Research Philosophy and Strategy

Research Philosophy and Strategy

Josephine Wapakabulo Thomas (Rolls-Royce, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-832-1.ch004
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Abstract

Chapter 2 highlighted both the critical need for data-exchange standards and the current limit of empirical research in the adoption of information technology standards and more specifically data-exchange standards such as STEP. These two issues were key motivations for this research. Therefore, to achieve the aims of this research, a qualitative approach was used to support the exploratory and descriptive nature of the research. This chapter discusses the justifications for the overall research philosophy and approach subscribed to, and the multiple data collection and data analysis activities used to collect sufficient data to answer the study’s research questions.
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Introduction

This research focuses on the development and uptake of data-exchange standards in order to gain an understanding of how such standards are adopted and diffuse across their target population. Hence, case studies and action research are used to fulfill the aims of the research, which are to:

  • Establish the factors and barriers that influence the adoption of data-exchange standards

  • Develop guidelines to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of data-exchange standards

Chapter 2 highlighted both the critical need for data-exchange standards and the current limit of empirical research in the adoption of information technology standards and more specifically data-exchange standards such as STEP. These two issues were key motivations for this research. Therefore, to achieve the aims of this research, a qualitative approach was used to support the exploratory and descriptive nature of the research. This chapter discusses the justifications for the overall research philosophy and approach subscribed to, and the multiple data collection and data analysis activities used to collect sufficient data to answer the study’s research questions.

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Research Philosophy

Data-exchange standards are not adopted in isolation, they are implemented and used as part of an information system. The terms information system (IS) and information technology (IT) are commonly used interchangeably. However, it is important to distinguish that IS is a much wider term; as well as technology, it encompasses the social organizational structure, culture, intellect, and philosophy related to the distribution of information through the organization, whilst for IT the emphasis is only technology (Orlikowski & Bardoudi, 1991; Walsham, 1993; Themistocleous, 2002). Therefore, information systems are multi-disciplinary with different aspects relating to natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, linguistics and behavioural sciences, so there is no single framework that encompasses all the domains of knowledge needed for the study of information systems (Galliers, 1992). Nonetheless, Myers (1997) stresses that all research is based on some underlying assumptions about what constitutes valid research and which research methods are appropriate. Orlikowski and Bardoudi (1991) claim that information systems are rooted in a single theoretical perspective, but there is a wide range of philosophical assumptions regarding the underlying nature of a phenomenon under investigation. The various philosophies of research available are encompassed by the terms epistemology (what is known to be true) as opposed to doxology (what is believed to be true). Galliers (1992) therefore reflects that the purpose of science is the process of transforming things believed into things known: doxa to episteme. Several philosophical approaches are available for IS research including: positivist, critical and interpretive (Orlikowski & Baroudi, 1991). However, the main two approaches used in IS research are positivism and interpretivism.

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