References on Interpretive Research


Qualitative Research in Information Systems: References on Interpretive Research

Section Editor: Michael D. Myers

This is a list of references on interpretive research. After a brief introduction which suggests those works which are essential reading for newcomers to the field, the list is organized into two parts: the first part lists citations related to the approach in Information Systems, the second lists citations related to the approach in other disciplines. Please note that this list contains a few suggestions only and is not intended to be comprehensive. I encourage you to search Google Scholar, the AIS e-library and/or some other bibliographic database for a more complete and up-to-date list.

[Introduction] [Citations in Information Systems] [Citations in Other Disciplines]
[Back to Qualitative Research in Information Systems]


A very readable introduction to the interpretive perspective is Berger and Luckman’s (1967) book. For a more in-depth consideration of the philosophical underpinnings of interpretivism, Palmer’s (1969) collection of readings on hermeneutics is excellent. From there, the serious scholar will want to look at Gadamer’s (1975) “Truth and Method“, which is regarded as a classic in the field, and Bernstein’s (1983) work, which is seen as an important landmark in social philosophy.

In the IS field, two books can be regarded as essential reading: Winograd and Flores (1986) work and Walsham’s (1993) text. The following are excellent examples of research articles in IS which explicitly use hermeneutics: Boland (1991), Davis, Lee, Nickles, Chatterjee, Hartung and Wu (1992), Lee (1994), and Myers (1994). Klein and Truex’s (1995) paper is a good example of the use of semiotics in IS. A Special Issue of the Journal of Information Technology on Interpretive Research in Information Systems was published in December 1998.

Klein and Myers’ (1999) paper suggests a set of principles for the conduct and evaluation of interpretive research in IS. This paper was the winner of MIS Quarterly’s Best Paper Award for 1999.

Citations in Information Systems

Andersen, P-B. “A Semiotic Approach to Construction and Assessment of Computer Systems,” in Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein, R.A. Hirschheim (eds.), NorthHolland, Amsterdam, 1991, pp. 465514.

Anderson, P-B. and Holmqvist, B. (eds.). The Semiotics of the Workplace, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1995.

Auramaki, E., Lehtinen, E. and Lyytinen, K. “A Speech-Act-Based Office Modeling Approach,” ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems (6:2), April 1988, pp. 126-152.

Barrett, M. and Walsham, G. “Electronic Trading and Work Transformation in the London Insurance Market, Information Systems Research (10:1), March 1999, pp. 1-22.

Baskerville, R., Pentland, B.T. and Walsham, G. “A Workshop on Two Techniques for Qualitative Analysis: Interviewing and Evaluation,” Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Conference on Information Systems, 1994, p. 503-4.

Beath, C.M. and Orlikowski, W.J. “The Contradictory Structure of Systems Development Methodologies: Deconstructing the IS-User Relationship in Information Engineering,” Information Systems Research (5:4), December 1994, pp. 350-377.

Bentley, R., Rodden, T., Sawyer, P., Sommerville, I., Hughes, J., Randall, R. and Shapiro, D. “Ethnographically-Informed Systems Design for Air Traffic Control”, ACM 1992 Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: Sharing Perspectives, ACM Press, New York, 1992, pp. 123-129.

Boland, R. “The process and product of system design,” Management Science (28:9), 1978, pp. 887-898.

Richard Boland was probably the first researcher in information systems to draw attention to the relevance of hermeneutics and phenomenology to IS research. All of his following articles (including this one) are excellent examples of interpretivism in IS research.

Boland, R. “Control, causality and information system requirements,” Accounting, Organizations and Society (4:4), 1979, pp. 259272.

Boland, R. “Phenomenology: A Preferred Approach to Research in Information Systems,” in Research Methods in Information Systems, E. Mumford, R.A. Hirschheim, G. Fitzgerald, and T. WoodHarper (eds.), NorthHolland, Amsterdam, 1985, pp. 193201.

Boland, R.J. Jr. “Information System Use as a Hermeneutic Process,” in Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein, R.A. Hirschheim (eds.), NorthHolland, Amsterdam, 1991, pp. 439-464..

Boland, R.J. and Day, W.F. “The Experience of System Design: A Hermeneutic of Organizational Action,” Scandinavian Journal of Management (5: 2), 1989, pp. 87-104.

