Edited by Mélanie E. Hassett and Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki
Chapter 11: How to escape an unprocessual legacy? A viewpoint from international business research
Process research consists of a multitude of processual layers: the research topic, such as the internationalization process used as an example in this chapter; the aim and the research question; the theoretical framework; the methods of data collection and analysis; the data, the setting and context; and the conclusions and contribution. Doing a process study is not a simple task, for two reasons that we will be focusing on in this chapter. Firstly, researchers can find it challenging to ‘tune into’ process research due to the legacy of the variance-oriented training which is still the norm in business schools. In this chapter, we illustrate this challenge by means of an example from an international business thesis project, where the researcher (the first author) began a process study with an implicit naïve positivist stance, only later waking up to the unintended variance-oriented thinking in the study and redirecting it towards a process approach. Secondly, there are many points during a study when process can be lost: the research question can be formulated in variance-based terms, or the process nature of the phenomenon being studied can be overlooked when making the choice of theory, data, analytical tools or reporting style. We illustrate the many ways in which process can be relinquished by means of a recent literature review on the internationalization process of the firm: a processual phenomenon which traditionally has not been studied processually.
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