In November 2015, Prof Renate Meyer (WU Wien) spent a few days at my Research Training Group WIPCAD as a guest researcher. Her work on New Institutionalism in Public Management has been a great influence on my dissertation project. (If you have the language skills, her books “Neoinstitutionalistische Organisationstheorie” and “Globale Managementkonzepte und lokaler Kontext” are incredibly useful introductions to neo-institutionalist theory.)
So of course I joined the workshop she offered for our PhD fellows.
One of my major takeaways from the workshop is seeing your PhD project along three axis: the empirical phenomenon you study, the methodology and concrete methods you use to examine that phenomenon and the theories used to conceptualize the phenomenon. The three should not only have an internal fit, but also fit with your targeted audience, publication strategy and career ambitions.
The real eye-opener however was Prof Meyer’s presentation of the mixed-method approaches she has used in the past to conduct neo-institutionalist research:
- Frame analysis borrowed from social movement research (Benford & Snow 2010) to elicit the different meanings a uniformly labelled concept takes on.
- Correspondence analysis (Greenacre & Blasius 1994) of coded qualitative data to map e.g. frames (and additional variables) to actors.
- Semantic Network Analysis in its different incarnations (e.g. van Atteveldt 2008)
Inspiring examples of this kind of work are “Meaning structures in a contested issue field: A topographic map of shareholder value in Austria” with a subsequent frame analysis and correspondence analysis as well as “The translation and sedimentation of accounting reforms. A comparison of the UK, Austrian and Italian experiences” with a dictionary-based content analysis.
I will certainly draw inspiration (i.e. blatantly steal) some of the methodological approaches for my dissertation.