Bussen, Wendy, and Michael D. Myers. 1997. “Executive Information Systems Failure: A New Zealand Case Study.” Journal of Information Technology Vol. 12, No.2, June 1997, pp. 145-153.

Butler, T. “Towards a hermeneutic method for interpretive research in information systems,” Journal of Information Technology (13:4), 1998, pp. 285-300.

Crowe, M., Beeby, R. and Gammack, J. Constructing Systems and Information: A Process View, McGraw-Hill, London, 1996.

The authors argue that information is not merely a property of data but something we ourselves meaningfully construct in making sense of situations. The authors suggest that an underlying philosophy of ‘constructivism’ better supports designing for adaptivity in changing environments than a realist approach to systems development. This book discusses and extends the interpretivist tradition in IS.

Davies, L. and Myers, M.D. “Scholarship and practice: the contribution of ethnographic research methods to bridging the gap,” in Business Process Re-Engineering: Information Systems Opportunities and Challenges, B.C. Glasson, I.T. Hawryszkiewycz, B.A. Underwood and R.A. Weber (eds.), North Holland, Amsterdam, 1994, pp. 223-231.

Davies, L., Newman, M. and Kaplan, B. “A Workshop on Two Techniques for Qualitative Analysis: Interviewing and Evaluation,” Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on Information Systems, 1993, p. 399.

Davis, G.B., Lee, A.S., Nickles, K.R., Chatterjee, S., Hartung, R. and Wu, Y., “Diagnosis of an Information System Failure: A Framework and Interpretive Process,” Information & Management, (23:5), 1992, pp. 293-318.

Abstract: In diagnosing an episode of information system application failure, the IS professional and others doing the analysis face two challenges: (1) relevant data must be identified, collected , and organised; and (2) the data must be analysed and interpreted to form a coherent picture of the perspectives, actions and events which resulted in the troubled or failed system. This article provides a diagnostic framework and interpretive analysis for performing a diagnosis. The premise underlying the diagnostic framework is that an information system is a social system that uses information technology. The social and technical dimensions in the diagnosis of an information system are represented in a two-dimensional framework. Once the data and comments about the failure have been organised in the framework, the process of interpretation follows procedures based on interpretive methods (hermeneutics). The framework and associated interpretive methods assist those doing a diagnosis in applying two powerful bodies of knowledge to failure diagnosis – socio-technical systems and interpretive methods. The article describes the framework and interpretive process, explains the rationale for them, and demonstrates their use for a case situation.

Comment: This paper is an excellent example of the use of the hermeneutic approach to interpreting case study data. The development of the interpretation is clearly described as a series of steps in which the researcher’s understanding and interpretation of the case study data develop. The topic of the paper is clearly of interest to both researchers and practitioners (Provided by M. Broadbent and G. Shanks).

Dietz, J.L.G. and Widdershoven, G.A.M. “Speech Acts or Communicative Action?” Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1991, p. 235-248.

Dietz, J.L.G. and Widdershoven, G.A.M. “A comparison of the linguistic theories of Searle and Habermas as a basis for communication support systems,” in Linguistic Instruments in Knowledge Engineering, R. Van der Reit, and R. Meersman, (eds.), North-Holland, New York, 1992, p. 121-130.

Dhillon, G. Managing information system security. Macmillan, London, 1997.

Abstract: In this book I present an interpretive study of information system security within organizations. I have used concepts rooted in semiotics to conduct the argument (Provided by the author).

Doolin, B. “Information technology as disciplinary technology: being critical in interpretive research on information systems,” Journal of Information Technology (13:4), 1998, pp. 301-311.

Fitzgerald, B. and Howcroft, D. “Towards dissolution of the IS research debate: from polarization to polarity,” Journal of Information Technology (13:4), 1998, pp. 313-326.

Gerson, E.M. and Star, S.L. “Analyzing Due Process in the Workplace,” ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems (4:3), July 1986, pp. 257-270.

Gopal, A. and Prasad, P. “Understanding GDSS in Symbolic Context: Shifting the Focus from Technology to Interaction,” MIS Quarterly (24:3), 2000, pp. 509-546.

Harvey, L. and Myers, M.D. “Scholarship and practice: the contribution of ethnographic research methods to bridging the gap”, Information Technology & People, (8:3), 1995, pp. 13-27.

This article provides an overview of ethnography in IS research. The above paper received the MCB University Press Award for Excellence for the most outstanding paper published in the 1995 volume of Information Technology & People. A PDF version of this paper is Harvey-Myers.

