Doing Classic Grounded Theory Research in Information Systems: Trust in Emergence

Doing Classic Grounded Theory Research in Information Systems: Trust in Emergence

Titus Tossy (Mzumbe University, Tanzania), Irwin T.J. Brown (University of Cape Town, South Africa) and Andy Lowe (Grounded Theory Institute, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0539-6.ch011
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Abstract

Grounded Theory (GT) is a latent pattern recognition research method that was developed by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967). GT, which can use either quantitative or qualitative data, is a general research methodology and it produces empirically grounded but modifiable theory. Since the development of GT in 1967, some researchers have attempted to modify the original GT method, and remodelled GT approaches have been widely used in Information Systems (IS) research, often with unfortunate results due to disregard of the basic rules of the original GT. The continued use of remodelled GT methods has caused confusion and has prevented those in the IS research community from stimulating the development of new theory, which is the main benefit of using GT as it was originally outlined. Following publication of the original grounded theory by Glaser and Strauss (1967), Glaser (1978) went on to explain in detail how to operationalize the GT method. Despite this, some researchers mistakenly continued to classify GT as a subset of the qualitative data analysis research methodology. In doing so, they reveal that they have misunderstood both the purpose of GT and how to use it correctly. In this paper the author will concentrate on the authentic approach to GT, which is termed “Classic Ground Theory” (CGT), so as to differentiate it from any misconceived remodelled version of the theory. This paper explains how CGT can be carried out in an IS context by trusting in the emergence from the data of the required information, rather than forcing it.
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Clarification Of The Meaning Of The (Classic) Grounded Theory Research Methodology

Classic Grounded Theory methodology (CGTM) is faithful to the original formulation and follows all the original tenets of Grounded Theory as outlined by Glaser & Strauss (1967). The tenets have been further elaborated by Glaser (1978, 1992, 1998, 1999a, 1999b, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011). CGTM is a general inductive research method designed to reveal deep seated latent patterns of human behaviour and how the main concerns of respondents studied are being continually resolved (Glaser, 1998). CGT provides IS researchers with a means to build theory relevant to the discipline, as explained in Matavire and Brown (2011). Lyytinen and King (2004) state that building theory for any field would help strengthen it. In the IS discipline, opportunities exist to build theory in both emerging fields and well-researched ones, as outlined by Matavire and Brown (2011). As Glaser (1992) states, in domains where a large body of knowledge already exists, new concepts and categories may not emerge, but CGT will still contribute to a better understanding of the basic social processes at play. Many authors, however, refer to having used CGT in their studies, when in fact what they mean is that they have been influenced by the idea of a grounded theory without following all the procedures (Bryant, 2002). This paper helps to avoid incorrect use of CGT, and enables the IS researcher to use CGT with skill and confidence.

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