Andrew M. Pettigrew, 1990

hardtofindcurtainUrban and Civil

Nov 16, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Andrew M. Pettigrew, 1990


Reveal the author's theory of method for conducting
longitudinal field research on change

In 1990, organizational research did not include much

research on the what, why and how of
organizations in action

Social sciences: some charting of longitudinal

Context and challenge

Lessons learned at Centre for Corporate Strategy and
Change (University of Warwick)

major study on NHS
using comparative case study method

: link the content, contexts and
processes of change over time to explain the
differential achievement of change objectives


(S. Pepper, 1942)

Include both multilevel or vertical analysis and

horizontal analysis

Why? Current research on organization change:

Lacks temporal and contextual dimensions

Focuses on intricacies of narrow changes rather than holistic and
dynamic analysis


theory emphasizes:

Studying change in the context of changes at other levels of analysis

Importance of revealing temporal interconnectedness

a search to
catch reality in flight

Considering context and action together

Five major research strategy issues

1) What is time?

What is the meaning of time?

What does change mean?

When should you stop and start collecting data?

How can you judge outcomes in a change process?

Time is both a chronology and a social construct

Choice of research sites

What to look for:

Extreme situations and social dramas

Polar types and new patterns

High experience levels of the phenomena under study

Be informed. Increase the chance of gaining access. Do
a low cost study of the key players in the sector first.

Observation and Verification

ideal fieldworker
has the following skills:

Good listener



Socially and politically skilled

Writing and presentation

Observation and Verification

Collect data which is

(an emphasis on
action as well as structure over time), comparative,
pluralist, historical and contextual

Vary observation approach with interviews,
documents, observation

Don’t go native!

Remember: research is reciprocal

Research outputs, audience and

Certain things must be crystal clear:

Achievable research outputs and their sequence

Intended audiences

This clarity is a
crucial part
of motivating research
staff and respondents through extended periods of
data collection and analysis


longitudinal research can be exhausting for
both researchers and the host organization!

Four levels of output

The case as analytical chronology
(early days)

Case history characterized by temporal presentation

The diagnostic case

Add analysis of organization's current strategy concerns

The interpretative/theoretical case
(years 2 & 3)

Link emerging conceptual ideas to stronger analytical themes

Link empirical findings to other published empirical data

Meta level analysis across cases
(years 2 & 3)

Cross case analysis and link findings to wider body of literature

1 and 2 keep motivation high for 3 and 4!

Routes to reality

Big challenge: capturing the complexities of the real
world and making sense of it

Death by data asphyxiation

“[N]o release from the overwhelming weight of
information … the slow and inexorable sinking into the
swimming pool which started so cool, clear and inviting
and now has become a clinging mass of maple syrup.”

Avoiding data asphyxiation

Be clear about research objectives

Be clear about the unit of analysis and study questions

Make explicit your theory of method and analytical

Identify analytic themes which cut across the data

Use techniques of data reduction

Make explicit the varieties and sequencing of research

Lessons for future researchers

Gathering and using highly sensitive information
about long
term processes of strategic choice

Research is a craft, but researchers are also in the




Free choice of participation

Tape recording with consent

The host organization

Great demands placed on the host organization

Offer to run a "research in action” workshop

Forward all publications to the host prior to

Respect sensitive information

Major disagreements over interpretation are always a

Managing researchers

Leadership and

framework are critical

A policy
relevant research idea and a champion

Span disciplines to avoid myopia

Ideal group size 10

Director: create a culture of high performance

Give attention to personal development of staff

Remember: publications can be delivered during and
not just at the end of longitudinal work