Heaton, L. “Talking heads vs. virtual workspaces: a comparison of design across cultures,” Journal of Information Technology (13:4), 1998, pp. 259-272.

Hewitt, C. “Offices are Open Systems,” Transactions on Office Information Systems (4:3), 1986, pp. 271-287.

Hirschheim, R. “Information Systems Epistemology: An Historical Perspective,” in Information Systems Research: Issues, Methods and Practical Guidelines, R. Galliers (ed.), Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, 1992, pp. 28-60.

Jones, M. and Nandhakumar, J. “Structured Development? A Structurational Analysis of the Development of an Executive Information System” in Human, Organizational, and Social Dimensions of Information Systems Development D. Avison, J.E. Kendall and J.I.DeGross (eds.), North Holland, Amsterdam, 1993, pp. 475-496.

Kaplan, B. and Duchon, D. “Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Information Systems Research: A Case Study,” MIS Quarterly (12:4) 1988, pp. 571-587.

Kaplan, B. and Maxwell, J.A. “Qualitative Research Methods for Evaluating Computer Information Systems,” in Evaluating Health Care Information Systems: Methods and Applications, J.G. Anderson, C.E. Aydin and S.J. Jay (eds.), Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1994, pp. 45-68.

Klein H. K. and Hirschheim R. “Issues and Approaches to Appraising Technological Change in the Office: A Consequential Perspective,” Office: Technology and People, (2), 1983, pp. 1524.

Klein, H. K. and Michael D. Myers. “A Set of Principles for Conducting and Evaluating Interpretive Field Studies in Information Systems,” MIS Quarterly, Special Issue on Intensive Research  (23:1), 1999, pp. 67-93.

Absract: This article discusses the conduct and evaluation of interpretive research in information systems. While the conventions for evaluating information systems case studies conducted according to the natural science model of social science are now widely accepted, this is not the case for interpretive field studies. A set of principles for the conduct and evaluation of interpretive field research in information systems is proposed, along with their philosophical rationale. The usefulness of the principles is illustrated by evaluating three published interpretive field studies drawn from the IS research literature. The intention of the paper is to further reflection and debate on the important subject of grounding interpretive research methodology.

Klein, H.K. and Truex III, D.P. “Discourse Analysis: A Semiotic Approach to the Investigation of Organizational Emergence,” in The Semiotics of the Workplace, P.B. Andersen and B. Holmqvist (eds.), Walter De Gruyter, Berlin, 1995.

Komito, L. “Paper ‘work’ and electronic files: defending professional practice,” Journal of Information Technology (13:4), 1998, pp. 235-246.

Paper documents are often described as ‘information rich’, in contrast with electronic documents. This ethnographic study examines Lotus NOTES in a sub-section of the Irish civil service, with particular reference to the concurrent use of electronic and paper documents. The sub-section examines disagreements with regard to claims by Irish citizens for particular government benefits. The study describes how meta-information contained in paper case files is perceived as necessary for the work of the organisation, thus restricting the use of electronic case files in NOTES as a shared information system. However, this reliance on paper files derives not only from the information rich properties of paper documents, but also from the desire of some workers to protect occupational status by defining, as necessary for their job, information which is only available in paper documents and which only they can interpret. This dependence on paper documents also reduces the amount of information that can be shared within the organisation. This paper suggests that, only if the perceived threat posed by the information system were reduced in some way would user innovations in work practices and greater sharing of information within the organisation become possible.


Kumar, K., van Dissel, H.G., and Bielli, P. “The Merchant of Prato – Revisited: Toward a Third Rationality of Information Systems,” MIS Quarterly (22:2), 1998, pp. 199-226.

Lacity, M.C. and Janson, M.A. “Understanding Qualitative Data: A Framework of Text Analysis Methods,” Journal of Management Information Systems (11:2), Fall 1994, pp. 137-155.

Larsen, M. and Myers, M.D. 1999. “When success turns into failure: a package-driven business process re-engineering project in the financial services industry,” Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Vol. 8, No. 4, December 1999, pp. 395-417.

Lee, A.S. “A Scientific Methodology for MIS Case Studies,” MIS Quarterly (13:1), 1989, pp. 33-52.

Lee, A. S. “Integrating Positivist and Interpretive Approaches to Organizational Research,” Organization Science, (2), 1991, pp. 342-365.

