Methodological implications of critical realism for mixed-methods research

Markos Zachariadis, Susan Scott, Michael Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building on recent developments in mixed methods, we discuss the methodological implications of critical realism and explore how these can guide dynamic mixed-methods research design in information systems. Specifically, we examine the core ontological assumptions of CR in order to gain some perspective on key epistemological issues such as causation and validity, and illustrate how these shape our logic of inference in the research process through what is known as retroduction. We demonstrate the value of a CR-led mixed-methods research approach by drawing on a study that examines the impact of ICT adoption in the financial services sector. In doing so, we provide insight into the interplay between qualitative and quantitative methods and the particular value of applying mixed methods guided by CR methodological principles. Our positioning of demi-regularities within the process of retroduction contributes a distinctive development in this regard. We argue that such a research design enables us to better address issues of validity and the development of more robust meta-inferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-879
Number of pages25
JournalMIS Quarterly: Management Information Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Critical realism
  • abstraction
  • retroduction
  • case study
  • research
  • methodology
  • entrepreneurship


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