||The goal of social scientific research is to classify organizational communicative phenomena, measure them, and construct statistical models to explain the phenomena.
||The goal of interpretive research is a complete, detailed description of the organizational communication phenomenon examined.
||The goal of critical research is to examine how organizations exists in a world of power imbalances.
|View of Organizations
||Organizations are naturally existing phenomena open to description, prediction, and control.
||Organizations are social entities with day-to-day talk, rites, rituals, and stories that develop its own unique culture that has aspects that are similar to other cultures.
||Organizations are inherently places of power imbalances. Workers are typically subjugated by superiors who have implicit or expressed power.
||Social Scientific researchers have a very clear idea what they are examining at the start of a research study.
||Interpretive researchers generally only have a vague idea of what they are looking for at the start of a research study and prefer to view organizational phenomena from the viewpoint of their participants.
||Critical researchers generally select artifacts from organizations or about organizations and analyze those artifacts in an effort to see how power is communicated and utilized within an organization.
||Social Scientific research designs are very carefully planned before the data are ever collected.
||Interpretive research designs develop over the course of data collection.
||Critical researchers can follow very stringent ways of analyzing artifacts or create the ways of analysis while examining the data.
|Tools of Research
||Scientific/quantitative researchers use a variety of measurement devices (e.g., questionnaires) as the primary tool of data collection.
||Interpretive/qualitative researchers collect their data themselves through interviews and observation, so the researcher is the primary tool of data collection.
||Rhetorical/critical researchers do not need data sources beyond the act (an actual communication event) or artifact (the record of a communication event) being analyzed.
||Numbers and statistics are the primary forms of data. Writing tends to be very formal.
||Words, pictures, and artifacts are the primary forms of data. Writing tends to be very narrative.
||Acts and artifacts are the primary forms of data. Writing tends to be narrative.
||Social Scientific research tends to be more succinct, quickly conducted, and can be generalized to larger groups than the sample utilized in the study.
||Interpretive research tends to be more detailed, time consuming, and limited to the group the researcher studied.
||Critical research tends to be detailed in its analysis, but the findings should help researchers understand organizational communication in an effort to move towards egalitarian power structures.
|View of Research
||Social Scientific research is more objective and you are able to achieve a more detached view of the communication phenomena.
||Interpretive research is more subjective and you are able to achieve an insider’s point-of-view of the communication phenomena.
||Critical research is also highly subjective to the individual point of view of the critic. As such, critics with differing political persuasions will view the same acts and artifacts in differing ways.
|Purpose of Theory
||Scientific/quantitative researchers view theory as the guiding metaphor for research. As such, research starts with theoretical ideas, poses hypotheses, tests them, and makes revisions to the theory.
||Interpretive/qualitative data collection ends with the creation of hypotheses and the generation of theory.
||Theory can either guide a critical study or be arrived at through the process of analyzing an artifact.
||A lot of social scientific research is prescription based and looks at skills people need to have in modern organizations. However, the researcher is ultimately responsible for which skills are analyzed. Furthermore, there tends to be little research examining skills interculturally.
||Interpretive research is often very subjective. Furthermore, there is a serious debate as to whether the information gained from one organization can or should impact how we view another organization.
||Critical research is often very subjective and open to interpretation based on one’s political persuasion. Furthermore, critical research tends to err on the side of those without power and are in the minority, so the innate political bias can be problematic for some.