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RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY From Positivism to Phenomenological: Where is your research placed?

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Title: RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY From Positivism to Phenomenological: Where is your research placed?


1
RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY From Positivism to
PhenomenologicalWhere is your research placed?
2
Objectives
  • The objectives of this lecture is to
  • Discuss and understand the different philosophies
    of research
  • Provide information to the researcher to motivate
    the approach taken in conducting the research
    project
  • Provide information on describing the research
    philosophy and methodology

3
Question
  • What does it mean to discover something?

4
Question
  • What does it mean to discover something?
  • What does it mean to invent something?

5
Question
  • What does it mean to discover something?
  • What does it mean to invent something?
  • What is research? A discovery or an invention?

6
What is Research?
  • The purpose of research is to discover something
    about the world

7
The Roots of Research (1)
  • Roots of research, as we know it, can be traced
    back to Bacon (1561) and Descartes (1596)
  • These roots founded research that is known as
    Positivistic research or Positivism
  • Positivism is known as the natural scientist
    approach to research
  • Why?

8
The Roots of Research (2)
  • Natural scientists (physicists, botanists,
    biologists, etc.) attempted to discover the laws
    of nature
  • Research mostly conducted by means of laboratory
    experiments
  • Natural science researchers are totally
    independent during research

9
The Roots of Research (3)
  • By the late nineteenth century social scientific
    research emerged and also used these positivistic
    approaches
  • Research also conducted mostly through
    experiments
  • The social science researcher act as an observer
    of an independent and pre-existing reality
  • Researcher should stay distant and not allow
    values and bias to distort their objective views

10
Philosophy
  • Different philosophers views led to different
    stances on research philosophies
  • The following two research philosophies/models
    are important to us
  • Positivism
  • Interpretivism

11
Positivism (1)
  • Positivistic research, whether natural or social
    science oriented, seeks facts
  • Results of positivistic research should be laws
  • factual
  • exact
  • precise
  • absolute

12
Positivism (2)
  • According to positivists, laws provide the basis
    for the explanation of some phenomenon, and to
    predict the occurrence of the phenomenon and
    therefore allow them to be controlled
  • If laws can be established between the variables,
    then rules can be deduced
  • Thus, natural and social worlds are bound by
    certain fixed laws in a sequence of cause and
    effect

13
Positivism (3)
  • Focus on the facts ignore everything else
  • Research is conducted
  • firstly by accepting given facts of the
    phenomenon/happening,
  • secondly by determining laws that govern the
    phenomenon and
  • finally by forecasting future phenomena according
    to these laws
  • Objectivity is required as far as possible
  • BUT, objectivity is much harder to achieve in
    social sciences than in natural sciences

14
Positivism (4)
  • There is a fundamental distinction between facts
    and values
  • Science deals with facts
  • Values not so well received in science
  • Positivism in social science led to empiricism
  • Empiricism - The practice of medicine that
    disregards scientific theory and relies solely on
    practical experience

15
Positivism (5)
  • Therefore, positivism is about facts /
    absoluteness / exactness / preciseness
  • Preferably total objectivity of researcher
  • Typically
  • Natural science, a hypothesis proven or not
    proven by experiments
  • Social science, a hypothesis proven or not proven
    through empirical analyses

16
Phenomenological (1)
  • Social scientists began to argue against
    positivism
  • Argument
  • physical sciences deal with objects that are
    exclusive / independent of human beings whereas
  • social sciences deal with actions and behaviour
    that are inclusive / part-of human beings

17
Phenomenological (2)
  • It is argued that interrelationship of the
    researcher and what is being researched is
    impossible to separate
  • A phenomenon is a perceived occurrence
  • Therefore, the phenomenological paradigm is
    concerned with understanding human behaviour from
    the researchers own frame of mind

18
Phenomenological (3)
  • Phenomenological view is that reality cannot be
    researched without being part of it
  • As the researcher forms part of reality (that
    being researched), subjectivity plays a role
  • This approach has to be more qualitative
  • Focus is on the meaning rather than the
    measurement of social phenomena

19
Interpretivism (1)
  • Interpretivism / phenomenology focuses on the
    world of meaning and methods of studying it
  • Interpretivism goes beyond facts to meaning
  • People, as living beings, have got meaning
    attached to it
  • Interpretivism relates to the interpretation of
    human and organizational behaviour

20
Interpretivism (2)
  • Therefore, interpretivism goes beyond the facts
    and study the meaning thereof
  • In positivism it is
  • true/false or
  • yes/no
  • In interpretivism it can be
  • between true and false or
  • partially yes,

21
Models Applied to Information Systems
  • IS is an interdisciplinary field of study
  • IS research can be classified as positivistic or
    interpretive

22
Models Applied to Information Systems
  • IS research is positivistic if it involves
  • Evidence of formal propositions
  • Quantifiable measures of variables
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Drawing of inferences about a phenomenon from a
    representative sample to a stated population

23
Models Applied to Information Systems
  • IS research is interpretive if
  • Researcher interacts with human subjects,
    changing the perceptions of both parties (thus,
    interpretation or meaning is attached to
    interaction)
  • Case studies or observation, for example, because
    some interpretation is attached to the interaction

24
Quantitative vs Qualitative
  • All IS research can be classified as either
  • Quantitative originally from natural sciences
  • Qualitativedeveloped in social sciences

25
Quantitative vs Qualitative
  • Examples of Quantitative
  • Survey methods
  • Laboratory experiments
  • Formal methods
  • Numerical methods (mathematical modelling)
  • Examples of Qualitative
  • Case studies
  • Interviews
  • Observation

26
Positivism vs Phenomenological
  • Positivism
    Phenomenological
  • Quantitative Qualitative
  • Objective Subjective
  • Scientific Humanistic
  • Experimentalist Interpretivist
  • Hypothesis testing Generating theory
  • Uses large samples Uses small samples
  • Data is highly specific and precise Data is rich
    and subjective
  • The location is artificial The location is
    natural
  • Generalises from sample to population
    Generalises from setting to another
  • Facts Values
  • True / false Likert scale (1 to 5)
  • Measurement Meaning

27
Positivism vs Phenomenological
  • Positivism
    Phenomenological

Your research
28
Positivism vs PhenomenologicalResearch Methods
  • Positivism
    Phenomenological
  • Questionnaires
    Case studies
  • Surveys
    Interviews

29
Research Philosophy in Social Research
  • Why studying Social Research?
  • Social involvement of people/communities
  • The development of an Information System is
    viewed as a social activity, combining social
    systems and technology to the benefit of the
    organization and society as a whole

30
Summary (1)
  • Natural sciences try to limit variables only to
    the one being researched
  • Social sciences must accept many variables that
    interact
  • Therefore, research in Natural Science can be
    more accurate than in Social Sciences

31
Summary (2)
  • Positivistic research
  • Total objectivity
  • Researcher does not influence the environment at
    all
  • Interpretivistic research
  • Subjective total objectivity cannot be
    guaranteed
  • Allows for personal interpretations

32
Summary (3)
Positivism predict and explain natural laws
Interpretivism understand social practices and relations
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