretive research GT cannot provide a simple “recipe book” which, if followed rigorously, will result in a high‐quality research (i.e. valid, reliable and unbiased). Nevertheless, the guidelines provide a way for IMARs, who use GT to improve the quality of their research findings.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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