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Abstract Purpose Much of the contemporary methodological literature tends to be self-referential and frequently ignorant of the breadth and depth of philosophical assumptions underpinning various methodological positions. Please note you might not have access to this content.

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Contact us. To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button. Then, it will illustrate how quantitative and qualitative methods can be combined. Finally, three examples, of different studies from the human resources field, will highlight the importance of each methodology in social sciences. Quantitative Research Social sciences are generally dominated by the objective scientific method Hughes, , which is associated with the positivistic paradigm.

Albeit, Burns argued the objectivity of the quantitative research because the researcher is subjectively involved in the choice of the problem, and the analysis and interpretation of the results. Quantitative research is more likely to be used with a deductive approach Saunders et al.


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It is based on examining relationships between variables, where data is collected in numeric form and analysed using different statistical tools. Nevertheless, there is an emphasis on the significant importance of the possibility to utilize a relatively large-scale of data. Moreover, the statistical techniques used in this method will help in sophisticated analysis and understanding of patterns.

The Qualitative-Quantitative Distinction in the Social Sciences

Several criteria determine the validity of quantitative research in relation to social inquiry. Bryman et al. The first key area measures the reliability of the results. If the same experiment repeated on different occasion or by another researcher, they should have the same results.

Otherwise the relevant findings might not be valid Hammersley, The third area is considered to be the most important element because it is necessary to apply a physical or statistical control in order to provide clear answers about the causes of a certain effect Burns, However, it is difficult to control all the variables due to the complexity of human experience. On the other hand, the research could produce trivial findings in case the researcher imposes an additional unneeded control on the variables. Saunders and Burns emphasized the importance of clear meaning and communication within the questions of the survey or structured interview or any other quantitative strategy, in order to eliminate any confusion.

However, Payne et al.

The Qualitative-Quantitative Distinction in the Social Sciences | History and Sociology of Science

It has been used to make sense of the subjective experience of the individual within a natural settings Saunders et al. Therefore, qualitative approaches consider that the individual consciousness create the social reality Burns, Also, it usually uses an inductive approach to develop a new or advanced theory about the phenomenon being studied.

The complexity and unpredictability of human beings and social issues might be better interpreted with an interactive process, where the individuals are able to teach the researcher about their lives Hughes, Moreover, being inside the field and building rapport with the participants, the researcher may highlight other issues that are missed by positivistic inquiries Burns, Because, referring to Hammersley , the research is not only about producing knowledge but should also be used to improve the world.

In other meaning, the qualitative research may pour the flesh and blood to social science Burns, Therefore, qualitative descriptions may highlight possible relationships and dynamic processes. However, the results of qualitative research are more likely restricted in single context due to the subjective nature of the data.

So, conventional standards of reliability, replicability and generalisation might not be applied to this type of strategies. In addition, researcher may affect and be affected by the subjects of study.

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This effect, and sometimes bias, could be avoided by identifying and elucidating the viewpoints of both Hughes, The time in all stages of qualitative research starting with the data collection, then the analysis and the interpretation is lengthy. Narrow because of the philosophical assumptions role in the choice of the research methodology, and problematic because many business research designs are likely to combine the elements of two methodologies Saunders et al.

Many commentators believed that it is inappropriate to combine the two methods being two different paradigms in the same field, and according to Kuhn , cited in Bryman, , they should be incompatible. However, many scholars define different ways through which researcher may use a multiple methods in his research. Multiple methods has been categorised mainly into two methods: 1 multi method associated to using more than one data collection techniques and analysis procedures but from either quantitative or qualitative design, and 2 mixed method where both quantitative and qualitative methods are combined in the research design in a variety of ways Tashakkori and Teddlie, Moreover, the results of one research design can be checked against the results from another design in a triangulation process.

Punch has mentioned eleven ways of combining the quantitative and qualitative research.

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Nevertheless, the last three decades have witnessed a forward march in the mixed methods in the business and management research, and Bryman refers this to the fact that mixed-methods overcome the weaknesses associated with employing only one method. Researchers need to prove the relevance of their research and the validity of the results based upon philosophical matters. On the other hand, employers may prefer the formulised results and give more attention for quantitative evidence. However, quantitative as well as qualitative research can be designed and implemented in a well or poor manner Scott, Considering the strengths and weaknesses of each method, social sciences might not confuse the poor research design and banal consequences with the inherent weaknesses of the method.

In this section, different examples from human resources field will be discussed to confirm that each methodology has its place even in the same area of social science. Scott argued that quantitative researchers define the socially constructed meanings in measures. Back Institutional Login Please choose from an option shown below.

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