Research Proposal: Door Primary Sources for Substantive Investigation

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Primary Sources for Substantive Investigation:

To provide independent answers to a thesis question, primary sources must be utilized. The most common type of primary source is published documents. These published documents were written for large audiences, and most often were distributed widely. These can include: scholarly journals, magazines, books, government documents, newspapers, non-government reports, laws, and court decisions, to name just a few examples. Primary sources often include original research reports, written by the original researcher/researchers. This differs from secondary sources of published documents, in which authors synthesize their findings from other primary sources. Common secondary sources involve a qualitative literature review of multiple research studies to draw support for an author's thesis.

Unpublished documents can also be a primary source used for research. These include journals, personal letters, wills, diaries, deeds, financial records, business documents, and a variety of other information that is not commonly available to the public. Secondary sources with unpublished documents are similar to published documents, in that the author reviews primary sources and develops their research accordingly. Whether the primary source has been published or unpublished, there are several strengths and weaknesses related to each type.

Primary sources offer the core strength of the likelihood that results and situations are reported as accurately as possible. When information is relayed through multiple parties, often times this information becomes skewed as pieces are inadvertently lost or changed, or purposely distorted to support the viewpoints of the relayer. Receiving a direct report from the person who conducted the research or experienced the situation, minimizes this risk. Additionally, a primary source is typically written close in time period to the event; therefore, there is less of a chance that time distorts the information reported.

The potential for the author's bias, however, is a potentially significant weakness in published documents as a primary source. "When reviewing published documents, remember that just because something was published does not make it truthful, accurate, or reliable. Every document has a creator, and every creator has a point-of-view, blind spots, and biases" (Pappas, 2011).

This bias can be found in research with sample size, sample demographic that could skew results, and a misinterpretation of the results in the author's discussion and conclusion of the findings.

Thesis Question:

Is the Revolving Door practice a beneficial practice or one that inherently harms the relationship between the government and private sectors? The Revolving Door practice offers an array of benefits for the government sector and, as a result, the general public. Private sector experience and private sector power and influence can be invaluable in governmental posiitons. However, there are also instances when this Revolving Door has resulted in questionable behaviors. According to O'Brien (2008), Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, was appointed the Secretary of the Treasury by President George W. Bush. In 2008, this Revolving Door policy was thought to play a part in the government bail out of Goldman Sachs and saving Paulson from financial ruin. The question becomes, do the benefits of utilizing a Revolving Door strategy outweigh the potential disadvantages that can occur when this Revolving Door allows individuals to cycle through private and public sector positions?

Methodology:

The future research paper will investigate if the Revolving Door practice is a beneficial practice or one that inherently harms the relationship between the government and private sectors. As such, a qualitative methodology will be utilized. The qualitative methodology that will be utilized for this research will be the case study approach.

As Tellis (1997) notes, case study research has seen periods of both intense use and disuse. The earliest form of case study research can be found in Europe and specifically France. In the early 20th century, the University of Chicago's Department of Sociology began to use case study as their primary methodology. Through the case study approach, researchers are able to pay special attention to the completeness of observation, reconstruction and analysis of cases under the study. Case studies are effective as they are able to incorporate the view of actors in the situation. As advancements were made in quantitative methods, the case study fell out of favor in the mid-1930s. In the 1960s, the tides began to turn for case study use. Concerns began to emerge regarding the limitations of quantitative methodologies.

Despite this renewed interest and use, the case study methodology still finds critics who express concern with the dependence on a single case and that this is not able to provide a generalized conclusion. However,

Hamel and Yin forcefully argued that the relative size of the sample whether 2, 10 or 100

cases are used, does not transform a multiple case into a macroscopic study. The goal of the study should establish the parameters, and then should be applied to all research. In this way, even a single case could be considered acceptable, provided it met the established objective (cited in Tellis, 1997).

The inflexibility of quantitative methodologies often makes case study methodology the only viable alternative. Yin (1981) states that case studies represent a research strategy that is likened to a history, an experiment or simulation. Like these alternative research strategies, the case study is not linked to a particular method of data collection or type of evidence. Case studies can utilize a single- or multiple-case design. In a multiple case design, replication must be followed rather than sampling logic. If no other cases are available for replication, then a single-case design is utilized. A multiple-case design, however, leads to an increased confidence in the theory's robustness. Case studies also offer the advantage of being able to account for both process and outcomes, as they can include not only quantitative, but also qualitative data (Tellis, 1997). As Yin (1981) notes, "Case studies can be done by using either qualita-tive or quantitative evidence. The evidence may come from fieldwork, archival records, verbal reports, observations, or any combination of these" (p. 58).

With descriptive case studies, the researcher begins with a descriptive theory. "What is implied in this type of study is the formation of hypotheses of cause-effect relationships. Hence the descriptive theory must cover the depth and scope of the case under study. The selection of cases and the unit of analysis is developed in the same manner as the other types of case studies" (Tellis, 1997).

Tellis (1997) surmises that the ultimate case study characteristic is that the researcher strives toward a complete understanding of the cultural systems that are in action. Cultural systems refer to the interrelated sets of activities that the actors engage in, in a situation. Although case studies are not a sampling type of research, the cases a researcher selects must be done to maximize the information that is learned. See the Image 1 for a basic flow chart detailing the case study methodology process.

Image 1: Case Study Methodology Process

("Advanced qualitative," 2010).

Article Critique and Review:

The Normative Case Study

Thacher (2006) discusses the recent literature which argues that case studies are not only appropriate as contributions to explanatory theory, but also normative theory as well. Thacher's theory is in direct contrast with Max Weber's conclusion and surmises that social sciences are critical in the prescriptive study of values. This includes what Thacher describes as 'thick ethical concepts,' including: 'courage,' 'leadership' and 'neighborhood vitality.' Normative case studies, according to Thacher,

aim to contribute to our understanding of important public values -- to ideas, for example, about what a good city neighborhood should provide, what responsibilities organizational leaders should attend to, or when military intervention is justified. They make thes contributions by bringing into view situations we had not previously envisioned, since normative reflection about such cases can lead us to rethink the ideals to which we are committed if the ideals advise counterintuitive judgments about the case (p. 1632).

Thacher (2006) clearly discusses the limitations of his work. He notes that there are still many questions to be answered. However, he states that the first priority is to establish the philosophical basis of normative case studies. Thacher notes that more discussion regarding the connections between interpretive, causal and normative analysis, in case research, must be had, including extended analysis of concrete examples. In addition, attention must also be paid to the opposite connection - "the contribution that normative case study inquiry makes to causal and interpretive studies, which regularly traffic in normative concepts" (p. 1670).

The Impact of Economics on Contemporary Political Science

Miller (1997) discusses the impact of economics on contemporary political science. The author notes that in the nineteenth century, the social thinkers of the time did not distinguish between their political and economic writings. The analysis methods for both of these topics were similar. In general, verbal arguments were used, dominated primarily by normative concerns. In 1871, William S. Jevons theorized that mathematical analysis was critical to his discipline. This theory was the foundation of the marginalist school of economics, which widend the gap between economic and political science.

Miller (1997) notes that for the next… [END OF PREVIEW]

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