Lee, A.S. “Electronic Mail as a Medium for Rich Communication: An Empirical Investigation Using Hermeneutic Interpretation,” MIS Quarterly (18:2), June 1994, pp. 143-157.

Lee, A.S., Baskerville, R.L. and Davies, L. “A Workshop on Two Techniques for Qualitative Data Analysis: Action Research and Ethnography,” Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Information Systems, 1992, p. 305-306.

Lehtinen, E., and Lyytinen, K. “Action based model of information system,” Information Systems (2:4), 1986, pp. 299317.

Liebenau, J. and Backhouse, J.  Understanding information: An introduction. Macmillan, London, 1990.

Lyytinen, K. and Ngwenyama, O.K. “What does computer support for cooperative work mean? A structurational analysis of computer supported cooperative work,” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (2:1), 1992, pp. 19-37.

Levine, H.G. and Rossmore, D. “Diagnosing the Human Threats to Information Technology Implementation: A Missing Factor in Systems Analysis Illustrated in a Case Study,” Journal of Management Information Systems, (10:2), Fall 1993, pp. 55-73.

Lyytinen, K. J. and Ngwenyama, O. K. “What does computer support for cooperative work mean? A structurational analysis of computer supported cooperative work,” Accounting, Management and Information Technology (2:1), 1992, pp. 1937.

Madsen, K.H. “Breakthrough by Breakdown,” in Information Systems Development for Human Progress in Organizations, H.K. Klein and K. Kumar (eds.), 1989, pp. 41-53.

Majchrzak, A., Rice, R.E., Malhotra, A., King, N., and Ba, S. “Technology Adaptation: The Case of a Computer-Supported Inter-Organizational Virtual Team,” MIS Quarterly (24:4), 2000, pp. 569-600.

Murray, F. “Technical rationality and the IS specialist: Power, discourse and identity,” Critical Perspectives on Accounting (2) 1991, pp. 5981.

Myers, M.D. “A disaster for everyone to see: an interpretive analysis of a failed IS project,” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (4:4), 1994a, pp. 185-201.

Abstract: The New Zealand Education Department attempted to implement a centralised payroll system in 1989. The difficulties that the department experienced were broadcast on national radio and television and publicised on the front page of The New Zealand Herald. In the end, the centralised payroll system was scrapped by the government. This paper examines this case study using the critical hermeneutics of Gadamer and Ricoeur. Critical hermeneutics, as an integrative theoretical framework, combines both interpretive and critical elements, and addresses those social and organisational issues, which are key to the successful implementation of information systems. This paper suggests critical hermeneutics as a conceptual foundation for information systems implementation research.

Comments: This paper shows how critical hermeneutics can be used in the interpretation of case study data. The case study is presented in a way which clearly explains the changing perspectives of the various stakeholders in the information system implementation (Provided by M. Broadbent and G. Shanks).

Myers, M. D. “Quality in Qualitative Research in Information Systems”, Proceedings of the 5th Australasian Conference on Information Systems, 1994b, pp. 763-766.

Myers, M.D. “Dialectical hermeneutics: a theoretical framework for the implementation of information systems,” Information Systems Journal (5:1), 1995, pp. 51-70.

Myers, M.D. “Hermeneutics in Information Systems Research,” in: Social Theory and Philosophy for Information Systems, J. Mingers and L.P. Willcocks (eds.), John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2004, pp. 103-128.

Nandhakumar, J. “Design for Success?: critical success factors in executive information systems development “ European Journal of Information Systems 5, 1996, pp. 62-72.

Nandhakumar, J. and Jones, M. “Too close for comfort? Distance and engagement in interpretive information systems research,” Information Systems Journal (7:2), 1997, pp. 109-131.

Orlikowski, W.J. “Integrated Information Environment or Matrix of Control? The Contradictory Implications of Information Technology,” Accounting, Management and Information Technologies (1:1), 1991, pp. 9-42.

Abstract: This paper examines the extent to which information technology deployed in work processes facilitates changes in forms of control and forms of organising. A field study of a single organisation that implemented information technology in its production processes is presented as an empirical investigation of these issues. The findings indicate that information technology reinforced established forms of organising and facilitated an intensification and fusion of existing mechanisms of control. While debunking the technological imperative once again, the results also provide a number of insights into the contradictory implications of computer-based work and control in organisations. In particular, this paper shows that when information technology mediates work processes, it creates an information environment, which while it may facilitate integrated and flexible operations, may also enable a disciplinary matrix of knowledge and power. These findings and their implications for control, forms of organising, and professional practice are discussed.

