Researching Work, Employment and Employee Relations

Researching Work, Employment and Employee Relations


Michael Woywode (2002) analyzes the distribution process and the organizational consequences of management models which often spread across the globe through industries. Michael takes a case of the working group notion to research the final assembly of a sample of German and French car manufacturers. It is indicated from the study that in both states, working groups same to those used in Japanese car organizations are extensively distributed in the car industry. From the analysis, it can also be seen that car plants have been using working groups to experiment and properly adjust to their needs (local adaptation). The end result of the article shows that social acclimatization of local groups, in no small extent, results from the formal variations between the two states (Woywode, 2002). Since adaptation and diffusion process takes place, it is easy to observe idiosyncratic and isomorphic tendencies in the structure of an organization at the same time.

Cregan’s article focuses on an inductive analysis of reactions to open-ended questions in a survey done in 1997 to categorize and assess the attitude of workers towards unions. The content analysis of this article, textual analysis, as well as hierarchical cluster analysis of the responses to the survey provides various results with the possibility of a union shaping plan. The article shows that even though few employees in the sample collected were affiliates of a union, many of the members were affiliated to the union. But he reports that many non-members held casual attitudes towards joining unions (Cregan, 2005). Some members of a union seemingly wanted to and were capable of assisting with union recruitment. Respondents who were aware of workplace injustice were more likely to be members of a union. However, according to the article, many of them thought that unions would deliver their expectations and disliked the botched strike plans and leaders who could not be reached. In this article, the author pinpoints new chances to organize unions and believes that by forming unions, workers can eliminate the current issues they face in their places of work (Cregan 2005).

These two articles are a good reflection that brings a difference between inductive and deductive approaches to research. At the same time, they largely contribute to our understanding of human resource management and employment relations.


The relationship between research data and theory can be seen in their functions. Stated clearly, the initial reason for getting research data is to develop a theory. Development of theory depends on the research data and at the same time, research lies on theory. The link between theory and research can be described as a dialectic in the sense that theory influences the kind of data to be gathered and research outcomes of offering challenges to the established theories (Fawcett & Downs, 1997).

Research data is considered as the medium for theory development. Research is used to collect data required for the development of theory. This is relevant whether the primary intention of the research is to form a theory or to test an existing one. When the intention of research is to generate a theory, the phenomenon of interest suggests the things to examine. For instance, in case a theory about the perception of clients to the factors that influence their devotion to a nursing care plan was to be created, one of the data sources would be the perception of clients regarding whether they are eager and ready to adhere to the care plan. But if the intention of the research is testing a theory, the theory defines the data that should be gathered. For instance, if a theory supports that mental support offered by partners is the best determiner of client’s commitment to the nursing care plan, the data collected would include the level of emotional support provided by the spouses and the degree to which clients are adhering to care plans.

The link between research and theory can be elaborated by examining research designs applied to develop different theory types. Theories can be described as explanatory or descriptive (Fawcett & Downs, 1997). Research designs that create and test the kind of theories include descriptive, experimental, and correlational.

Theoretical contribution is based on the development of theory and advancement in the existing theory with specific facts and logic. The contribution of theory offers a step-by-step guide designed to assist researchers in arriving at conclusions. Theory contribution has a significant impact on the validity, replication, reliability, as well as generalizability of research. Theory and research often have complex relationship. In most cases, the theory generates hypotheses that can be proved or disapproved by the research process. The result of the theory can strengthen the theory in place. It is essential to note theory is a generally accepted explanation or principle of nature. It is regarded as the most dependable source of knowledge because it can be conveyed in a logical manner and based on significant facts to prove out a point (Proctor, 1995). Research is a creative work that derives data from enhancing the availability of knowledge to humans. Both theory and research are a component of the scientific method, a process through which knowledge is obtained, corrected, and incorporated into the whole of the provable knowledge. It is essential to note that there is a significant variation between a hypothesis and a theory. An explanation is regarded as a testable prediction that is made before conducting research. A hypothesis is an area that has not been tested, but a theory has often been already examined, supported and mostly accepted (Fawcett & Downs, 1997). Many people tend to confuse hypothesis with theory, but it should be noted that the hypothesis is concentrated on a given set of situations while a theory provides a more general observation or explanation. In nursing, for instance, practice research and theory form the cornerstone of the nursing profession. Clinical practice has the potential of generating research questions for data collection and knowledge for the theory. Data collected from research guides nursing practice and builds knowledge through theory formation. Effective practice of nursing often requires the knowledge application, skills, empathy, and the art of caring for the patients in an efficient, effective, and considerable manner.

Evaluation of the Two Articles

The two articles Woywode (2002) and Cregan (2005) are a clear illustration of the difference between inductive and deductive approaches to research. At the same time, they help contribute to our understanding of human resource management and employee relations. Theories structure informs sociological research. Research structures also inform theory. When considering the relationship between theory and research, inductive and deductive approaches come into play. In these approaches, theory plays a crucial. As evident from the two articles, there is a big difference between deductive and inductive research approaches.

