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Toward Polycontextually Sensitive Research Methods

24 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2007  

Debra L. Shapiro

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business

Mary Ann Von Glinow

Florida International University

Zhixing Xiao

China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)

Abstract

In this paper we introduce the concept of 'polycontextuality', which refers to multiple and qualitatively different contexts embedded within one another. We distinguish polycontextuality from the singularly contextual types of description typically provided by social scientists, and use the case of China to elucidate polycontextual phenomena. Polycontextuality can include verbal- and non-verbal nuances whose understanding is rooted in local, cognitive, emotional and even spiritual references - most of which cannot be easily observed or historically studied. For this reason we recommend the polycontexual sensitive research method to supplement the scientific deductive research typically designed to study observable phenomena based on a singular context (e.g. verbal) that are controllable by the researcher's stimuli and/or measures. Actions for increasing scholars' polycontextual sensitivity are suggested, and guidelines for the scholar interested in doing high quality indigenous research are offered, using the case of China for illustrative purposes.

Suggested Citation

Shapiro, Debra L. and Von Glinow, Mary Ann and Xiao, Zhixing, Toward Polycontextually Sensitive Research Methods. Management and Organization Review, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 129-152, March 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=963843 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-8784.2007.00058.x

Debra L. Shapiro (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States
(301) 405.9781 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/management/faculty/shapiro.html

Mary Ann Von Glinow

Florida International University ( email )

University Park
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
United States

Zhixing Xiao

China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) ( email )

Shanghai-Hongfeng Road
Shanghai 201206
Shanghai 201206
China

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