Comments: This paper presents a thorough analysis of relevant literature which motivated the field study. Detailed descriptions are presented and the discussion of implications is well related to the literature. Although the paper is longer than most, it is a very good example of interpretive research (Provided by M. Broadbent and G. Shanks).

Orlikowski, W.J. “CASE Tools as Organizational Change: Investigating Incremental and Radical Changes in Systems Development,” MIS Quarterly (17:3), September 1993, pp. 309-340.

Orlikowski, W.J. “Improvising Organizational Transformation Over Time: A Situated Change Perspective,” Information Systems Research (7:1), 1996, pp. 63-92.

Orlikowski, W.J. & Baroudi, J.J. “Studying Information Technology in Organizations: Research Approaches and Assumptions”, Information Systems Research (2) 1991, pp. 1-28.

An excellent overview of the underlying epistemological perspectives and assumptions in IS research.

Orlikowski, W.J., Markus, M.L. and Lee, A.S. “A Workshop on Two Techniques for Qualitative Data Analysis: Analytic Induction and Hermeneutics,” Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Information Systems, 1991, p. 390-1.

Orlikowski, W.J. and Robey, D. “Information Technology and the Structuring of Organizations,” Information Systems Research (2), 1991, pp. 143-169.

Orlikowski, W.J. and Yates, J. “Genre Repertoire: The Structuring of Communicative Practices in Organizations,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 39, 1994, pp. 541-574.

Phillips, D.J. “The social construction of a secure, anonymous electronic payment system: frame alignment and mobilization around Ecash,” Journal of Information Technology (13:4), 1998, pp. 273-283.

Pozzebon, M. “Conducting and Evaluating Critical Interpretive Research: Examining Criteria as a Key Component in Building a Research Tradition,” in: Information Systems Research: Relevant Theory and Informed Practice, B. Kaplan, D.P. Truex, D. Wastell, A.T. Wood-Harper and J.I. DeGross (eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA, 2004, pp. 275-292.

Abstract: The collection, analysis,and interpretation of empirical materials are always conducted within some broader understanding of what constitutes legitimate inquiry and valid knowledge. This paper describes the timely emergence of a critical interpretive perspective in IS research and holds the argument that an extended version of Golden-Biddle and Locke.s (1993) criteria is not only appropriate but comprehensive as initial guidelines for conducting and evaluating critical interpretive research.

PriesHeje, J. “Three barriers for continuing use of computer-based tools: a grounded theory approach,” Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems (4), 1992, pp. 119-136.

Rathswohl, E.J. “Applying Don Idhe’s Phenomenology of Instrumentation as a Framework for Designing Research in Information Science,” in Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein, R.A. Hirschheim (eds.), NorthHolland, Amsterdam, 1991, pp. 421-438.

Sayer, K. “Denying the technology: middle management resistance in business process re-engineering,” Journal of Information Technology (13:4), 1998, pp. 247-257.

Schultze, U. “A Confessional Account of an Ethnography about Knowledge Work,” MIS Quarterly (24:1), 2000, pp. 3-41.

Stamper, R. Information in Business and Administrative Systems, Batsford, London, 1973.

Comments: Semiotics was first introduced to the IS community by Ronald Stamper in his seminal 1973 book. The book can be regarded as one of the classic IS texts (Provided by Frank Land).

Suchman, L. Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Trauth, E.M., and Jessup, L.M. “Understanding Computer-Mediated Discussions: Positivist and Interpretive Analyses of Group Support System Use,” MIS Quarterly (24:1), 2000, pp. 43-79.

Turkle, S. “Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDs,” Mind, Culture and Activity, 1, 1994, pp. 158-17.

Visala, S. “Broadening the empirical framework of Information Systems Research,” in Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein, R.A. Hirschheim (eds.), NorthHolland, Amsterdam, 1991, pp. 347-364.

Walsham, G. Interpreting Information Systems in Organizations, Wiley, Chichester, 1993.

Walsham’s book is an excellent introduction to the interpretive perspective on IS phenomena.

Walsham, G. “Interpretive case studies in IS research: nature and method,” European Journal of Information Systems (4), 1995, pp. 74-81.

Walsham, G. “The Emergence of Interpretivism in IS Research,” Information Systems Research (6:4), 1995, pp. 376-394.

