A Dissertation is a cumulative effort representative of the entirety of the educational experience. The importance of a dissertation in the educational experience of a student can never be underestimated. A dissertation should report the empirical conclusion of a study as well as provide an over view of current literature and current findings on the subject. It should interpret these facts based on a comparative reading of the sources relative to the experimental outcome. The descriptive study must analyse the "trends in attitudes, events, and facts in terms of their commonality and potential for prediction" (Smith, 1997, p. 34), In this dissertation, ontological and epistemological assumptions will be discussed in relation to positivist and interpretivist approaches to business research. Moreover, two methods of collecting and analyzing qualitative data will be critically compared and contrasted.Part B : Ontological belief and epistemological assumptions are always expected to be at complete dissention with each other and influence the positivist and interpretivist approaches to business research. Ontology is the department of metaphysics concerned with the nature of being. Ontological assumptions will therefore be completely influenced by faith. Such assumptions quite naturally form the basis of positivism and positivist approaches to business research. Positivism is the philosophical system recognizing only positive facts and observable phenomena. It naturally accepts.
Epistemology is the theory of knowledge or grounds of knowledge. Thus,
epistemological assumptions form the basis of interpretivist approach to business
research. Epistemological assumptions will challenge every ontological belief and
will want to question every positivist approach of business research.
While ontological assumptions will naturally believe in the goodness of a
product or process, epistemological assumptions will want to interpret every
aspect of the same. Ontological assumptions will not question the theoretical
basis of a concept or a product or even a research process. The basis of such
assumptions is good faith or a simple faith in the goodness of the product per say,
based on face value or usage. This represents a microcosm of ontological
assumptions. People tend to assume a certain fact to be true just good or proper.
It can be so either by means of rote' or by way of peer pressure. Large scale
acceptance of a certain product or concept or idea will influence this acceptance
aspect of business research. There is no theory attached to a wide spread
acceptance - just the mere fact of acceptance.
Epistemological assumptions will want to get to the bottom of the matter
and will raise questions about the theoretical basis of the assumption.
Epistemological assumptions begin with an inherent suspicion of the knowledge
basis of the concept or product. They want to understand and interpret
everything in a framework of methodology
Conventional science is based on 'rational positivist' thought. This includes
the presumptions that there is a 'real world'. Data can be gathered by observing
it This data is factual. It is truthful and unambiguous. The 'post-positivist',
'interpretivist' philosophy, on the other hand, asserts that these assumptions are
unwarranted, According to this philosophy 'facts' and 'truth' are a wild supposition
and 'objective' observation is impossible, and that the act of observation-and-
interpretation is dependent on the perspective adopted by the observer.
Interpretivists criticise even the physical scientists for the narrowness of their
assumptions. Their criticisms hold some truth particularly strongly in the social
sciences, where the objects of study are influenced by so many factors. These
factors are extremely difficult to isolate and control in experimental laboratory
settings. The interpretivist ap