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A Grounded Theory on Obtaining Congruence in Decision Making

Michal T. Lysek, Halmstad University, Sweden Abstract This paper is a grounded theory on obtaining congruence in decision making. It is a study on how people receive contradictory information, and how they go through the process of deciding which option(s) to select. Sometimes leaders (e.g. officers, managers, etc.) try to engage people in challenging undertakings and present them with goals to follow. Which goals are followed and which are not depends on how they process that information, and what influences their decisions. By better understanding their decision making process, leaders could better learn how to influence people’s decisions. Leaders are also sometimes unaware that people often struggle with contradictory choices. The process of obtaining congruence in decision making consists of four stages: struggling, congruencing, deciding, and justifying. The process shows how people resolve cognitive struggles related to contradictive issues. The process is also a complementing theory to other theories on decision making related to psychology, management, and innovation. Keywords:Congruencing, deciding, justifying, struggling, classic grounded theory Introduction In their professions, people have to fulfill certain external expectations. At the same time, they also have a need to fulfill their own internal desires. These external expectations and internal desires can be defined as different objectives, some of which can even be contradictory to each other even if they have a common end goal. To fulfill these objectives, people have to make certain choices (and choose between different options). Those choices depend on their decisions, which make the process one of decision making. However, those decisions depend on finding congruence between their different choices. The main concern of these people in such a situation is to find congruence between certain choices related to their external and internal objectives. If congruence can be found between two or more different choices, then they can all be selected; but if not, then one or some of them need to be prioritized and the others rejected. Thus, the main concern of these people can be resolved by obtaining congruence in the process of decision making. This grounded theory was discovered in March of 2018, during a special program for participants from the Swedish Armed Forces. A total of 52 officers participated.  The lectures were held for eight of them at either the Armed Forces Technical School (FMTS) or the Anti-Aircraft Regiment (Lv.6) in Halmstad, Sweden.  For the remaining 41 participants, lectures were held at various regiments and flotillas (air wing, naval station) around Mälardalen, Sweden, including the Air Combat Training School (LSS) in Uppsala, Sweden and the Berga Haninge Garrison (Amf.1) in Stockholm, Sweden. Half of the participants were captains and half were majors. All participants, regardless of rank, were required to write a bachelor thesis as a preparation for the senior officer program (HOP). After the HOP, a Captain is promoted to the rank of Major or Lieutenant Commander. A Major is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and a Lieutenant Commander is promoted to Commander. However, since writing a bachelor thesis was a requirement for starting the HOP, the participants enrolled in this special program which covered one methodology course and one candidate thesis. I was involved as one of the lecturers for the methodology course. My task as a lecturer was to hold two types of lectures conducted in an integrated way, mixing practice with theory, and following a concentrated/focused schedule. One type of lectures dealt with quantitative research and the other type of lectures dealt with classic grounded theory, where my task was to...