In this article Walsham provides an overview of the historical development of interpretivism in IS research.

Walsham, G. and Waema, T. “Information Systems Strategy and Implementation: A Case Study of a Building Society,” ACM Transactions on Information Systems (12:2), April 1994, pp. 150-173.

Walsham, G., and Sahay, S. “GIS for District-Level Administration in India: Problems and Opportunities,” MIS Quarterly (23:1), 1999, pp. 39-65.

Winograd, T. & Flores, F. Understanding Computers and Cognition, A New Foundation for Design, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. Inc., New York 1987.

This book discusses the relevance of hermeneutics and other social and philosophical theories to the design of computer systems.

Wynn, E. Office Conversation as an Information Medium, PhD Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1979.

Wynn, E. “Taking Practice Seriously”, in Design at Work, J. Greenbaum, and M. Kyng (eds.), New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991.

Zemanek, H. “Semiotics and programming languages,” Communications of the ACM (9:3), 1966, pp. 139-143.

Zuboff, S. In the Age of the Smart Machine, New York, Basic Books, 1988.

Citations in Other Disciplines

Austin, J.L. How to Do Things with Words, Clarendon Press, London, 1962.

An important work in semiotics.

Berger, P. and Luckman, T. The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge, Penguin Publishers, London, 1967.

A very readable introduction to the interpretive perspective in social science, showing how social reality is socially constructed.

Bernstein, R.J. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, University of Pennsylvania Press, Pennsylvania, 1983.

This book marks an important landmark in social philosophy and the philosophy of science. Bernstein draws attention to the hermeneutical dimension in all science, drawing on Kuhn’s work amongst others.

Bleicher, J. Contemporary Hermeneutics: Hermeneutics as Method, Philosophy and Critique, London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.

This book is a useful overview of the different forms and uses of hermeneutics.

Blumer, H. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1969.

Blumer’s symbolic interactionism is one interpretive approach the analysis of social phenomena.

Chua, W.F. “Radical Developments in Accounting Thought,” The Accounting Review (61), 1986, pp. 601-632.

A critique and overview of the development of interpretive research in accounting.

Dyer, W.G. Jr. and Wilkins, A.L. “Better Stories, Not Better Constructs, to Generate Better Theory: A Rejoinder to Eisenhardt,” Academy of Management Review (16:3), 1991, pp. 613-619.

A brief rejoinder to Eisenhardt, arguing that “stories” make good social science, not better constructs.

Eisenhardt, K.M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research,” Academy of Management Review (14:4), 1989, pp. 532-550.

Eisenhardt’s suggestions for building better theories from case study research. This article led to Dyer and Wilkins rejoinder above.

Eisenhardt, K.M. “Better Stories and Better Constructs: The Case for Rigor and Comparative Logic,” Academy of Management Review (16:3), 1991, pp. 620-627.

Eisenhardt defends herself against the arguments put forward by Dyer and Wilkins.

Foucault, M. The Archaeology of Knowledge, Tavistock, London, 1972.

Gadamer, H-G. Truth and Method, The Continuing Publishing Corporation, New York, 1975.

This book is a classic in the field of hermeneutics, but could be heavy going for some.

Gadamer, H-G. Philosophical Hermeneutics, California, University of California Press, 1976a.

Gadamer, H-G. “The Historicity of Understanding,” in Critical Sociology, Selected Readings, P. Connerton (ed.), Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, 1976b, pp. 117-133.

For a brief introduction to Gadamer, this excerpt from Gadamer’s work in the selection of readings edited by Connerton is excellent. The excerpt is well chosen and in a few pages summarizes some of the key ideas in Gadamer’s thought.

Garfinkel, H. Studies in ethnomethodology, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1967.

Geertz, C. The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, New York, 1973.

An important contribution to the interpretive perspective in anthropology.

Giddens, A. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structure, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1984.

In this book Giddens outlines his theory of structuration.

Grice, H.P. “Logic and Conversation,” in Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 3, Cole, P. and Morgan, J. (eds.), Academic Press, New York, 1975, p. 41-58.

Heidegger, M. Being and Time, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1962.

Herda, Ellen A. Research Conversations and Narrative: A Critical Hermeneutic Orientation in Participatory Inquiry. Praeger Publishers, Westport, Conn. 1999.

