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Designing mixed-method research inspired by a critical realism philosophy: a tale from the field of IS innovation

By Markos Zachariadis, Susan V. Scott and Michael Barrett


Despite the call for pluralism in IS research there is a lack of multi-method research published in information systems journals. While many researchers might find the idea of using multiple methods attractive, there are barriers that prevent them from employing this approach in practice. In this paper we try to address key philosophical concerns that often deter more extensive use of multiple methods, encourage openness to innovative methodological choices, and deepen practical understanding about how critical realism can be used as the foundation of IS research designs. We begin by exploring the value of critical realism as a theoretical foundation for mixed-method information systems research. After discussing the debate surrounding quantitative methods (especially within economics) among critical realists, we propose making the identification of demi-regularities pivotal to the design of qualitative fieldwork. To provide support for this approach we present evidence from a study on the economic impact of IS innovation adoption in financial services which we believe highlights the value of multiple methods to inspire and inform the research process as it unfolds

Topics: H Social Sciences (General), QA76 Computer software, T Technology (General)
Publisher: Association for Information Systems
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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