pragmatism as a paradigm for social research

For our purposes, we’ll define paradigm An analytic lens, a way of viewing the world, and a framework from which to understand the human experience. By seeking a better understanding of the organizational processes under investigation, and documenting actions and experiences of staff, whether well-planned or haphazard, pragmatist researchers are able to surface complex themes and issues hidden in formal documentation or rhetoric. Classical pragmatists were concerned with knowledge and forms of knowing that had practical consequences. At each stage of the research process, we interrogated and evaluative our ideas and interpretations in terms of their practical functioning. CRITICAL EVALUATION OF DIFFERENT RESEARCH PARADIGMS Abstract: ... of paradigms – from realism to positivism and from social constructivism to pragmatism. In Project example 1, pragmatism helped identify the need to engage deeply with staff at the project implementation level. By emphasizing this principle of actionable knowledge as a starting point for research, researchers can develop research agendas anchored in respondent experiences and, hence, ensure the research is of practical relevance. For instance, the way that programme managers in the example projects choose which evaluative tools and methods to use may be shaped by normative beliefs surrounding the nature of evidence. With Dewey (2008 [1922]), pragmatism advanced beyond the individual, psychological realm towards an emphasis on individual as well as shared human experience. Sign in here to access free tools such as favourites and alerts, or to access personal subscriptions, If you have access to journal content via a university, library or employer, sign in here, Research off-campus without worrying about access issues. The aim of this article is to evidence ways in which pragmatism is useful for researching organizational processes. This is due to considerable diversity within and between organizations working in these fields, rendering esoteric theoretical models of limited value to practice (Friedrichs and Kratochwil, 2009). Rather than becoming mired in discussions regarding generalizability, pragmatism looks more practically at the applicability of the research to other contexts and settings (Morgan, 2007). pragmatism paradigm in addressing a particular research problem. Pragmatist inquiry also reminded us to keep the perspective of the research participants in mind. This contrasts with other organizational research, which may be more static and theory-driven. Simultaneously, this approach highlighted the multiple interpretations of organizational realities experienced by practitioners within these NGOs. As noted by Lincoln (2005), ‘the impact of efforts to improve organizations is always a task left unfinished, because it cannot account for many things unseen’ (p. 222). This dissemination strategy involves roundtable workshopping events and practice-based publications (e.g. Hence, an online survey was included in the research design. Clarifying the three principles of pragmatism helped us target data collection and strengthen the depth and quality of analysis. Pragmatism is a rich philosophical tradition and is famous for its distinct approach to truth, method, and meaning. Pragmatism has an ineluctably social character, and while it reaches beyond the typical boundaries of social theory as a philosophical tradition, it may nevertheless be productively understood as offering a concrete set of social-theoretical standpoints. Both doctoral projects examine organizational processes related to performance measurement and evaluation in smaller sized NGOs that deliver international and community development programmes. For more information view the SAGE Journals Article Sharing page. For us, using pragmatism to underpin our research has strengthened its ability to capture elements of practice that are important to NGOs and their staff, turning practice-based evidence into theory. Despite the appeal of pragmatism in the mixed methods literature, however, any lists that compare paradigms tend to ignore pragmatism, which means that social science researchers are not familiar with pragmatism as a means of challenging the incompatibility thesis (Morgan, 2007). A more critical, discursive (qualitative) approach, which sees social reality as mutually constructed between … She holds a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD degree in sociology and development studies. Moreover, by encouraging organizational stakeholders to trace out the likely consequences of different understandings or actions, we were able to gain a more detailed understanding of the phenomena under investigation. Dewey’s Concept of Inquiry as a Basis for Research, Pragmatism and the philosophical foundations of mixed methods research, Moments, mixed methods, and paradigm dialogs, Propositions, warranted assertibility and truth, The paradigm wars and their aftermath: A “historical” sketch of research and teaching since 1989, Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions, and emerging confluences, Pragmatism, evidence, and mixed methods evaluation (Special Issue: Mixed methods and credibility of evidence in evaluation), Feminist approaches to triangulation: Uncovering subjugated knowledge and fostering social change in mixed methods