Still, they published their theory in a coauthored work and there were not large differences in the overall theory at this point (Hart & Gregor 2005).
As the two scholars' careers diverged, however, they continued to develop their thinking on grounded theory independently from each other. What has become known as the Glaserian approach (developed, of course, by Barney Glaser) stresses the non-prescriptive nature of inquiries that occur utilizing grounded theory, with much broader categories of conceptualizations inherent to this version of the theory (Hart & Gregor 2005). Glaser also asserted that rigorous verification methods, such as might be more typical in the traditional scientific method, were suitably applied only to a very few of the central theoretical hypotheses that developed in the course of a grounded theory inquiry, which was another aspect of the Glaserian grounded theory that makes it more open to adjustment from the observations themselves and an incredibly non-prescriptive research method (Manteuffel 2009).
The Straussian mode of conducting grounded theory research -- the theory that Strauss developed along with other collaborators later in is own academic career -- is much more rigid in its method of coding categories as they arise through observation, and also asserts that more rigorous verification methods are necessary for these codings (Hart & Gregor 2005; Manteuffel 2009). This makes the Straussian version of grounded theory far more prescriptive than the Glaserian version, and Glaser has actually gone so far as to say that, while Strauss' research methodology has merits of its own, it is not truly grounded theory anymore (Manteuffel 2009). Some side wholly with either one or the other researcher, while others find that the two different approaches have differing utilities in various applications (Hart & Gregor 2005).
Current Applications for Grounded Theory
Grounded theory was first developed or discovered in the 1960s, with the joint publication by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss of the theory in its original form occurring in 1967 (Borgatti 2010). The schism between the researchers did not occur until relatively recently, and came most explicitly with Glaser's 1992 publication of a commentary on Strauss' recent book, co-authored by Juliet Corbin, which came out in 1990 (Hart & Gregor 2005). These facts relay far more information than the mere scientific disagreement that cam eto exist between two colleagues that nonetheless retained a great deal of respect and even affection for each other; they also denote the great deal of importance and relevance that grounded theory -- in whatever version one subscribes to -- has in modern research.
According to Glaser, there is virtually no limit to the research questions towards which grounded theory can be applied; while Strauss believed the method to be by its very nature a qualitative research method, and thus suitable only to qualitatively framed questions, Glaser insists that it can be used quantitatively with equal effect, and that all that is needed for grounded theory to operate is the ability to make observations in the identified area of research (Rhine 2009). Glaser does suggest, however, that grounded theory is especially useful in research areas where other methodologies have been attempted and have failed, particularly in health sciences applications and in studies of business and management (Manteuffel 2009). This still leaves a very wide range of possible applications.
Strauss, as might be inferred from the brief description of his take on grounded theory provided above, finds that the suitable applications for grounded theory are more limited than what Glaser suggests. He limits the use of grounded theory to purely qualitative investigations, and especially to those that are related to human experience and other matters of great subjectivity that are inherently and adamantly resistant to quantification (Manteuffel 2009). Thus, the Straussian version of grounded theory is more applicable to individuals themselves rather than to organizations or even interactions that are composed of multiple individuals (Hart & Gregor 2005). Though the applications for grounded theory are not as broad or as varied in this view as they are in Glaser's, the Straussian model is still utilized in many person-based inquiries with great effect (Charmaz 2006).
Kathy Charmaz (2006) is one modern researcher that has utilized grounded theory throughout her research career, and to great effect; much of her research has focused on chronically ill patients and both the qualitative issues associated with chronic illness (i.e. The experience of being chronically ill) as well as certain more quantifiable aspects, including treatment efficacy and the self-reported levels of suffering that are associated with chronic and/or terminal diagnoses (Charmaz 2006; Strauss & Corbin 1997). This is only one basic field of research in which grounded theory can be applied, yet even within this one rather specific field there are a multitude of research questions that can and have been addressed with this research method (Strauss & Corbin 1997). Of course, these research questions were not explicitly defined beforehand, in keeping with the tenets of the theory.
As Glaser suggests, there are also a wide variety of applications for grounded theory found in business and management issues, and in broader organizational studies overall (Manteuffel 2009). The technique is actually highly useful for diagnosing and subsequently addressing problems in many organizations precisely because it does not depend on predetermined research questions, which necessarily limit the scope of investigation and thus somewhat "identify" organizational issues before the research has even begun (Dick 2005). Rather than framing the issue(s) in an organization prior to the commencement of research, grounded theory allows for the problems and other details of an organization to emerge through open-ended questioning and thus can identify and tackle issues from a variety of perspectives, developing a more comprehensive and ultimately more effective view of the problems within an organization rather than going through a trial-and-error process of problem identification through traditional research methods (Dick 2005).
The continued relevance and usefulness of grounded theory is the primary testament to its strength as a research methodology. Though not as widely known or as widely accepted as the scientific method, it continues to gain credence and attract adherents from a wide variety of scientific and research backgrounds. While not supplanting other research methods, it certainly adds a great deal of valuable insight to any area in which it is applied.
Borgatti, S. (2010). "Introduction to grounded theory." Accessed 6 November 2010. http://www.analytictech.com/mb870/introtoGT.htm
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: a practical guide. London: Sage.
Dick, B. (2005). "Grounded theory: a thumbnail sketch." Accessed 6 November 2010. http://www.scu.edu.au/schools/gcm/ar/arp/grounded.html
Hart, D. & Gregor, S. (2005). Information systems foundations constructing and criticizing. Accessed 6 November 2010. http://epress.anu.edu.au/info_systems/mobile_devices/index.html
Manteuffel, K. (2009). "An introduction to grounded theory." Accessed 6 November 2010. http://gtm.vlsm.org/gnm-gtm.en.html
Rhine, J. (2009). "What is grounded theory?" Accessed 6…