Informality in organization and research: a review and a proposal
The growing interest in informal and emergent features of organizations has accompanied changes in both the dominant forms of organization and prevailing academic views about how best to think about and research them. It is argued here that currently espoused dichotomous characterizations of both organizations and research approaches are over-simplified and misleading. A review of types of organization research is conducted and it is suggested that the relationship between theory and data collection provides a more detailed and illuminating taxonomy than a distinction between qualitative and quantitative research. Two major distinctions are proposed: (1) between theory driven and phenomenon driven research; (2) between descriptive and prescriptive theory. It is suggested that organization theory is properly prescriptive in nature. The place of informality in organization and management studies is explicated, drawing on insights from Wittgenstein and ethnomethodology (EM). A distinction is drawn between (1) the degree of formality in particular organizational settings; and (2) the necessarily informal foundations of formal organizational schemes and methods. Finally, the organization of research itself is addressed. A prescriptive theory (TFV) is suggested as a means of organizing and explaining the research process. This suggestion serves as both (1) a proposal for research management; and (2) an illustration of the relationship between theory and organization.
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Volume (Year): 27 (2009)
Issue (Month): 10 ()
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