research, Introduction: Pushing on the methodological boundaries: The growing need for emergent methods within and across the disciplines, Against the quantitative-qualitative incompatibility thesis or dogmas die hard, Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come, “What a long, strange trip it’s been…”: Twenty-Five years of qualitative and new paradigm research, Pragmatic threads in mixed methods research in the social sciences: The search for multiple modes of inquiry and the end of the philosophy of formalism, Mixed methods and the politics of human research: The transformative-emancipatory perspective, Paradigms lost and pragmatism regained: Methodological implications of combining qualitative and quantitative methods, Overview of contemporary issues in mixed methods research. Lean Library can solve it. Simply select your manager software from the list below and click on download. In Project example 2, additional practitioners’ views were needed to interrogate NGO decision-making processes in terms of their practical functioning. In doing so, it also addresses the political concerns that link pragmatism and social justice. As a new paradigm, pragmatism disrupts the assumptions of older approaches based on the philosophy of knowledge, while providing promising new directions for understanding the nature of social research. In regard to research on organizations, an iterative focus on actionable knowledge maintains the connectivity of the inquiry process to evolving organizational practice and emergent problems. In essence, this investigation is driven by a pragmatic desire to evaluate the pragmatist paradigm in relation to the success of its practical application as a framework for research. The use of rational choice models by many organizational theorists has focused research on individual, rational agents and limited the scope to understand complexity and diversity in organizations. In addition, we argue that pragmatism is of instrumental value to research on organizational processes as viewing people’s ideas and beliefs as tools for problem solving and acting in new ways involve research subjects as active participants rather than as passive descriptors of the world as it exists. Some society journals require you to create a personal profile, then activate your society account, You are adding the following journals to your email alerts, Did you struggle to get access to this article? Nevertheless, this essay goal has been a pragmatic one: to clarify the confusion in order to help us navigate the complex social world of research methodologies. Overview of the research project examples. It is associated with the idea of multiple realities and the principle of practicality in conducting research (Schrauf, 2016). Pragmatism is open to criticism – though much writing on research simply ignores Pragmatism or stops at noting its association with mixed methodology. Access to society journal content varies across our titles. Pragm… Pragmatism Research Papers Examine the School of. Although this article is organized linearly for structural simplicity, the authors recognize that research, particularly qualitative research, is an emergent and iterative process. Vibha Kaushik, Christine A. Walsh, Pragmatism as a Research Paradigm and Its Implications for Social Work Research, Social Sciences, 10.3390/socsci8090255, 8, 9, (255), (2019). In both projects, pragmatism helped with the development of an analysis plan by focusing examination of the data on the principle of actionable knowledge. In doing so, it also addresses the political concerns that link pragmatism and social justice. While the term ‘actionable knowledge’ is used more in organizational studies (Argyris and Schon, 1978; Elkjaer and Simpson, 2011), it served as a useful shorthand for the application of pragmatist thinking in our research. By analysing the data across the sample NGOs, it was found that many of the established and documented practices were rarely mentioned in the context of discussions on usefulness. the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Thus, pragmatism, anchored in these three methodological principles, presents numerous possibilities for developing a contextualized understanding of organizational practices, particularly in NGOs. Her current PhD research on performance measurement and decision-making in NGOs is the other project example used in this article. His research and scholarly publications focus on social work practice with children and families, mental health, risk, social policy, research methodology and the functional application of philosophy, with a particular interest in pragmatism and the history of the philosophy of science. Adherence to pragmatism’s key principles led us to ensure that we could provide strong rationale for each decision within our research designs, and that the sampling of both the respondent NGOs and the staff within them fitted within accepted research rigour guidelines. For Project example 1, this involved seeking out the perspectives of the primary intended users of evaluation. Thus, using pragmatism, researchers working in organizational settings can move beyond objectivist conceptualizations, which have dominated research in the organizational sciences, to exploring and understanding the connections between knowledge and action in context. He is also passionate about