Author Archives: 51770888

Is it not important that a person’s life is filled with love? It seems to me that love can be of two types : love for people (including oneself – without which, life fails), and love for the civilising and edifying aspects and products of the world, since these give us comfort, pleasure, and reassurance that existence contains more than enough to make us happy – although we may need to cultivate our senses in order to appreciate what is fine and reject what is coarse.

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Although long the norm in anthropology, sociology, and healthcare, qualitative methods are still struggling for recognition in the disciplines of purchasing, logistics, operations management, marketing, and general management (Ellram, 1996). Mentzer and Kahn (1995) noted that qualitative techniques are underused in logistics, operations, and materials management research; Ellram and Siferd (1994) noted that the overwhelming majority of empirical research in logistics, operations, and materials management is undertaken using quantitative methods. This omission implies the epistemological topography of such fields is phenomenologically arid.

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Habermas (1985) maintained that societies depend on criticisms of their own tradition. It appears that positivists, despite post-modernists' claims to the contrary, have a long tradition of self-criticism: Popper (1963) stated that deductive reasoning has an important place in science but by itself cannot say anything, and Hume (C.18th) identified the “problem of induction” - its inability to declare certain foreknowledge of future events. Probabilities replace certainties. Hume recommended observation of the regularities of nature, as these give an indication of some systematic patterning that could be applied to scientific research, whose findings could be expected to reveal reflectively systematic patterns. Feyeraband (1978) challenged the notion of the scientific method itself. Aristotle, Smith, and Rand argued that reality exists as an objective absolute perceivable through reason alone. This is positivism writ large over the social canvas, with profound implications for altruistic and ethical traditions.

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Buttle (1998) maintains that the stasis-seeking emphasis of positivism could explain the failure of positivist business literature to account for dynamism. Because this research investigates social phenomena (where stasis is rare), this claim is another reason for rejecting positivism. Perhaps of greater salience yet is positivism’s alleged inability to predict the outcomes of networks and relationships (Easton, 1995).

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Qualitative research takes support from anti-positivists, who criticize positivism for failing to accommodate the social world, possibly because social reality is constructed from meaning and expressed in practice (Hughes, 1980). Phenomenological substance is the product of an iterative process in which knowledge accrues in pendular fashion, so defies the repeatability requirements and other protocols of positivist empiricism. The qualitative researcher, often acting as participant, co-constructs theory through a cycle of dialogue and interpretation (Ponterotto, 2005). Such methods were useful for the achievement of my early research objectives, which were as follows:

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To Collis and Hussey (2009), “deductive research” describes the development and testing of conceptual frameworks and the process of moving from general laws to specific conclusions. Deductive logic advocates starting with a conceptual framework that explains, at least partially, the phenomenon of interest (Maylor and Blackmon, 2005). Deduction proceeds to test informed conjecture. Any experiment employing a “test” enacts deductivist ontology. Data collection via survey is a typical deductivist protocol: survey content is built from pre-existing theory; the survey acquires data to test that theory (using significance tests); generalization of findings to a population follows.

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