Research Methods Into Positivism And Community Constructivism

There has been heated discussion over the use of positivism and communal constructivism in general management research within the last few ages. And one can find that almost all of the theorists have a neutral view with regard to this situation. After the 1980s there has been a trend towards interpersonal constructivism but even then no one is sticking completely to the concepts of one sole philosophy.

The main idea behind positivism is the fact society can be an external agent and therefore its properties or characteristics must be measured objectively alternatively than by any subjective means like intuition, discomfort etc. This view was initially proposed by French theorist Auguste Comte (1853) according to whom "All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but that which is based on observable facts". Hence his view has two main assumptions i. e. reality is exterior and objective and knowledge is based upon observations of this reality. Thus there are specific postulates of this philosophy

Independence: The researcher must be 3rd party in his thoughts and it is not affected by any factors while watching the reality.

Value-freedom: This involves deciding upon the region to be researched and how to review it. Positivism implies doing this based on objective research and not on human values.

Causality: The main objective of sociable and behavioral sciences is to judge the complexities and fundamental regulations behind the fluctuations in the behavioral routine of people.

Hypothesis and deduction: every research will be based on certain hypothesis and the observations will be produced to either prove or disprove this hypothesis statement.

Operationalization: The research principles must be created in such a way that the facts obtained from observations can be assessed empirically.

Reductionism: This concept believes that a bigger problem will be easy to solve if it is divided into smaller elements that can be separately resolved.

Generalization: In order to make standard conclusions on fluctuations in real human behavior, it is essential that the research must be conducted among examples of appropriate size. On the basis of results from the test size, the researcher can make wider judgments on the whole population.

Cross-sectional analysis: This sort of regularities can be easily discovered by assessing the distinctions in the examples.

All the aforementioned given implications will be the collective view details of different theorists of positivism. But there were many theorists who had been having contrasting viewpoints on these postulates too. Even Comte had not been helping the reductionism concept. Wittgenstein suggested in his previous studies that all factual motives can be divided into smaller elementary propositions that were entirely independent from each other. He himself later challenged this theory arguing that elementary propositions can be logically related to each other (Pears, 1971). Thus this idea is under an unending argument on the list of theorists. Aiken (1956) developed the view that positivism is the simplest way to determine the behavioral habits in human beings which may be originated as a result of metaphysical speculation.

The idea of public constructivism on the other hands was developed predicated on the works of Berger and Luckman (1966), Watzlawick (1984) and Shotter (1993). This viewpoint is based upon idea that individuals use terminology as a medium for posting their experiences and it is through this way, they make sense of the world. Hence this theory advises that individuals form, create and make themselves and their worlds by means of the verbal skills. It really is more concerned about the procedure and product individuals' way of interacting with each other (Leeds-Hurwitz, 1995). It is considered as social because it focuses on the interaction as opposed to the individual.

Hence even though there are present a dichotomy between the two philosophies, there exists a high difference in thoughts and opinions among the analysts about selecting methods. Therefore a number of compromising has to be done between both of these philosophies in order to conduct a research.

Figure: Matrix of research designs


Survey research

Case method


Quasi-experimental design


Positivist Social

Grounded theory