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In 1960, this separation began to change. "Economists began to study voters as rational maximizers, politicians as entrepreneurs, and bureaucrats as suppliers in a market-like process of consumption, production and exchange. Political science has been profoundly affected by the outward thrust from economics, addressing as it has central issues in the discipline of political science" (p. 1173).
Miller (1997) concludes that the most unambiguous benefit of economics on contemporary political science is methodological. He notes that previous research performed by Downs, Arrow, Olson, and a variety of others brought a new rigor to the discipline, with the added prestige of microeconomics. As Miller notes, "why should political actors be less rational than other humans?" (p. 1199). Although Downs original intent was to reveal the market-like mechanistic underpinnings of the political world, the interactions are more complex in the political world. Exchanges between producers/politicians and consumers/voters, with the presence of market-like competition are not as smooth and seamless.
Issues in Empirical Field Studies of Organizational Routines
Pentland and Feldman (n.d.) not tha the most common units of analysis in organizational research are individuals, groups, organizations, and establishments. The clear boundaries of these units make them observable, comparable, distinguishable, and countable. Organizational routines, on the other hand, are more difficult to observe, compare, distinguish, and count. With this in mind, the researchers reflect on the problems of studying organizational routines. The authors connect their discussion to other empirical field studies that have centered on furthering the understanding of organizational routines. This is accomplished through the focus of two basic issues: identification and comparison.
Identification involves recognizing empirical instances of a routine, the parts as well as the whole. Comparision can be cross-sectional (involving different routines), or longitudinal (involving changes in the same routine over time). Together, identification and comparison form the foundation for all empirical work on routines (Pentland and Feldman, 1997, p. 2).
Most interestingly, the authors note that field studies of organizational routines demonstrate the 'messiness' of the real world. This messiness is both a strength and a weakness in field studies. Although the complexities of the real world add challenges to the comparison of organizational routines. However, this complexity also forces researchers in the field to "confront the inadequacies of any system of concepts and to develop new concepts that allow us to see new things. This process opens up new worlds of both understandings and questions" (p. 25).
A Confessional Account of Ethnography about Knowledge Work
Schultze (2000) notes that traditionally information systems research has focused on information as an object that is utilized as a decision-making input. This perspective primarily focuses on the use of this information. However, organizations are increasingly concerned with information production. As such, Schultze focuses on the production of informational objects, which is key to knowledge work. Using an eight-month ethnographic study of three knowledge worker groups, the researcher explores the informing practices the worker groups relied upon. These worker groups included: competitive intelligence analysts, computer system administrators, and librarians. Three practices were identified: ex-pressing, monitoring and translating. The knowledge worker was found to strive toward balancing objectivity and subjectivity, with subjectivity recognized as an integral part of performing value adding work. Objectivity was found to promise workers the authority, as well as a sense of security.
Ex-pressing involved converting subjective insights and individual knowledge into informational objects. Schultze (2000) found that there were no differences in this informing practice between the information knowledge worker groups and the ethnographer. Monitoring involved gathering information in an unobtrusive means. The CI analysts reluctantly asked questions, so as not to influence answers and give away information. The ethnographer waited for events to unfold. This demonstrated a difference between how this practice was applied, with the CI analysts monitoring the external environment, and the ethnographer monitored internally as a means of not pushing the research agenda. The third practice of translating involves creating information through manipulation and transferring across various realms until a coherent meaning is derived. Once again, there were no differences found between the knowledge worker groups and the ethnographer.
Case Study Crisis: Some Answers
Yin (1981) presents a reply to Miles' 1979 article entitled, "Qualitative Data as an Attractive Nuisance." Yin strives to reaffirm the case study's role as a valuable systematic research tool. Miles expressed issues with case analysis as being "essentially intuitive, primitive, and unmanageable (and...) qualitative research on organizations cannot be expected to transcend story-telling" (cited p. 58). Yin shows Miles the respect he deserves as a noted researcher who has been frequently cited for his early contributions to the study of organizational innovation, in the mid-1960s. However, Yin asserts that although there are major improvements that need to be made in case study research, it is an acceptable craft that has already emerged.
Despite Miles' assertions, Yin (1981) demonstrates that case studies can be systematically conducted. Yin acknowledges that Miles is correct, that as the time of the article, "that the available methodological textbooks emphasize fieldwork and not case study design or analysis" (p. 64). However, Miles fails to cite the text by Barzun and Graff entitled Modern Researcher. This text outlines key guidelines for case study researchers. Although this text focuses on historical, as opposed to contemporary, events, Yin surmises that case study practice can be improved in the future by applying what is previously known.
One particular point Yin (1981) disagrees with Miles is informants reactions to case study results. Yin states that Miles' example confuses the reaction to aggregate evidence vs. individual evidence. Yin states,
In actuality, when survey respondents are given the results of their own interview and shown how these results have been interpreted by the researcher, similarly hostile reactions may also occur. (…) in summary, peopl are less likely to react adversely whenever they are confronted with individualized data, but are likely to be more tolerant when confronted with aggregate data; this set of reactions occurs whether case studies, surveys, or other research strategies are used (p. 64).
Journal Entry #5 -- Relevance of Substantive Area for Public Administration or Policy:
Substantive area research strives to understand the politics that underlie a specific area of public policy. As an example, this can include: education, health, natural resources, transportation, or foreign policy. Most of the work that has been completed in this tradition of research has been comprised primarily of detailed and largely atheoretical case studies. Sabatier (1991) cites several examples of this type of work. These include Derthick's 1979 work on social security, Moynihan's 1970 work on anti-poverty programs, and Bailey and Mosher's 1968 study on educational federal aid.
These types of studies are beneficial to both practitioners and policy activists. They also provide potentially useful information for the building of inductive theory, according to Sabatier (1991). In regards to the profession of public administration in general, Sabatier asserts that substantive research "is less useful than theoretical case studies" (p. 144).
Journal Entry #6 -- Primary Sources for Substantive Investigation, Strengths, Weaknesses:
The primary sources for substantive investigation include both published and unpublished documents. Published documents include: scholarly journals, magazines, books, and more. When investigating a particular theory, these often include original research reports that are authored by the original researcher or researchers. Unpublished documents may include journals, personal letters, wills, financial documents, business documents, and a variety of other documents that are not released to the general public.
The primary strength of primary sources is the increased likelihood that these sources will be accurate. A primary source is information reported by the direct party involved in the research or situation. Therefore it is less likely that the information will be distorted then if another party relays the information, as is found with secondary sources. However, there is the potential still for author bias with primary sources, which is a weakness. As Pappas (2011) notes, every "creator has a point-of-view, blind spots, and biases."
Journal Entry #7 -- Benefits of Qualitative Methodologies for Public Administration:
Qualitative methodologies typically fall into four different categories -- participant observation, direct observation, unstructured interviewing, and case studies. Each of these types of methods offer benefits to public administration. Qualitative research explores issues and answers questions by looking at several focal points. These include: what people say; what people mean, need or desire; what people do; and culture. Qualitative methodologies are geared to discover why a phenomena occurs ("What is qualitative," 2007). By understanding why something occurs, this can be then addressed through public policy, to either further facilitate the action or correct the action.
"Qualitative research is used to gain insight into people's attitudes, behaviors, values systems, concerns, motivations, aspirations, culture or lifestyles" ("What is qualitative," 2007). This is exactly the type of information valuable in public administration. Selecting an appropriate research method, which is a set of systematic procedures a research uses to gather information, is critical to ensure the appropriate information is gathered, in regards to the resources and time the researcher has available.…[continue]
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