Abstract: This book portrays how participatory inquiry in a critical hermeneutic tradition moves the research process for social scientists from an epistemological place to an ontological event. Part One offers a critique of the technical, intellectual, and advocacy research enterprises and provides the reader a segue to a philosophical and historical discussion of critical hermeneutics. The discussion, in Part Two, lays the foundation for an ontologically-based field research protocol. In Part Three, the questions of research topic, research categories, questions and conversations, selection of participants, entree, background of researcher, data collection and analysis, and learning and community are discussed from a theoretical and applied perspective with examples drawn from selected field projects.

This book draws on works by Ricoeur, Gadamer, Habermas, R. Bernstein and C.A. Bowers. The research conversation based in the notion of “play” marks the researcher and research participants as co-progenitors of the data which when transcribed becomes a text for analysis. This text has the possibility of opening reconfigured worlds in our organizations and communities. The notions of text, narrative, and mimesis are explicated in terms of data analysis with implications for action and social policy. An ontological understanding of language is at the heart of participatory inquiry in a critical hermeneutic tradition. It is through this understanding that we are endowed with the responsibility for creating just institutions.

Husserl, E. Logical investigations, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1970.

Husserl, E. Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy, Kluwer, Boston, 1982.

Krippendorff, K. Content analysis : An introduction to its methodology. Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, 1980.

Kuhn, T. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Second Edition, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970.

Kuhn, T. The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.

As a physicist turned philosopher and historian of science, Kuhn looks at the nature of scientific tradition and change. Kuhn’s discusses the importance of hermeneutics in the preface.

Luthans, F. and Davis, T.R.V. “An Idiographic Approach to Organizational Behavior Research: The Use of Single Case Experimental Designs and Direct Measures,” Academy of Management Review (7:3), July 1982, pp. 380-391.

Morey, N.C. and Luthans, F. “An Emic Perspective and Ethnoscience Methods for Organizational Research,” Academy of Management Review (9:1), January 1984, pp. 27-36.

Mueller-Vollmer, K (ed.) The Hermeneutic Reader, New York: Continuum Publishing, 1988.

This book is a detailed treatment of hermeneutics, including selected articles from prominent hermeneutical scholars. This volume includes essays from the debate between Gadamer and Habermas (a proponent of critical theory).

Nardulli, P.F. The Courtroom Elite: An Organizational Perspective on Criminal Justice, Ballinger Press, Cambridge, MA, 1978.

Palmer, R. Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer. Northwestern University Press, Evanston, 1969.

This is a very readable introduction to and overview of many of the key thinkers in interpretation theory.

Rabinow, P. and Sullivan, W.M (eds.). Interpretive Social Science: A Reader, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.

This book includes interesting articles on hermeneutics and other topics from authors such as Charles Taylor, Paul Ricoeur and Clifford Geertz.

Radnitzky, G. Contemporary Schools of Metascience, Goteborg: Scandinavian University Books, 1970.

Ricoeur, P. The Conflict of Interpretations: Essays in Hermeneutics, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, 1974.

Ricoeur, P. “Hermeneutics: Restoration of Meaning or Reduction of Illusion?” in Critical Sociology, Selected Readings, P. Connerton (ed.), Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, 1976, pp. 194-203.

For a brief introduction to Ricoeur, this excerpt from Ricoeur’s work in the selection of readings edited by Connerton is excellent. The excerpt is well chosen and in a few pages summarizes some of the key ideas in Ricoeur’s thought.

Ricoeur, P. Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1981.

Schutz, A. Collected papers, M. Nijhoff, Hingham, MA, 1982.

Searle, J.R. Expression and Meaning, Studies in the Theory of Speech Acts, Cambridge University Press, London, 1979.

Taylor, C. “Hermeneutics and Politics,” in Critical Sociology, Selected Readings, P. Connerton (ed.), Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, 1976, pp. 153-193.

Thompson, J.B. Critical hermeneutics: A study in the thought of Paul Ricoeur and Jurgen Habermas, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1981.

Tice, T.N. and Slavens, T.P. Research Guide to Philosophy, Chicago: American Library Association, 1983.

This book gives a brief overview of hermeneutics and critical theory in just nine pages (pp. 293-301).

Weber, M. The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, Unwin University Books, London, 1930.

Weber, M. The methodology of the social sciences, Free Press, Glencoe, Ill, 1949.

Whyte, W.F. Street Corner Society: The social structure of an Italian slum, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1943.

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