Reflections on being an expert

Debbie Garratt, Notre Dame University, Sydney Abstract In this essay, the author explores the journey of undertaking a Grounded Theory (GT) research project on a topical area closely aligned with her profession, although on a specific aspect about which little was known.  By following the data as directed in GT, the area under study became one in which the researcher was more of an expert.  How this shift from “little known” to “expert area” occurred and the challenges relative to overcoming the researcher’s anxiety associated with this shift are two themes explored. The researcher’s conclusion is that expert knowledge enabled nuances to be seen that may otherwise have been missed, but that having expert knowledge necessitated greater attention to ensuring sensitisation, not preconception. Keywords: reflections, expert, classic grounded theory, abortion, grief Classic Grounded Theory (GT) is best undertaken on a subject about which a researcher knows little, leaving him or her open to new discoveries untainted by prior knowledge or expectations (Glaser, 2013).  As a novice researcher dedicated to learning GT, I took this directive very seriously to ensure my methodology was sound. As someone who is an avid reader, passionate about the lives and experiences of women in the world, I had quickly become enamoured with the writings of Brené Brown (2012, 2015).  On discovering that her understandings of people’s inner experiences were founded in GT, my interest in this methodology began.  As a counsellor and educator of more than 25 years, I am intrigued by the unique trajectories of people’s lives and the common themes among them. I believed there was yet to be discovered depth that united people and I sought to discover such shared experiences. GT essentially fit my need to know more information. To this end, my initial foray into PhD research was in an area unrelated to my work, but one in which I was very interested, adoption.  The study received approval however in spite of many attempts in which I failed effectively to recruit; the initial study was abandoned.  During this time however, my learning of GT for the purpose of embarking on a first study made me more determined that this methodology of choice would suit whatever my next research focus became. Pursuing my PhD changed focus and became a step toward adding credibility to my work in a highly ideological and polarising field of educating about the adverse impact of abortion wherein I have fast become considered an expert.  However, my expert status seemed not to reconcile with GT as an appropriate methodology given the recommendation that GT is best suited to a topic about which the researcher knows little. One aspect of my work has been the development of education and resources for practitioners who deal with women experiencing challenging circumstances during pregnancy and who have adversely suffered after abortion; the objective is for the practitioners to be able more effectively to support these grieving women after a termination. While almost 300 professionals have accessed this education, I remained unaware of whether it had positively influenced practise. Therefore, the aim of this PhD research was to identify gaps in practitioner knowledge and practise, and determine how these gaps may impact their interactions with women.  The end goal was being to inform the development of more effective educational resources based on knowledge gaps.  After embarking on my first interview with the ethics approved interview questions in hand, and my own broad opening question ready to take centre stage, I could...

An Exploration of Key Issues in the Debate Between Classic and Constructivist Grounded Theory...

Anne O’ Connor, National University of Galway, Ireland Barry Carpenter, University of Limerick, Ireland Barry Coughlan, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland Abstract In this paper, the debates and discourse between Classic GT or Constructivist GT are explored. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the various claims in a critical manner by revisiting the original discourse outlining these approaches. The importance of maintaining a reflective, neutral stance while examining the arguments and evidence for the claims on both sides of this debate is emphasized.  In the final analysis, the view taken by these researchers was that valid arguments could be made to support Classic and Constructive GT approaches. The rationale for choosing a Classic GT methodology is outlined. Guidelines to support novice researchers in their task of choosing the most appropriate GT approach are suggested. Keywords: classic grounded theory, constructivist grounded theory, literature review, participant voice, epistemological assumptions GT was first described in 1967 by Glaser and Strauss and continues to be an evolving methodology with a number of iterations, ongoing debates, discussion and controversies with many researchers strongly identifying with one or other side in these debates (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). This paper will focus on the debates between Classic and Constructivist GT. A challenge for novice researchers attempting to distinguish between approaches in GT is that the research designs share many core features and procedures (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007). While proponents of each approach emphasize their differences, the significance of these differences are often unclear to the GT novice. On first examination, it is difficult to identify the differences in the research process as the same terminology can be used to describe different processes or indeed the same process.  These issues are additionally confusing for a novice researcher as it is difficult to gain initial clarity on the importance of the various differences when comparing approaches. A second challenge for the novice is the tendency for authors on either side of these debates to adopt polarized positions. There is a natural tendency in these debates for each side to emphasize their differences and the unique offerings of their approach while minimising the shared similarities. It can be difficult for a novice, who is unfamiliar with the area and in search of certainty, to retain a neutral stance and resist being swayed by the passion of the arguments rather than their rationale and content. The need for each researcher to appraise the arguments critically within the context of their own research aims is crucial. A challenge for the novice is the way in which “competing” authors represent the opposing proponent’s writings.  Novice researchers must be careful not to accept these views uncritically. One example from this author’s experience was the example of Charmaz’s (2008) claim when referring to Glaser’s (1978) book Theoretical Sensitivity suggesting that “the abstract terms and dense writing Glaser employed rendered the book inaccessible to many readers” (p. 513). A reading of this book found that this claim was not supported as the terms used in the writing were clear and the writings was found to be logical, clear, and accessible. While various authors used arguments from their proponents’ work to support their arguments, the researcher notes that quotes were occasionally taken out of context or did not reflect the full complexity of the original author’s thinking or certain researcher’s interpretation of the author’s position. Such observations emphasized the importance of critical appraisal of all sides of this debate and the importance of reading...