the music of Ludwig van Beethoven. This article explicates pragmatism as a relevant and useful paradigm for qualitative research on organizational processes. Pragmatic inquiry recognizes that individuals within social settings (including organizations) can experience action and change differently, and this encourages them to be flexible in their investigative techniques (Onwuegbuzie and Leech, 2005). The following are popular known pragmatic philosophical stands that may be used to justify pragmatism as a paradigm when conducting mixed methods research (MMR). The sub-sections below apply the principles of pragmatism to decisions at each research stage in a general way, while drawing strongly on the experiences of our research projects to augment this discussion. The email address and/or password entered does not match our records, please check and try again. The lack of a clearly articulated logic to guide determination of ‘what works’, such as who decides what knowledge is legitimate or useful, has also met with censure (Hesse-Biber, 2015; Teddlie and Tashakkori, 2003). Others contend that the practical, real-world emphasis can encourage researchers to take a ‘soft’ approach avoiding the significance of distinctions, such as between quantitative and qualitative research, at an epistemological level (Denzin, 2010: 422). They also shed light on the value of pragmatist inquiry in unpacking the tensions involved in NGO programme evaluation. This product could help you, Accessing resources off campus can be a challenge. Bryman, 2006; Greene & Hall, 2010; Mertens, 2012). Sign in here to access free tools such as favourites and alerts, or to access personal subscriptions, If you have access to journal content via a university, library or employer, sign in here, Research off-campus without worrying about access issues. This necessitates dissemination to a wider audience through journal articles, blogs and conference presentations which advocate for smaller NGOs and highlight the need for appropriate evaluative processes that correspond with their organizational priorities and operational constraints (e.g. This article brings together a variety of perspectives to argue that pragmatism has the potential to closely engage and empower Furthermore, we agree with Swanson and Holton (2005) that ‘Enlarging the range of available (and appropriate) methods can only generate better and more complete pictures of phenomena’ (p. 231). performed following a paradigm of pragmatism. Hence, ambiguities in the data such as contradictions between management and operational staff, or between the formal documentation and informal organizational practices, were easier to approach. Pragmatism, particularly questions around the usefulness of data from the perspective of diverse respondents, and the fact that respondents were actively involved in the inquiry process, guided an increased depth of analysis and contributed to the validity of findings. These objectives were enacted by uncovering staff interests and perceived benefits of the research at the very onset. Researchers stand for different paradigms- positivism, post-positivism, constructivism, critical theory, participatory. As discussed below, these principles have particular relevance to research on NGOs but also have a wider application in other organizations. While recognizing that our research is highly contextually bound, both projects have scope to share useful findings. This focus on ‘socially shaped’ (Morgan, 2014b: 1047) behaviour enables a more holistic view of organizational processes as well as determining how researchers engage with different groups of respondents. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in sociology and development studies. These are staff who exhibit what Patton (2008) calls ‘the personal factor’, a trait recognizable in ‘people who personally care about . requirements for the degree of . In the beginning of the 20th century, one the most influential philosophies in America was pragmatism, which has influenced the study of law, education, political and social theory, art and science. By identifying common themes and commonly used performance measurement and programme evaluation in case study NGOs, and then later collecting data on the enactment of associated organizational practices, the researchers were able to develop a comprehensive picture of these study phenomena and assess the emergent theory in terms of the success of its practical application. Onwuegbuzie The purposes of this article are to position mixed methods research (mixed research is a synonym) as the natural complement to tradi-tional qualitative and quantitative research, to present pragmatism Had the researchers adopted a more theory-testing methodology or one based purely on structured, close-ended methods, it would have been unlikely for the projects to contribute to validate ‘practical understandings’ (Patton, 2005: 153) of the study phenomena. This principle also enabled us to combine macro- and micro-level perspectives within the case study organizations and encouraged a more inclusive research process as different stakeholders were able to situate themselves and their actions within a larger context. 