Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods

Incorporating Design Science Research and Critical Research into an Introductory Business Research Methods Course

Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods

Incorporating Design Science Research and Critical Research into an Introductory Business Research Methods Course

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

University courses teaching research methods are a key element in the development of a research community through developing its fledgling members' ability to conduct, interpret, critique and develop high quality research. In today's business research environment, a diverse range of research paradigms are available and used by researchers; these need to be understood and familiar to business researchers today. New members of the research community typically receive their initial grounding in an introductory research methods course. Such a course should cover the broad range of methods used for business research. Otherwise, fledgling members of our community would be significantly handicapped by not understanding the role or even the existence of other research paradigms or how they contribute to the improvement of business and our understanding of it.

Unfortunately, the introductory Business Research Methods courses taught at many universities and the textbook they use usually place heavy if not exclusive emphasis on positivist and interpretive research paradigms and methods. They typically emphasise quantitative and qualitative empirical research techniques for research to identify, describe, explain or evaluate existing business practices. However, research in applied disciplines, such as those in business (accounting, finance, marketing, etc.), has other relevant goals besides explanation or evaluation of extant phenomena. Such other goals are more adequately addressed by research paradigms other than (or in addition to) positivism and interpretivism as described below.

Another important goal of business research is the invention and development of new business practices, rather than simply examining existing ones. Such research is better supported by the Design Science Research (DSR) paradigm (Hevner et al, 2004; March & Smith, 1995), which has recently received extensive attention in the Information Systems (IS) discipline. The DSR paradigm emphasises the invention, design, and development of new technologies, techniques, and methods, yet still achieving research rigour. Venable (2010) has suggested that all business research disciplines could benefit from considering the DSR paradigm and the discussions about it in the IS discipline, particularly developments re. DSR methods, design theory, and DSR standards. Van Aken (2004, 2005, 2007) in particular has advocated its relevance to the Management discipline.

Still another important goal of (some areas of) business research is to examine goals of businesses (and other organisations) other than profit. Many organisations that benefit from business research are not businesses, but are government or not-for-profit organisations. Furthermore, many researchers within business are concerned with the relationship of business organisations to local communities and society. Other goals, such as those incorporated into the triple bottom line (i.e. achievement of social and environmental good), are also very relevant. Understanding how existing business practices impact upon people and communities, or development of new business practices as above that improve upon that impact, is much better supported by the Critical Research (CR) paradigm (Cecez-Kecmanovic et al, 2008; Stahl, 2008b; Myers and Klein, 2011).

An Introduction to Business Research Methods course would benefit significantly from incorporating the DSR and CR research paradigms into the course, in such a way that new business research students can get a more holistic perspective and see a broader range of legitimate research perspectives.

While Critical Research and Design Science Research both have a rich literature, no research has discussed how they can be taught or included in the introductory research methods curriculum. This paper motivates and addresses that gap, with a new framework and practical methods and suggestions. Unfortunately, space limitations prevent a full introduction to CR and DSR; those unfamiliar are referred to the papers cited in the brief introductions included below. …

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