Sarantakos defined research method as “the theory of methods” (Sarantakos 2012; p. 465) or the way through which a researcher makes sense of the object of inquiry. Within research methodology, research strategy assumes the “general plan of how the researcher will go about answering the research questions” (Saunders et al. 2009; p. 90). Research strategy is of seven types:
- case studies,
- grounded theory,
- action research and
- archival research.
Research strategies based on an inductive approach
Action research is based on four themes wherein the first theme is to focus on the purpose of research.
Secondly, the role of the researcher within the research study. Therefore, the researcher should involve in the change management process or is facing the implications of change within the case organisation. Thirdly, the process of diagnosing, planning and taking action is the central theme of this strategy. The final theme indicates that action research should have implications beyond immediate research.
Ethnography is rooted firmly in the inductive approach. The purpose of this strategy is to describe and explain research subjects just the way it would provide a description or explanation to the subjects. This strategy is time-consuming. Most of the studies in business perspectives avoid using this strategy.
Archival research is based on administrative records and documents as a source of data which can be both recent or historical. Data which is collected for different purposes is analysed to determine the implications of the same.
Research strategies based on a deductive approach
An experiment was first applied to natural sciences with the purpose to study causal links. In other words to examine whether the change in the independent variable induces a change in the dependent variable. The number of independent variables can be different. In a classic experiment, two or more groups are established with each group denoted as an experimental group.
A survey is associated with a deductive approach. Most of the studies related to business and management adopt this strategy. A survey enables the researcher to collect a huge amount of data from a sizeable target population. The data can be analysed using descriptive and inferential analysis tools.
Research strategies based on mixed approach (deductive and inductive approach)
A case study involves an empirical investigation to study contemporary phenomena using multiple sources of evidence (Robson, 2002). A case study is opposed to an experimental strategy which is not bound to a context. It is most suitable when gaining in-depth insight into the research context.
Grounded theory is the best example of a mixed approach where the emphasis is on theory building. This strategy is adopted to predict and explain behaviour. In this strategy, the research initiates the development of a theoretical framework. New theories are developed on the basis of the theoretical framework.
Need for research strategy
Research strategy enables the researcher to answer the research questions or the elementary questions which shape the flow and structure of the study. Therefore, the necessity of deploring a research strategy is based on the aims and objectives of the study. As Saunders et al. (2009) have emphasised that the choice of the research strategy is guided by research questions and objectives. Similarly, the extent of existing knowledge, the availability of the amount of time, as well as philosophical underpinnings are also important.
Selecting a research strategy based on the research approach
Based on three different approaches of reasoning in a methodology, it is important to adopt a strategy. As mentioned above, some are applied to research based on inductive strategy.
In order to understand the different research approaches that exists in research, it is important to go through our article on Research Approach. Upon selection of the approach of reasoning, you will be able to apply an appropriate strategy.
- Benbasat, I., Goldstein, D.K. & Mead, M., 1987. The Case Research Strategy in Studies of Information Systems on JSTOR. MIS Quarterly, 11(3), pp.369–386. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/248684?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents [Accessed May 4, 2016].
- Gray, D.E., 2014. Theoretical perspectives and research methodologies. Doing research in the real world, pp.16–38.
- Sarantakos, S., 2012. Social Research, Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=IjUdBQAAQBAJ&pgis=1 [Accessed May 4, 2016].
- Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A., 2009. Research Methods for Business Students 5th ed., Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited.