Table of Contents
The Essence of Research Philosophy.
The Choice of Research Philosophy.
It is essentials for the researchers to define the research paradigms along with epistemology and ontology before developing research strategies. This is because, as Saunders et al. (2011) note, these parameters explain beliefs, perceptions, assumptions, nature of truth as well as reality. In another word, these research philosophical views influence the way of research undertaken from research design to research conclusion. Therefore, Saunders et al. (2011) suggested the researchers understand and discuss these philosophical factors before formulated and developing research strategies.
According to Saunders et al. (2011), research philosophy refers to the researchers’ beliefs regarding the approach through which data about phenomena are collected, analyzed, as well as used. Kvale (2016) stated that the research philosophy mainly focuses on epistemology. Epistemology is opposed to doxology. Epistemology is what is known to be true, and doxology is what is believed to be true (Bryman, 2015). Epistemology encompasses different types of philosophical approaches. Saunders et al. (2011) specified four different kinds of philosophical views that are interpretivism, realism, positivism, and pragmatism. A researcher needs to analyze and understand these philosophical views along with their implications on the research strategies and research outcome before starting the research work.
The Essence of Research Philosophy
Saunders et al. (2011) said research philosophy is essential in research works to deal with data sources, nature and knowledge development. The research philosophy supports the researchers in knowledge creation in research work through collecting primary and secondary data and answering the research questions. Then, Kvale (2016) said appropriate application of research philosophy assists the researcher to formulate assumptions and beliefs. In the following research onion model, the research philosophy is placed at the outer layer. This means this is the first issue a researcher must understand and apply in the research works before developing and using research strategies.
Diagram: philosophy in the ‘research onion Source: Saunders et al. (2011)
Kvale (2016) stated that every strategy and research process relies on assumptions and perceptions about data sources and the nature of knowledge. According to Denzin and Lincoln (2013), the philosophy of research work will reflect on the researcher’s essential assumptions and these assumptions ultimately support the researchers to formulate the research strategies on time. In general, research philosophy has many branches that include a wide range of disciplines (Bryman, 2015).
The Choice of Research Philosophy
According to Saunders et al. (2011), the use of particular research philosophy is mainly affected by practical implications. Important philosophical differences exist in research works. For example, philosophy focuses on a number of numbers and facts in analyzing the impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) on national GDP. Denzin and Lincoln (2013) said research philosophy affects qualitative study, for example, the study of leadership styles on staff motivation in organizations. Therefore, the choice of philosophy, mainly between positivism and interpretivism philosophy has lots of debates. However, in the latest research works the pragmatism and realism philosophies are also getting popularity along with positivism and interpretivism philosophies.
Saunders et al. (2011) stated that the positivist believes that reality and truth are always stable. Therefore, positivists observe and describe reality from an objective viewpoint. In this case, the researchers do not interfere with the phenomena that are being studied. As Denzin and Lincoln (2013) note, these philosophers believe the phenomena should be isolated, and the observation should be repeatable. In this case, the reality is manipulated with variation in a single independent variable to define regularities and to create a relationship between constituent components of the real world (Kvale, 2016). Positivism is also related to natural and physical sciences. However, there is a debate that positivism philosophy is entirely perfect for social sciences (Bryman, 2015). The positivists verify the phenomena through observation, experiments, and logical or mathematical proof (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2014). Positivists classify all the statements into three key groups: true, false, and meaningful. Positivists face challenges when they fail to define psychological, political, and cultural factors that existed between truth and observers (Bryman, 2015).
According to Saunders et al. (2011), the interpretivism philosophy focuses on subjective interpretation of reality as well as intervention in reality to understand the reality. Denzin and Lincoln (2013) said these philosophers interpret the phenomena in a natural environment with the acknowledgment that there is no way of avoiding those phenomena (Bryman, 2015). This philosopher believes that there are many realities to be interpreted, where these interpretations are part of scientific knowledge (Kvale, 2016). The interpretive researchers access reality through consciousness, instruments, shared meanings, and language. These philosophers used a naturalistic approach to data collection. For example, interviews and observations are popular methods of interpretivism philosophers. Denzin and Lincoln (2013) said this philosophy also uses secondary data research. This philosophy is suitable mainly in qualitative research, for example, issues of ethics, cross-cultural differences in businesses, and analyzes the factors that affect leadership (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2013).
Saunders et al. (2011) said the realism philosophers believe that truth is factually and simply correct. The realist acknowledges the truth factually by correcting things that are very destructive like knowledge to militarize a disease (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2014). Denzin and Lincoln (2013) argued that the realists work as pragmatists by using the truth of the world to develop their ideas and strategies regarding moral lives. In a word, the realism philosophers mainly focus on factual truth (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2013).
The pragmatist considers factually correct truth as the subservient to the useful truth (Kvale, 2016). A pragmatism philosopher works as a realist in many cases by using the useful truth as the factually correct one. However, as Bryman (2015) notes, this is essential, for example, in cases where the pragmatist may support religion in a way that the realism philosophers may not. In a word, the pragmatism philosopher mainly focuses on useful truth (Saunders et al., 2011).
Saunders et al. (2011) defined data collection methods related to each research philosophy in the following table:
The finding of this paper discloses that every researcher has different assumptions and views. This means the philosophical views of researchers are different from each other. These different philosophical views underpin the design, development and implementation of research strategies. Therefore, the experts suggest understanding and formulating the research philosophy before formulating the research strategies. In addition, a better understanding of research philosophy helps the researcher to clarify the research strategies. The suitable philosophy increases the validity of research strategies that ultimately increase the research reliability and validity. The appropriate use of philosophy also brings creativity to research strategies and research.