Aligning Paradigmatic Reality in Organizational Inquiry

Positivist adherents believe action to be either a form of advocacy or a form of subjectivity, either or both of which undermine the aim of objectivity (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).  With this definition in mind, it requires the researcher regard positivism and participatory study as mutually exclusive when discussing the call to action.  This based on the positivist view that including action in the research reduces validity, as opposed to participatory study which says that action is where the study derives its validity.  If action is not the responsibility of the researcher in positivist study, and action is crucial to validity in the participatory paradigm, it is clear that in order to ensure that validity of the research with respect to both approach and axiology, the participatory paradigm must remain with respect to the call to action as well, such that the interactions of the participants and confirming actions regarding exploring a solution can be assessed.

Paradigmatic formulations interact such that control becomes inextricably intertwined with mandates for objectivity (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).  Whether objectivity is determined as control residing solely in the researcher as in positivism, or where control is a more shared feature among participants as in participatory study dictates not only the level of control, but the application of control within the study.  Templates of truth and knowledge can be defined in a variety of ways – as the end product of rational processes, as the result of experimental sensing, as the result of empirical observation, and others (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).  With respect to the relationship of truth & knowledge in inquiry, positivism regarding these as foundational, whereas participatory study regards these as non-foundational.  More recently, truth and knowledge in research have been regarded as the empirical, and not without some human interaction.  Yet, as truth and knowledge become the foundation of what is perceived as in positivism, it leaves little room for interpretations of reality within participants in a collaborative or competing environment.

As participatory study regards truth and knowledge as non-foundational, these empirical or implied realities which dictate participant perception of their surrounding world are not the foundation on which the study is grounded.  Rather, as the axiology suggests, the values, beliefs, and spirituality of the participants in the shared environment become the collective reality.

With this definition in mind, from an axiological standpoint participatory study offers the most value, from a commensurability perspective these two paradigms are mutually exclusive, and from control, truth & knowledge, and overall efficacy of study; participatory study offers a higher value proposition in an environment where shared attributes and experiences are most emphasized throughout the research process.

– Justin

Coghlan, D. & Brannick, T. (2005). Doing action research in your own organization (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications,  Inc.

Denzin, N.K., & Lincoln, Y.S. (2005). The sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Herr, K. & Anderson, G.L. (2005). The action research dissertation: A guide for students & faculty. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications,  Inc.

Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.


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