Bridging the chasm between survey and case study research: Research methods for achieving generalization, accuracy, and complexity
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This article describes how behavioral science research methods that management and marketing scholars apply in studying processes involving decisions and organizational outcomes relate to three principal research objectives: fulfilling generality of findings, achieving accuracy of process actions and outcomes, and capturing complexity of nuances and conditions. The article's unique contribution is in advocating and describing the possibilities of researchers replacing Thorngate's (1976) “postulate of commensurate complexity” – it is impossible for a theory of social behavior to be simultaneously general, accurate, and simple and as a result organizational theorists inevitably have to make tradeoffs in their theory development – with a new postulate of disproportionate achievement. This new postulate proposes the possibilities and advocates the building and testing of useful process models that achieve all three principal research objectives. Rather than assuming the stance that a researcher must make tradeoffs that permit achieving any two, but not all three, principal research objectives as Weick (1979) clock analogy shows, this article advocates embracing a property space (a three-dimensional box rather than a clock) view of research objectives and research methods. Tradeoffs need not be made; having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too is possible. The article includes a brief review of principal criticisms that case study researchers often express of surveys of respondents using fixed-point surveys. Likewise, the article reviews principal criticisms of case study research studies that researchers who favor the use of fixed-point surveys express.
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