About the Authors

Barry Carpenter is Honorary Professor at the Universities of Worcester (UK), Limerick (Ireland), Hamburg (Germany), and Flinders, (Australia). In his career, Barry has held leadership positions of Academic Director, Chief Executive, Principal, Headteacher, Inspector of Schools and Director of the Centre for Special Education at Westminster College, Oxford. In 2009, he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as Director of the Children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project. Subsequently, Barry has overseen the development of a national project developing on-line training materials for teachers of children with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities. The author of over 100 articles on special educational needs, he has won the prestigious Times award for his co-edited book “Enabling Access.”  He has been awarded Fellowships of the Royal Societies of Arts and Medicine, and was created OBE and CBE by the Queen for services to children with special needs. Anne O’ Connor works as a clinical psychologist in Early Intervention Services and is currently pursuing a PhD. Anne has practiced in the general area of childhood disability and is particularly interested in the family perspective and experience. She also works as a clinical coordinator on the Doctorate Programme for Clinical Psychologists which affords her the opportunity to visit services throughout Ireland. After many years of clinical practice Anne is now also working as an academic and researcher. She has been focusing on developing opportunities for local clinicians and researchers to collaborate to increase research input to disability studies. She is a member of the International Society of Early Intervention. Through her work on her PhD she has developed an interest in Classic Grounded Theory.  aoconnor@nuigalway.ie Dr. Barry Coughlan, Acting Director on the Doctoral programme in Clinical Psychology at the University of Limerick and also maintains a clinical practice and professional consultancy portfolio.  Dr Coughlan has a special interest in the emotional wellbeing & mental health of young people and adults with intellectual disability and complex need.  His clinical and associated research focus includes mental health & emotional wellbeing in intellectual disability, Complex Learning Difficulties & Disabilities, Special Educational Needs, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Ageing and Disability, Deinstitutionalisation & Community integration. In 2015, Dr. Coughlan was commissioned by the Australian Ministry of Education (Melbourne Office) to undertake a review of Western Autistic Schools’ special provision for young adolescents presenting with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and mental health difficulties. Debbie Garratt, PhD Candidate at Notre Dame University, Sydney, is a clinical nurse consultant, qualified counsellor and adult educator, and founder and Executive Director of Real Choices Australia, an organisation established to provide quality research and education on reproductive health issues.  As part of this work, Debbie also consults to community groups and the health sector on professional standards and organisational development for services for women experiencing challenges during the perinatal period. For 20 years she has divided her time between the provision of education and clinical supervision to practitioners and clients locally through her private practice, and research, education and speaking engagements both nationally and internationally. Debbie’s current doctoral research is a grounded theory study of dominant discourses. dgarratt@realchoices.org.au Alejandro Hernandez, PhD, Colonel, US Army (Ret.), Associate Professor, Systems Engineering Department, Naval Postgraduate School. Dr. Hernandez is an associate professor in the systems engineering department at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California. He holds a B.S. in civil engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, a M.S. and Ph.D. in operations research from NPS, and a masters in strategic studies from the Army...

