After discussing the use of early warning systems in building industry, this chapter analyzes the research philosophies and methodologies or strategies that have been used to research the topic. Research philosophy is a critical role of the research methodologies and strategies. It is classified as epistemology, ontology, and axiology. According to Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009), these approaches help in deciding the approach research ought to adopt and reason as derived from the research question. The crucial assumptions exist in the research philosophy, which brings out the researchers view in regards to the world. These assumptions will help in determining the research strategy as well as the methods to be applied in the early warning system to prevent harm in the building industry. The different types of applicable research philosophies that will be used in the chapter are the ontology, epistemology, critical realism, positivism, interpretive philosophy, and pragmatism.
They are the hypothesis about the nature of reality and tends to shape the perception and the study of the research objects, in the building industry. These may include the stakeholders in the building project, the artifacts and the working lives of the individuals involved. Ontology involves the view of the world in a building industry perspective and thus choosing what to research on. The fundamental aspect of objectivism in ontology depicts that social objects continue or exist in reality that is external to the social actors (Layder, 2005). The subjectivism deals with the social phenomenon that is formed the views and results of the social actors that are concerned with their presence. Identifying of the ontology in the research on harm in the building industry aids in determining the research design to be applied. According to Tashakkori and Teddlie (2010), ontology uses the quantitative methodology where the researchers perceive that reality is tangible and single whereas the qualitative researchers perceive reality as constructed and therefore multiple.
According to (Burrell and Morgan 1979), this is the hypothesis about the knowledge, including, the legitimate and valid knowledge, and mode of conveying the knowledge to others. Unlike in ontology, the epistemology is multidisciplinary whereby different forms of knowledge, textual, numeric, visual, facts and interpretations are regarded as legitimate. It offers a variety of methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative. The epistemology assumptions are understood to aid in relating the choice of methods to be applied, the weaknesses and strengths of the subsequent results or findings. For instance, in a positivist hypothesis, the objective realities or facts bring out the accurate scientific proof which aids in choosing the quantitative research methods. The findings are grouped into generalizable or objective.
The connection between the researcher and the context of what is being researched, in a quantitative model, they are both perceived as independent. In a qualitative model, they viewed as interactive and inseparable (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2010). Nevertheless, despite the diversity of knowledge, it is the researchers epistemological hypothesis that governs what he/she may deem legitimate for the research in the building industry. The quantitative research applies surveys, questionnaires, and experiments to collect data that is tabulated in numbers thus characterizing the data using statistical analysis (Kukah, 2017).
Positivism conveys the perception of the natural scientists. Its functionality constitutes a social reality that can be observed to establish a law for instance generalizations. It guarantees an accurate and free from ambiguity knowledge based on earlier 20th century scientists and philosophers referred to as Vienna Circle (Godfrey-Smith, 2009). It is the significance of what the project offers. It focuses chiefly on scientific empiricist methodology, that is designed to produce pure facts and data that is barely influenced by human bias or interpretation. Adoption of an extreme positivist stance helps in viewing the building industry and the social entities as real just like any other natural or physical phenomenon. Credible data would only be acquired through observation of the measurable regularities and facts epistemologically (Finch & McMaster, 2003). The universal rules and laws would be crucial in explaining and predicting events and behavior in the building industry.
Positivists may also apply existing theory in establishing a hypothesis that would be tested and confirmed resulting in the enhancement of the philosophy that may be tested for advanced research. Every natural science commences with an involvement of the world where data is gathered and the observations made before formulation and testing of a hypothesis. This hypothesis then leads to the gathering of facts which form the grounds for the hypothesis testing. The positivist remains neutral or detached from data to avoid influencing the results or findings. This ensures that the data collected is quantifiable. Thus, quantitative method is best and most applicable. The instruments used are such as questionnaires where the respondents self-select from the predetermined responses of the researcher. In-depth interviews are also conducted which unlike questionnaires, they necessitate the researcher to frame the questions in relation to the participants and to interpret the responses.
