Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series
Edited by Fergus Lyon, Guido Möllering and Mark N.K. Saunders
Chapter 3: An abductive approach to investigating trust development in strategic alliances
Since the early 1990s, trust research has achieved a certain level of maturity. Numerous empirical studies taking an inductive or deductive approach have contributed to knowledge accumulation and brought greater coherence to the field. For example, on the one hand we see increasing consensus and clarity among scholars concerning the different types of trust that may intervene in business relationships (see for example, Lewicki and Bunker, 1996; McAllister, 1995; Sako, 1992). On the other hand, despite some significant contributions, the elements involved in the creation and development of trust still remain somewhat unclear. We argue, in line with other researchers (Edmondson and McManus, 2007; Patokorpi and Ahvenainen, 2009; Richardson and Kramer, 2006), that purely inductive studies are much less relevant when there is a certain maturity in a research field. Alternatively, a purely deductive approach is limited because data that do not fit into the initial theoretical framework are often excluded from the analysis, inhibiting the potential for new knowledge development (Meyer and Lunnay, 2013). To refine and extend our knowledge about the development of trust we argue that an abductive approach that simultaneously builds on prior research while offering openness to further discovery is a particularly appropriate epistemological choice.
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