Reflections on the use of a dual-methodology research design to evaluate accounting and management practice in UK university central administrative services

Rhoda Brown*, Stan Brignall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper discusses the application of a triangulated research design in studying the cost-efficiency of central administrative service (CAS) departments in UK universities. The methodology is of particular interest, as it is a dual-method, mixed paradigm study involving two separate teams of researchers with different methodological orientations and, potentially, varying objectives. The political context of this project is also significant, given the climate of cuts in resources to Higher Education and recent moves to make universities more 'accountable', not least because the research was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), The paper reflects upon the philosophical and political issues that were encountered during a research process that encompassed different methodologies, but which aimed at producing a unified body of knowledge. The paper identifies three possibilities for this unified body of knowledge: that the dual approaches complemented each other; challenged each other; or 'talked past' each other as they were rooted in different philosophical and political 'realities'. It is proposed that, given sufficient self-awareness and reflexivity on the part of the researchers, dual-methodological research may be largely complementary and overcome at least some of the obstacles that impede the formation of a unified body of knowledge within accounting settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-48
Number of pages17
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007

Keywords

  • Critical realism
  • Dual-methodology
  • Unified body of knowledge
  • University administration

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