Management Research Methods and Approaches

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The type of methodology and approach picked by the researcher can determine the success of any research. In management studies, for instance, the impact of the findings depends on the appropriateness and the rigor of the research method applied. The conclusion drawn on a research finding depends on a number design factors such as instrumentation, construct validation, and data analysis, among other factors (Matos & Esposito, 2014). Even though there are many perspectives in the management epistemology, the functional and the symbolic interactive perspective have become common in the management research.

Functional Perspective

The functional perspective is based on the belief that a system is made up of parts that work together to create harmony (William & Scandura, 2000). In this perspective, an organization is seen as a complex system made up of functional components.

Symbolic Interactive Perspective

The symbolic interactive perspective is borrowed from social and humanistic sciences such as sociology and psychology. The symbolic interactive perspective is the basis for qualitative research in the change management. The perspective emphasizes on the images created by people based on their observations. The approach is used to analyze how people develop symbolic worlds and how the worlds can shape their behaviors.

In a study by Stuart Klein (1996) titled “a management communication strategy for change," the approach used is both symbolic interactive and functional approach. From a functional perspective, Klein (1996) argues that communication is essential in bringing about smooth coordination between the different departments within an organization. The departments within an organization can be treated as the functional units that must work together to achieve the overall objective of the organization.

The entire change process has to be communicated to all the departments, which are functional units of any organization. The paper focuses on the communication within departments and then findings can then be extended to the entire organization since the organization is a system made up of functional parts.

From a symbolic interactive perspective, the research also gives information on how communication can be used to create an impression within an organization. An organization with efficient communication process can easily undergo a change process without any hindrances.

In an article by Paula Matos and Mark Espositos (2014), the focus is on how communication nature can influence the resistance to change in an organization. The research uses symbolic interactive perspective since it seeks to explore how people react to a communication process and how the reaction can then be applied to the change process. The symbolic interactive perspective is about the way people form impressions based on the images they interact within their daily operations.

A suitable communication process within an organization is an indication of an organization that is well organized. According to Matos and Espositos (2014), organizations that have excellent communication process can quickly go through a change management process. On the other hand, organizations with poor communication strategies may experience resistance to change.


The success of management research depends on the approach and methodology selected by the researchers. In change management, for instance, the most commonly used methods and methods include the functional approach and the symbolic interactional approach. The former emphasizes on the fact that a system is made up of functional parts that must work together to create balance. On the other hand, the symbolic interactive perspective focuses on how people use symbols to form impressions.


Matos, P. & Esposito, M. (2014). Improving change management: how communication nature influences resistance to change. Journal of Management Development. 33(4): 324-341

Sulkowski, L. (2010). Two Paradigms in Management Epistemology. Journal of Intercultural Management. 2(1): 109–119

Stuart, M. K (1996). A management communication strategy for change. Journal of Organizational Change Management. 9(2): 32-46.

William, E. & Scandura, T. (2000). Research Methodology in Management: Current Practices, Trends, and Implications for Future Research. Academy of Management Journal. 43(6): 1248-1264.

January 19, 2024

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Management Workforce

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