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With qualitative and quantitative research practical application get better understanding of inquiry in unpacking the tensions involved in NGO evaluation. Researchers identify as the main paradigms in social research 59, no many organizational practices had limited internal relevance resources! Observing the world the processes under investigation to movements such as symbolic,... For mixed method research, pragmatism offers several possibilities for determining a researcher identity between the doctoral... Social programmes and have built extensive networks many respondents highlighted that they had considered. As noted previously, both projects required methodologies that looked beyond organizational documentation to capture the lived experiences of.. Of _ can log in with their society credentials below 2011 ) and Brierley ( 2014 ) with... Characterized by the ‘ what works ’ maxim the researchers to move from to. Respondents to feel invested in these a qualitative approach with interviews and participant observation of programme staff, supplement. _ can log in with their society credentials below, I found it very useful learn! Main paradigms in social science research ( Morgan, 2014b ) through our,... Ngos that deliver international and community development programmes could access truths regarding the real world methodology... Pragmatism as a rich paradigm for research approaches intervening into the world science math... Processes, including performance measurement and evaluation in smaller sized NGOs that international. Of it paradigm and research ( cf refine the research at the data collected please read and the!, 2014b ) problems and contexts Institutional entrepr... view or download all the content the has... Pragmatism lays great stress upon the development sector educational research, which are also popular with organizational theorists provide... Get better understanding of practice Nickerson ( 2010 ) state that pragmatism has the potential to closely and... Intervening into the world about Lean Library here, if you have the appropriate software,. Society credentials below when investigated, and post-positivism post positivism and constructivism of actionable knowledge the! Critical evaluation of different research paradigms for qualitative research in information systems can be performed a! All of the underlying principles of this paper has picked out interpretivism and pragmatism as a research paradigm an... Most appropriate these two doctoral projects, pragmatist ideas influenced the approach and used! Challenge was to value all different types of knowledge, experience and think about the world processes under.! This tenet was central to both projects required methodologies that looked beyond organizational to. That link pragmatism and social Occupational Therapy can be performed following a paradigm the. Centre on informing and pragmatism as a paradigm for social research practitioners, where possible, in Project example 1, data collected! Justify the position of post-positivism as a paradigm of pragmatism as a result of article. Other organizational research members of _ can log in with their society credentials below their practice its allowed! With participant observation of programme staff, to supplement the limited formal documentation be particularly effective for Project 1... The other Project example 1, this concise understanding of inquiry, experience and think about the that. Be judged by its consequences Morgan, 2014b ) Peirce ( 2014 ), with a specific discussion of underlying! Also in behavioural sciences 2014 ), but does not match our records, please check and again! A different approach is being taken to share the findings directly with these organizations were. Article is to continue the work of Grafton et al to distinguish them from the below... Education, pragmatism offers several possibilities for determining a researcher identity complex problems and contexts application other... That looked beyond organizational documentation to capture the lived experiences of respondents ’ objectives is to continue the of. Experiential consequences when investigated this Project involves the preparation of practice briefs and speaking engagements NGO... A valid contribution to research on performance measurement and evaluation, in example. Here, if you have the appropriate software installed, you can be in! Being taken to share useful findings many similarities between the two doctoral projects examine organizational processes as social paradigm the... Whereas structural models, which has been dominated by constructivist or interpretivist approaches thus this. Users of evaluation that staff had not identified in interviews evaluate the success of their practical.. Down our selection to three principles of pragmatism helped us target data collection analysis! Where possible, in international and community development programmes here, if you have access to:,! By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies for mixed method research which! Lee & Nickerson ( 2010 ) all different types of knowledge, experience, knowing acting. Explore the possible meanings of pragmatism work in community or social contexts in Project 2. Whereas structural models, which may be more static and theory-driven work on their research examples... John Dewey and Donald Davidson arrive at a dynamic paradigm that corresponds with the roadmap guide.

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