"The strengths of qualitative research methods lie in their usefulness for understanding the meaning and context of the phenomena studied, and the particular events and processes that make up these phenomena over time, in real-life, natural settings .When evaluating computer information systems, these contextual issues include social, cultural, organizational, and political concerns surrounding an information technology; the processes of information systems development, installation, and use (or lack of use); and how all these are conceptualized and perceived by the participants in the setting where the study is being conducted ."
(Bonnie Kaplan and Joseph A. Maxwell, p.31, 2005)
Kaplan, B. and J. Maxwell (2005). Qualitative Research Methods for Evaluating Computer Information Systems. Evaluating the Organizational Impact of Healthcare Information Systems. J. Anderson and C. Aydin. New York, Springer: 30-55.
"Hermeneutic theory is a member of the social subjectivist paradigm where meaning is inter-subjectively created, in contrast to the empirical universe of assumed scientific realism (Berthon et al. 2002). Other approaches within this paradigm are social phenomenology and ethnography. As part of the interpretative research family, hermeneutics focuses on the significance that an aspect of reality takes on for the people under study. Hermeneutics focuses on defining shared linguistic meaning for a representation or symbol.
In order to reach shared understanding as proposed in hermeneutic theory, subjects must have access to shared linguistic and interpretative resources (Marshall et al. 2001). However, hermeneutic theory also posits that linguistic meaning is likely open to infinite interpretation and reinterpretation due to the interpretative ambiguity coming from presuppositions, to the conditions of usage different from authorial intention, and to the evolution of words (Marshall et al. 2001).
Due to its interpretive nature, hermeneutics cannot be approached using a pre-determined set of criteria that is applied in a mechanical fashion (Klein et al. 1999). However, a meta-principal [sic], known as the hermeneutic circle, guides the hermeneutic approach where the process of understanding moves from parts of a whole to a global understanding of the whole and back to individual parts in an iterative manner (Klein et al. 1999). This meta-principal allows the development of a complex whole of shared meanings between subjects, or between researchers and their subjects (Klein et al. 1999).
Other co-existing principles that may help assure rigorous interpretive analysis involve: a) understanding the subject according to its social and historical context, b) assessing the historical social construction between the researcher and the subject, c) relating ideographic details to general theoretical concepts through abstraction and generalization, d) being sensitive to potential pre-conceptual theoretical contradictions between research design and actual findings, e) being aware of possible multiple interpretations among participants for a given sequence of events, and f) being conscious of potential biases or systematic distortions in the subject's narratives (Klein et al. 1999)."
(IS Theory, 15 November 2011, Information Systems PhD Preparation Program of the Marriott School of Management of Brigham Young University)
"Following Klein & Myers (1999), the foundation assumption for interpretive research is that knowledge is gained, or at least filtered, through social constructions such as language, consciousness, and shared meanings. In addition to the emphasis on the socially constructed nature of reality, interpretive research acknowledges the intimate relationship between the researcher and what is being explored, and the situational constraints shaping this process. In terms of methodology, interpretive research does not predefine dependent or independent variables, does not set out to test hypotheses, but aims to produce an understanding of the social context of the phenomenon and the process whereby the phenomenon influences and is influenced by the social context (Walsham, 1995)."
(Bruce H. Rowlands, 2005)
ISSN 1477-7029 81 ©Academic Conferences Ltd Reference this paper as: Rowlands B (2005) 'Grounded in Practice: Using Interpretive Research to Build Theory' The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methodology Volume 3 Issue 1, pp 81-92, available online at www.ejbrm.com
Klein, H., & Myers, M., (1999), 'A Set of Principals for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in Information Systems', MIS Quarterly, Vol 23, No 1, pp 67-94.
Walsham, G., (1995), 'Interpretive Case Studies in IS Research: Nature and Method', European Journal of Information Systems, Vol 4. No 2, pp.74-81.
"This paper provides guidance and an example for carrying out research using an interpretive framework to build theory of IS practice. The paper provides an example of (a) developing a theoretical framework, (b) how to choose an appropriate research method, (c) particulars of data collection and analysis, and (d) appropriate evaluative criteria applicable to interpretive research. The research example is a study of decision-making by owner-managers of small firms in the IT industry in Australia. The aim of the study (1) was directed toward exploring and describing the decision making process of owner/managers regarding their participation with on-the-job training schemes for the first time; and (2) to develop process theory explaining their participation. While structured as a typical research paper, this paper is different in that the focus is on describing the research process, conceptual issues and the research methods used rather than the findings. This format is important for two reasons: (1) unlike positivist research, there is no accepted general model for communicating interpretive research. (2) Similarly, few guidelines exist for conducting the inductive process central to interpretive research. Throughout the paper, issues relating to the choice and application of the methods in terms of conducting inductive research are discussed. Given the practical importance of interpretive research in information systems it is argued that documenting the decisions about the research process may be particularly valuable to researchers in the information systems community."
(Bruce H. Rowlands)
Rowlands B (2005) 'Grounded in Practice: Using Interpretive Research to Build Theory' The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methodology Volume 3 Issue 1, pp 81-92, available online at www.ejbrm.com
Download PDF from: http://www.ejbrm.com/issue/download.html?idArticle=152
"Interpretive methods of research start from the position that our knowledge of reality, including the domain of human action, is a social construction by human actors and that this applies equally to researchers. Thus there is no objective reality which can be discovered by researchers and replicated by others, in contrast to the assumptions of positivist science"
(Geoff Walsham, 1993)
Walsham, G. Interpreting Information Systems in Organizations, Wiley, Chichester, 1993.
[Approaches to research that are 'interpretive' sit in contrast to empirical-analytic approaches.]