The research determines any probable responses from the questionnaires as a part of the design process whereby, he/she may subsequently claim that his/her values hardly influence the responses of the respondent. In a positivist stance, the research also has a preference in the concerns of the research including the set objectives as well as the data or information to be gathered. A structured methodology is used to facilitate the replication (Gill & Johnson, 2010). Quantitative data is required due to the statistical analysis. The positivists may also use the qualitative data as the mode of data collection for instance in the application of hypothesis analysis to initially gathered data in the interviews.
Interpretive develops a positivism critique though from the perspective of a subjectivist. It emphases that the physical phenomena and human beings are distinct, based on the fact that they establish meanings, which an interpretive studies. This philosophy contends that people alongside their social worlds can hardly be researched in one physical phenomenon (Cecez-Kecmanovic, 2005). Thus, the social sciences research the needs to create a distinction from the natural sciences research instead of emulating the latter. Interpretive individuals are purported to creating new and an intense understanding and interpretation of the social contexts and world. The research is viewed from a continuum of perceptions by the different groups involved. Interpretations of what may appear to be similar may differ between geographical or historical contexts. Interpretive researchers, therefore, account for the complexity through collecting the meaningful data to their participants.
The various and distinct strands of interpretive philosophy show distinct emphasis on how to practically do this such that the phenomenologists studying the existence tend to put more focus on the lived experience, recollections and interpretations of the participants. Thus, it is subjective, decretive and argumentative. The interpretive emphasis on culture, language and history in the shaping of the interpretations and the experiences in the building industry as part of the social world. The focus on complexity and the multiple interpretations, as well as the meaning-making or argumentative interpretive philosophy, is deemed as explicitly subjectivist (Schwandt, 1994). From an axiological implication, the interpretive researchers identify their interpretations of the research data and material hence their beliefs and own values play a critical role in the research process. The researcher in the interpretive philosophy has to adopt an empathetic standpoint. They are unique in their context and tend to reflect on a certain series of events or circumstances that includes people gathering at specific times.
The quantitative methodology is best applicable to acquire meaningful and complex data. This may involve conducting interviews with individuals who have had real-life experience from a cultural or historical perspective. Additionally, surveys questionnaires may be applied to acquired and analyze first-hand data in the social worlds or surrounding environments. This will help in interpreting the data from a real-life situation.
This research method contends that whatever humans view is what they acquire and what they experience through their senses displays or portrays the world accurately. Critical realism, the reality is regarded as the most crucial consideration in the research philosophy, whereby a layered and structured ontology are critical (Carlsson, 2005). The critical realists view the reality as independent and external though not directly accessible through humans knowledge and observations of it. What people experience is deemed as empirical or sensations that are part of the real-world manifestations and not the actual things. The critical realists bring out the deception of human senses. Critical realists bring out two steps for understanding the world, the sensations and events people experience and secondly mental processing that continues after the experience.
According to Easton (2010), people are only able to comprehend what happens in the social world if they comprehend the collective structure that has created the experiences they are seeking to embrace. As a result of such focus, the realist's form of research applies a comprehensive historical examination of the industrial and social structures and their alteration with time. Critical realists uphold an epistemological relativism which is a subjectivists approach to the historical analysis and the knowledge. The Epistemological relativism regards that the type of knowledge is historically situated and the social facts are what the people have agreed on in regards to social constructions and not the objectively existing knowledge. That means, the critical realism in the causality can hardly be abridged to quantitative methods or statistical correlations. A continuum of approaches is also deemed appropriate. The axiological position of a critical realist arises from the awareness that people's knowledge of facts is caused by the social habituation and can hardly be comprehended as the objective of the involved social actors (Schreiber, 2015). Thus, as critical realist research, one ought to be aware of how the social-cultural settings and the experiences may influence the research and how it would reduce the biases through being fully objective.
Pragmatism research philosophy
According to Kelemen and Rumens (2008), in pragmatism, the concepts are only deemed relevant if they support action. They strive to relate or reconcile the objectivism and subjectivism realities/facts, values, thorough and accurate knowledge alongside the distinct contextualized experiences. This is though considering the concepts, hypothesis, ideas, theories and research results or findings based on their significance as instruments of practice and thought and their practical consequences in certain or particular contexts. To pragmatists, the reality is highly regarded as the practical impacts of ideas while the knowledge is assessed to enhance productive actions. The study or research in pragmatism commences with...
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