Thesis: Mixed Methods and the Study of Organizational

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Mixed Methods and the Study of Organizational Culture

Modern organizational theory implies that a close consultation with labor and managerial personnel at every level of organization in the completion of key decision-making tasks may demarcate the difference between operational success and failure. Evidence within an organization that such consultation is not properly occurring should provoke an evaluation of the leadership within said context. A variety of methods are available to this end.

Most immediately, an intuitive qualitative approach becomes apparent as a valid way to comprehend the impact on overall employee morale, collective organizational effectiveness and individual performance indexes as a result of the lack of democratic process in the implementation of procedural, operational or regulatory changes. The employees themselves should be offered the opportunity to report anonymously upon their personal experiences within the organization under the framework of a research question concerning the insularity of its core decision-making appendages. Using a cross-method approach employing written questionnaires and one-on-one interviews, we may determine the impact on those excluded from the decision-making process of said exclusion.

A strictly quantitative approach to this problem might, instead, utilize organizational metrics to determine what percentage of the organization is consulted in the process of decision-making and what percentage is thereby affected. For example, we may take a case in which an organization determines that it will adopt a new procedure upon which, with each completed sale of a service or product, the employee responsible must file a report detailing the nature of the completed transaction including important demographic information on the customer and an articulated report upon the verbal exchange.

We may deduce that the adoption of this policy was decided by an administrative staff of a dozen individuals within an organization of 500 people, wherein an approximation of 60% of individuals would be directly impacted by the added responsibility, added paperwork and added labor. By using these numerics in order to yield conclusions about the quantifiable level of personnel input in decisions effecting majority portions of the organization, we may develop a quantitative study centered upon the disenfranchisement of statistically significant portions of the organizational population.

A mixed method study might seek to draw a correlation between the apparent dearth of collective involvement in decision-making and a resultant shortfall in performance expectations. Here, we might employ the same method as that detailed above in the qualitative research section of our discussion. By interviewing organizational personnel on the topic, we can gain valuable descriptive accounting of the presence or absence of personnel access to the decision-making process.

This, in turn, may serve as indicative of an independent variable, with the dependent variable being the economic performance of organizations where such democracy is present vs. that in organization's where such is absent. The comparative study might be used to test the hypothesis initiating this discussion, that there is a direct correlation between democratic organizational decision-making and desirable economic performance.

Triangulation, depending upon the science or discipline in which it is contextualized, has a wide variance of possible meanings. As point of fact, Singleton notes that "social scientists have borrowed the term triangulation from the field of navigation to help describe how to use the multiple, independent approaches to a research question that can enable an investigator to 'zero in' on the answers or information sought." (Singleton, 393) the implication, therefore, of triangulation is that this method may be used to draw connections between otherwise seemingly unrelated variables through a method of literature review and the cross-checking of formal relationships. Creswell views triangulation rather in the same manner, describing it as a method of data analysis which can be pertinent to establishing the credibility of the research as well as its potential for external validity. (Creswell, 197)

According to the multiple methods technique of data analysis, there are essentially two means through which researchers can improve the likelihood of consistency and reliability in data. One way to conduct this technique is to utilize multiple forms of measurements for the representation of data. By employing a variety of numerical or qualitative metrics for articulating yielded data, researchers heighten the likelihood that they will chance upon a possible avenue for further illumination. Such may also be accomplished, Singleton explains, by exercising the same hypothesis or research question through multiple methods of experimentation. If it can be determined through such that the resultant data are conducive to parallel findings, this may prove a way to better assure the veracity of conclusions derived there from. Creswell does not articulate a position on this approach.

The text provided by Cooper is a useful addition to the discussion, underscoring this idea of triangulation by drawing together the variant strains of internal evaluation used to generate observations concerning employee experiences. The sum of the research resolves "that such interventions can have more general positive effects for the organisation, because stress-related complaints can be indicators of underlying factors that may negatively affect other organisational goals as well." (Cooper, 2007, p.227) Cooper is ultimately able to make that claim due to the empirical value of quantitative confirmation.

Another article which contributes to the finding here that quantitative-leaning mixed method approaches can be beneficial in offering empirical conclusions with nuanced discursive contextualization, Burke et al.'s article helps to place these ideas in the framework of a specific working environment. Here, the ongoing shortage of labor in the field of nursing is produced by a variety of factors precipitated by workplace conditions. The impingement of unsatisfactory or unresponsive supervision is a major cause for job discontent and turnover. This justifies the research conducted in the 1982 peer-reviewed study, "Effective Management of Day-to-Day Job Performance: Motivational Strategies and Work Outcomes." Concerning the dual indicators of job productivity and the related outcomes in the workplace, the quasi-experimental research conducted here would be primarily survey-based, but centered upon a quasi-experimental method of data analysis centered upon drawing correlative equations through a varying recombination of variables. Job performance, in this study, is measured according to its direct correlation with methods of supervisory motivation as well as the procedural practices used to contend with less-than-adequate performance. Thus, the variables measured are a selected range of such strategies for both categories. The researchers used questionnaires to examine "13 aspects of the way supervisors responded to their day-to-day job performance and six performance-related work outcomes." (35) These variables would be measured in relation to one another, with the study essentially geared toward establishing a proportional correlation between positive work related outcomes and positive supervisor response.

The data analysis is displayed in a table which "presents the correlations of the 13 process variables relating to the management of day-today job performance with the six outcome measures. Seventy-seven of the 78 were positive and the vast majority (73 out of 78, 91%) were statistically significant (p <.05)." (38) This is to indicate that by manipulating various permutations regarding the answers received on the questionnaire and their multifarious causal relationships across two categories, researchers determined that there were consistent indicators yielded in the data to conclude that a positive relationship was present between the ways that supervisors were seen as responding positively to job performance and the achievement of important work outcomes.

In logical procession, the study also helped to establish a positive relationship between specifically punitive methods of supervisor response to negative job performance and the resultant shortfall of important work outcomes. This is a good demonstration of triangulation, with researcher applying a certain degree of creativity in making connections more apparent between various factors constructing a workplace experience.

As to the quantitative opportunities made possible by the above cited study, though the questionnaire is likely the most often implemented of qualitative research tools, with its simplicity, aptitude for standardization and familiarity to potential test subjects making it an affordable and attractive option for researchers, it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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