National Academies Press: OpenBook

Enhancing Human Performance: Background Papers, Social Processes (1988)

Chapter: Appendix A: Some Notes of Further Methodological Research

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Some Notes of Further Methodological Research." National Research Council. 1988. Enhancing Human Performance: Background Papers, Social Processes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/786.
Page 131
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Some Notes of Further Methodological Research." National Research Council. 1988. Enhancing Human Performance: Background Papers, Social Processes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/786.
Page 132

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APPENDIX A: SOME NOTES OF FURTHER METHODOLOG] CAL RESEARCH An empirical application of Schein's model of organizational culture poses a number of methodological problems. First, the research is required to develop a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the artifacts of the organization.24 Second, a fairly intimate acquaintance with a number of members of the organization representing its various subgroups is needed in order to understand their views beliefs, and values. Finally, interpreting basic assumptions requires that the researcher be in a position to interpret matters that are not easily accessible to most member -- they are unconscious, tacit, or unarticulated. All require context sensitive first hand involvement. In other words, qualitative research is called for. In our view, two types of qualitative research address the methodological problems posed by the theoretical framework: clinical and ethnographic study. The former is outlined in detail in Schein (1985). In essence, the researchers engage in a form of action- research where the problems and the research process are jointly defined with "the client. n The purpose is to help the client solve practical problems. In the course of such research the researchers periodically visit the organization and may engage in extensive individual and group interviews, as well as offer the client organizational feedback. The feedback analysis process generates more data for research. One possible tool for cultural diagnosis in the context of such study is the "Cultural Diagnosis Questionnaire" outline 24. In this short discussion of research methodology we will refer all level of analysis (military, regimental, or cohort group etc.) to a generic name -- organization. 42

by Schein t1985). Ethnographic study has a different emphasis. In it, the researcher takes a passive observational role that is typically more extended and is often based on participant-observation. Ideally, the researcher joins the organization for long period of time. The purpose it to collect data in order to write a comprehensive description of the culture, or aspects of it. Feedback and intervention do not typically occur in the course of the study, and the outcome from the organization's point of view is a final report. Comparative study is possible: for example, two units might be studied simultaneously. The two approaches have different advantages. Clinical research is usually less Labor intensive." It is suited to a managerial or a command perspective, and allows a focus on specific managerial practical dilemmas. When properly done, it is often experienced as helpful by members of the organization. Ethnographic research requires heavier time commitments. A period of at last eight months of observation is recommended. This type of research tend to focus on the lower levels of organization, with an emphasis on description and analysis of the everyday life of members. It allows the researcher to witness events that might be crucial in understanding "what is really going on." Some combination of both types of research might be possible. 43

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