Aligning process questions, perspectives, and explanations

Van de Ven, Andrew and Sminia, Harry; Schultz, Majken and Maguire, Steve and Langley, Ann and Tsoukas, Haridimos, eds. (2012) Aligning process questions, perspectives, and explanations. In: Constructing identity in and around organizations. Perspectives on Process Organization Studies . Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 306-319. ISBN 9780199640997

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Abstract

This essay describes different kinds of research questions, process perspectives, and types of explanations to argue pragmatically that the quality and coherence of process research will be enhanced when these ingredients of process research are aligned. A distinction is made between questions about process past (what has happened?), process present (what is going on?), process future (where are we going?), and process action (what should we do?); which are then associated respectively with the historical reconstruction, becoming/ emergent, unfolding, and developing/control process perspectives. Each of these research questions requires a specific and distinct type of explanation, in terms of a unique sequence of events, a key event, a generalizable pattern of events, or a social mechanism. A hierarchy of logical relationships between questions and explanations is discussed, leading to implications for management research as well as manage- ment practice.