The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods provides perspectives on topics relevant to research in the field of business and management
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Journal Article

Employing a Mixed Methods Approach to Benefit Business‑IT Alignment and Levels of Maturity  pp48-61

Sally Eaves

© Dec 2015 Volume 13 Issue 1, Mixed Methods, Editor: Ros Cameron, pp1 - 61

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Abstract: This paper examines the design, implementation, benefits and challenges of employing a mixed methods research approach with the aim to provide an emergent, integrative and multi‑layered perspective on Business‑IT alignment influences and maturit y measurement. The application of mixed methods is underutilised in this domain and it is opined that it can serve to elucidate this perennial, but often elusive, core objective of senior management. It also begins to redress the predominance of quantitat ive studies and the frequent application of tools and techniques in isolation, not combination. The case of a leading UK Communications Service Provider in a two year period of joint venture integration provides a transformational context for examination, with a methodological focus. It is argued that mixed methods can achieve a mutually supporting depth and breadth of coverage that is appropriate to complex and multifaceted phenomena such as Business‑IT alignment and facilitates consideration of both pr ocess and outcomes. A transparently presented two phased, sequential exploratory and emergent design is adopted, with embedded integration. This is underpinned by a reflexive and intelligent‑action orientated pragmatic lens. Innovative use of observation, photography, interviews, focus groups and survey data are synthesised to unfold the Business‑IT alignment relationship, whilst the Strategic Alignment Maturity Model supports incremental maturity evaluation. The approach facilitates a responsive, integr ative, pluralistic and holistic evaluation of alignment and maturity measurement, moving beyond traditional snapshot techniques. It encourages reflexive, in situ surfacing of core themes and builds cumulative insight into the fluctuating impact of events, interventions and culture. The design benefits data richness, elaboration, validation, illustration and the identification of situated knowledge regarding enablers, inhibitors and interdependencies. Further, a robust and repeatable assessment of maturity can be achieved to support benchmarking and


Keywords: Keywords: Mixed Methods Research, Business-IT Alignment, Strategic Alignment Maturity Model, SAMM, Strategic Alignment, Joint Venture, Communications Sector


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Journal Issue

Volume 5 Issue 1 / Jul 2007  pp1‑36

Editor: Ann Brown

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For Business Schools and management departments, research methods are emerging as a subject not only as a core for staff and business students at all levels but also of increasing complexity. The subject is ramifying into a number of separate but related issues. The four papers in this issue of EJBRM reflect a number of these current concerns:

The quality and nature of business and management research methods and the practical value of the results achieved (Coldwell)

The scale and nature of the ethical responsibility of organizations, researchers and students (Lindorff, Naimi)

The training and supervision of doctoral candidates (Iqbal)

Coldwell argues that although truly causally adequate explanation is beyond the capacity of social science and management research and that adequate explanation on the level of meaning also is, at best, problematical, nonetheless it is possible to adopt a methodological approach that is capable of producing practically useable research outcomes. He proposes a methodology based on critical realism and offers considerable help in the practical steps to be taken when following this approach.

Two papers consider ethical issues in business research and teaching (Lindorff, Naimi). Lindorff is concerned with researchers’ ethical obligations to participants in their research. She presents a fairly bleak view of current practice, contrasting the comparatively indifferent attitude of almost all published business research with the central role that ethical practice takes within medical and psychology research methods literature. Her view that business researchers lack training on this aspect of research is neatly met by Naimi’s paper. This paper argues that we live in a cheating culture and claims that there has been a decline in ethical conduct and “right thinking” in society today. It proposes that universities need to incorporate modules on ethics into their degree courses and suggests some of the topics that such courses might include.

Iqbal provides a road map for the process of writing a suitable doctoral proposal. He is particularly concerned with the range of choices facing the new candidate at each step of the proposal. He offers a structured approach for navigating these decisions based on his own experience.


Keywords: adequacy at the level of meaning, alignment, beneficence, business, case study, causal adequacy, critical realism, dialectical triangulation, dualism, enterprise integration, ethics, evidence-based research, framework, grounded research, imponderable evidence, informed consent, justice, metadata interoperability, methodological triangulation, phenomenology, piecemeal social engineer, postgraduate study, research ethics, research proposal, respect for persons, social sciences


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