INTRODUCTION Deriving from the evaluative nature of the research and the aim of designing a case study methodology for analysing firm behaviour from an operant perspective, Chapter 3 explicitly articulates and follows a prestructured research design framework (Miles and Huberman 1994). Undergirding the entire project is a research strategy nested deeply within a set of ontological, epistemological and methodological a priori assumptions (Guba and Lincoln 1994) out of which flow all subsequent research decisions from design to interpretation (Bryman and Bell 2007). These assumptions allow for greater analytical depth (Nightingale 2008), amplify the range of questions that may be asked (Foxall 2009) and lead to greater theoretical cohesion. This study embraces operant behaviourism as its research paradigm, and this chapter aims to account for all the research decisions taken to conduct research from such a perspective. Such explicit formulations throughout enhance the credibility of the study (Miles and Huberman 1994), ensure its plausibility (Foxall 2009) and minimise error and bias (Yin 2003) by exposing, as transparently as possible, the entire framework used for collecting, analysing and interpreting the data. By documenting each stage and related considerations or decisions explicitly, a full audit trail is created (Mason 2002; Yin 2003), cementing validity and reliability (Yin 2003). OPERANT BEHAVIOURISM Founded and developed by B.F. Skinner (1904–90), mainly as a critique and alternative to realist methodological behaviourism, operant behaviourism is the philosophy of science supporting operant psychology (or behaviour analysis), which is the (natural) science of human behaviour. The purpose of such...
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