The article by Cregan (2005) can be considered an inductive approach to research because the researcher starts by collecting data relevant to his topic of interest “A review of Industrial and Labor Relations.” In this article, Cregan began with a set of observations and then moved from the particular experiences of the employees in the workplace to a more general set of propositions regarding the workers’ experiences. In other words, the researcher moved from data to forming a general perspective regarding labour and industrial relations. Christina Cregan (2005), ‘Can Organizing Work?’ Industrial and Labor Relations Review, volume 58, number 2, pp. 282-304 focuses on qualitative research approach to create a new theory based on the data collected. Cregan began with an open mind with no predetermined notions of what would be found. He aimed to generate a new theory based on the data he would collect regarding whether the formation of employee unions can work in improving industrial and labour relations. An inductive approach to research, as shown by Cregan’s article, is aimed at generating new theories from the data collected. They are often engrossed on exploring new situations or examining situations researched previously from a different viewpoint. Cregan (2005) performs an inductive study of responses to open-ended questions in his survey aimed at categorizing and assessing the attitudes of workers towards unions. As earlier mentioned, Cregan uses content analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis, as well as a textual examination of the response to the survey to develop outcomes with impacts for the possibilities of a union shaping plan. Cregan spots untapped openings for the union shaping members and concludes that unions can erode the current problems faced by employees in different workplaces.

Michael Woywode (2002), ‘Global Management Concept and Local Adaptions: Working Groups in the French and German Manufacturing Industry’, Organization Studies, volume 23, number 4, pp. 497-524 is an article can be categorized under deductive approaches to research.  This because the Woywode begins by finding a social theory (Global Management concepts and local adaptations) that he finds compelling and then tests its implication with data. He moves from a more general perspective to a more specific one (Working Groups in the French and German Manufacturing Industry). The author typically associates his study to a scientific investigation. It is no doubt that Woywode is trying to study a topic that has been studied before, but he reads existing theories of the phenomenon and tests the hypothesis emerging from the theories. Woywode developed his hypotheses from his readings of previous research and theories on the topic. He then tested the research hypothesis by analysis of the data of the aspect of working groups in the French and German manufacturing industry. Generally, Woywode found support for his hypothesis.

Generally, induction is the aspect of moving from a specific to a general perspective while deduction entails the start from a widespread phenomenon towards a more specific event (Malik, Muhammad & Qayyum, 2010). At the same time, arguments that are based on observations and experiences are best expressed inductively, but those arguments that are based on rules, laws, or other widely accepted principles are expressed in a deductive manner (Pablo, 2011). These are the differences exhibited by the two articles to exemplify the difference between deductive and inductive approaches to research.

From the articles, one can notice the relationship between theory and data. The data collected from the research, after analysis, helps in the formation of the theories. The data collection process is directly related to the theory to be developed. Theory often guides the type of data to be collected. At the same, it defines the research design approach to be used in the research.

The data collected by the two articles can be applied to other settings apart from which they were initially tested. The studies are externally valid because they can describe the actual state of affairs outside their research setting. The research results can be transferred to other contexts such as epistemology. Basic concepts of reliability, validity, and generalizability are applicable in the two articles. They contribute to the knowledge of human resource management and employee relations. This is because the studies are aimed at understanding the management of people towards the desired ends. Human resource management is a fundamental activity in any business organization where humans are employed. These articles focus on understanding the management of work and people in organizations and the analytical approach that should be taken positive co-existence between HRM, employment or industrial relations, organizational theory/behaviour, sociology, economics, psychology, and labour relations, among others. The research articles can help human resource managers to draw opinions, insights, and models from the cognate disciplines and apply them in real-world settings. They foster a more integrated conception of HRM with much more better connections to how production is organized in organizations and how workers experience the entire management process and the organizational culture. The concepts from these articles can be replicated in areas such as strategic management, economics, and organizational theory. Generally, these articles contribute to our understanding of HRM and employee relations by enabling us to form an overview of the major theoretical perspectives that can help illustrate the broad practice of HRM.

In conclusion, the articles by Woywode (2002) and Cregan (2005) are an accurate reflection of the difference between inductive and deductive research approaches. Woywode has used a deductive approach while Cregan’s article has applied an inductive method for their research. Theory, research, data, research design, and data collection are correlated with one another, and the two articles indicate this. It noted that the research articles effectively contribute to our knowledge of HRM and employee relations in different ways.




Christina Cregan (2005), ‘Can Organizing Work?’ Industrial and Labor Relations Review, volume 58, number 2, pp. 282-304.

Fawcett, J., & Downs (1997) The Relationship of Theory and Research. Norwalk, CT: Appleton Century Crofts

Malik Amer Atta, Muhammad Ayaz, & Qayyum Nawaz (2010) Comparative Study of Inductive & Deductive Methods of Teaching Mathematics at Elementary Level.

Michael Woywode (2002) ‘Global Management Concept and Local Adaptions: Working Groups in the French and German Manufacturing Industry’, Organization Studies, volume 23, number 4, pp. 497-524.

Pablo Dornes (2011) How to Combine Inductive and Deductive Approaches to Prediction in Ungauged Basins.

Procter S. (1995) The contribution of inductive and deductive theory to the development of practitioner knowledge. In: Reed J., Procter S. (Eds) Practitioner Research in Health Care. Springer, Boston, MA.