Designing a conceptual methodology for structuration research

Georgios Makrygiannikis, Lisa Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: To explore the application of social theory as conceptual methodology in the design of case study research.

Design/methodology/approach: We examine how social theory can be used to design case study research when the choice of theory is made before or during the empirical enquiry. Rather than simply presenting the elements of design, the focus is on the ways the elements relate and connect to each other, i.e. how a researcher can design each step to facilitate the work that needs to be done in the others.

Findings: A circular research design starts and finishes with theory. The conceptual tools that social theories offer can be used to guide researchers into the empirical field and out of it. A conceptually driven design facilitates the interconnection between the various steps of a research project and can keep theory, research problem, and data closely connected.

Research implications: There is a role for systematic research design in interpretative case studies in management control. Although this paper uses strong structuration theory, the circular design proposed can be applied for other social theories and methodologies where an abductive approach is appropriate.

Originality: There are very few papers that explicitly demonstrate the implications of research design choices in case study research. In particular, we contribute to discussions on the conduct of interpretative research in management control and demonstrate that, especially for structuration theory, a conceptual methodology approach to research design, data collection, and analysis can lead to theoretical insight.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMeditari Accountancy Research
Early online date23 Feb 2018
Publication statusEarly online - 23 Feb 2018


  • research design
  • conceptual methodology
  • case study
  • theorisation
  • strong structuration
  • abduction


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