The development of theory in the social sciences frequently has been frustrated by the lack of a clear consensus on a number of issues. Among the more divisive are the following: description versus prescription; reflection versus action orientation; deduction versus induction; verifiability versus falsifiability; quantitative versus qualitative; case method versus statistical.
Because of the variety of possible combinations within this list, researchers fall into one or more camps depending on their proclivities and the research issue under discussion. Further polarization is created by the frequent lack of a distinction between two questions: (1) What constitutes a “good” theory? and (2) What is an appropriate methodology for the construction of such a theory? This note discusses these two questions, and suggests some ways to resolve them.
It should be stressed at the outset that there is no “right” (or even “best”) answer to the question of the most appropriate research methodology. There is a need, however, for each researcher to develop a methodological position that he or she believes is appropriate, and can defend as valid and useful. The discussion in this note presents one such position.