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The Uses and Usefulness of Reflexive Accounts in Strategic Performance Management Research: The Case of UK Regulated Public Utilities.

By Vinh Sum Chau and Barry J. Witcher

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of reflexivity in ensuring quality in the conduct of qualitative organizational and management (especially case study based) strategic performance management research. It argues the importance of research reports to include a reflexive account of the comings and goings about the circumstances that may have impacted upon the research to justify its validity. A project on UK-regulated public utilities is used to illustrate the benefit of such an account and how it may be presented.\ud \ud Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on a two-year longitudinal research project, which used longitudinal case studies to examine the impact of regulatory policy incentives on the strategic management of UK monopoly network utilities, to present a developed approach for presenting reflexive accounts in qualitative research. It focuses on the longitudinal tracer methodology that allows a close examination of detailed yet holistic operational activities, which is particularly good for strategic performance management research.\ud \ud Findings – The paper suggests that the more explicit the reflexive appreciation during the conduct of the research, the better it satisfies the conditions of reliability and validity which are themselves well-known prerequisites for ensuring quality in qualitative research.\ud \ud Practical implications – Strategic performance management research is characterised by a need to examine closely detailed internal decision-making processes. Such an approach is supported by the emerging activity-based view of management, known as strategy-as-practice, that concerns understanding micro-activities of the organization. The provision of a reflexive account in research reports alerts the reader to these equivocal conditions under which the findings were derived.\ud \ud Originality/value – The paper concludes that an appreciation of the epistemological and ontological positions of the tracer methodology has an impact upon the way in which a reflexive account of organizational research should appropriately be presented. It suggests some potential issues to include in the presentation of reflexive accounts

Topics: H1
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1108/17410400910951017
OAI identifier: oai:kar.kent.ac.uk:25552
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