FROM INTERPRETIVISM TO POSITIVISM: A METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THE RESEARCH IN HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (HRM)

M. A. Shantha Wijesinghe

Abstract


As the research in many other disciplines methodological aspects of the research in HRM are also under debate in the context of present development. Due to the complexity of an issue academicians and the professional practitioners in HRM attempt to view a problem in different angles by applying various methodologies associated with different philosophical paradigms in research. Among them positivism and the interpretivism are two different major paradigms, which have set the foundation for quantitative and qualitative dualism in turn.Positivism basically focuses on the objective reality of the issue while interpretivism emphasizes its subjective reality. Thus, there is no argument for the fact that the research in HRM should mainly follow the interpretive methodological approach, which mainly focuses on qualitative aspects of human resources. But in professional practice, researchers in HRM have confronted a great challenge particularly in analyzing subjective data with many disadvantages of the interpretive approach. Among them the difficulty of generalizing the issue and its causes and findings is one of the most important challenging aspects. In many instances, professionals in this field are worrying of its disadvantages, as they have not been able to show their results to the organization objectively. Sometime this may be due to their ignorance of the application of proper methodology in research and/or the lack of knowledge in quantitative analysis. However, due to different reasons professional practitioners in this field are so keen of finding a suitable methodology so that they would be able to show the productive results according to world-wide accepted norm of scientific method. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to discuss the ways and means of integrating two different methodologies, starting with interpretivism that is the most realistic in HRM and then combining with positivism, which is generally accepted scientific method by quantitative researchers. Methodologically this is a theoretical paper but some HR cases are cited to justify the points where necessary. The output of the paper discuses the ways and means of transferring from qualitative interpretivism to quantitative positivism by converting the HR variables into non-parametric and parametric data and output. It provides guidelines to the academicians, researchers and professional practitioners in this field for testing logical relationships between the problematic variable and its related causes.


Key Words: Positivism, Interpretivism, Methodological Paradigms, Parametric and Non-parametric Data

For full paper: fmscresearch@sjp.ac.lk


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Faculty of Management Studies & Commerce