Book review : Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes

Simpson, Barbara (2014) Book review : Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes. [Review] (

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One of the challenges that I encounter regularly in teaching research methods to postgraduate students is finding ways to help them develop a practical understanding of the differences between interpretive and positivist approaches to research. There seems to be an overwhelming tendency towards the simplistic, unitary association of qualitative methods with interpretivism, and quantitative methods with positivism, an error that is unfortunately often reproduced in methods texts. Courtesy of Burrell and Morgan's (1979) famous sociological paradigms, most students come to some critical appreciation of the ontological and epistemological differences between these two approaches to research, but what these differences imply in terms of research practice remains elusive. It is precisely this issue that Schwartz-Shea and Yanow tackle in this marvellous book, which in my view should be essential reading for every qualitative researcher working in the organisation and management domain, regardless of her/his philosophical spots. The book is the first in the Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods, for which Yanow and Schwartz-Shea are the series editors. The remaining four books in the series, each of which will address different issues of interpretive methodology and methods, are scheduled for publication between December 2013 and July 2014. The series builds on Yanow and Schwartz-Shea's (2006) earlier edited volume, reflecting the authors’ own teaching and research practices, and informed by many years of conversations within collegial networks. Peregrine Schwartz-Shea works in the area of political science, while Dvora Yanow's interests span public policy and organisation studies. Not surprisingly then, many of the rich illustrative examples that they offer come from policy settings, but their overall message nevertheless remains very relevant and accessible to scholars of organization and management.


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