Becoming Comfortable with MY Epilepsy: The How2tell Study

Naomi Elliott, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland Introduction This short paper on Becoming comfortable with MY epilepsy is part of the How2tell study on disclosure and epilepsy. The purpose of the study is to explain how people with epilepsy (PWE) disclose information about their condition and, using this knowledge, develop a multi-media educational resource that will support PWE learn how to tell other people about their epilepsy.  The inductive approach of grounded theory (Glaser, 1998) allow for a viable means to generate a robust explanation about disclosure—one that was grounded in the realities of PWE everyday life. From a healthcare and policy perspective (England, Liverman, Schultz, & Strawbridge, 2012), providing access to relevant and usable knowledge for people with epilepsy that meets their individual needs is important to enable them to participate effectively in self-care management. Grounded theory, therefore, was essential to the How2tell study, which was successfully awarded a research grant from the highly competitive Health Research Board and Epilepsy Ireland’s research grant programme. Methods To gather data on first-hand experiences of disclosure and epilepsy, in-depth interviews were carried out with 49 consenting adult people with epilepsy (18 years and over) in Ireland. In the early stages of concurrent data gathering and analysis, becoming comfortable began to emerge as a tentative category. Later, as data gathering, analysis and theoretical sampling progressed; the category was further developed to becoming comfortable with MY epilepsy. Becoming comfortable with MY epilepsy “I knew about it [epilepsy] to a degree, but not on a personal level . . . not the experience of it.” A major concern identified by participants in the How2tell study related to feeling ready to start talking about their epilepsy with other people. At the time of being newly diagnosed with epilepsy, participants were at the beginning stage of coming to terms with the diagnosis and trying to understand how epilepsy would affect them personally in everyday life. Importantly, participants did not feel ready to talk about their epilepsy with other people until they felt comfortable with the epilepsy diagnosis and, in particular, their type of epilepsy. Becoming comfortable with epilepsy was a gradual process and developed over time. As part of the process, participants used four main strategies that helped them reach a point of feeling ready to talk about their epilepsy. The first strategy, becoming knowledgeable with MY epilepsy, involved sourcing information that was relevant to their particular type of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a complex neurological condition and encompasses a broad spectrum of different types of epilepsy and seizures, so that newly diagnosed PWE realize that they need to learn about the complexities of managing their epilepsy. Another strategy that participants use is becoming a member of an epilepsy support group. Although information on epilepsy was readily available from healthcare professionals, information booklets, Internet, and specialty epilepsy websites, participants find that joining a support group where they could meet other people with epilepsy and, importantly, meet people with their type of epilepsy is particularly helpful in becoming comfortable with MY epilepsy. A third strategy PWE use is to confide in a close friend or family member. The first time they tell someone about their epilepsy, they usually choose to tell someone who is close to them and whom they trust. Saying the word epilepsy out loud, getting used to talking to close friends, and dealing with their reactions help PWE to become more comfortable in talking about their epilepsy. The fourth strategy involves practicing telling, which is particularly...

Grappling with the Suicidal Monster: A Grounded Theory of how Parents Experience Living with Suicidal Distress...

Erica Delaney, Evelyn Gordon, Dublin City University, Ireland Background Suicidal behaviour is a significant public health concern given the strong association between acts of self-injury and death by suicide—particularly among young people where rates of self-injury are steadily increasing (National Suicide Research Foundation, 2017). Furthermore, carers including parents, relatives, and significant others are being allocated increasing responsibility in assisting mental health care services in the early detection and management of family members at risk of suicide (Chiang, Lu, Lin, Lin, & Sun, 2015). Thus, it is essential to understand how this vital role is experienced by parents in order to ensure that sufficient supports are made available to them.  However, there is a paucity of literature relating to this phenomenon. This grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) study generated a substantive theory about how parents experience living with young adults who are in suicidal distress. The main concern The main concern, keeping my child alive, describes the sole focus of the parents throughout the young persons’ suicidal distress. Parents’ thoughts, fears, and imaginations act as driving forces where they become preoccupied regarding the dangers to which their children may succumb because of their suicidality, rendering a “monster” to be reckoned with for a sustained period in their lives. The core category/theory: Grappling with the suicidal monster Grappling with the suicidal monster offers a novel theoretical understanding of the three-staged psychosocial process participating parents undergo to resolve their core concern. It describes how they struggle to understand the suicidal distress that their adult children are experiencing and the various protective actions they take to address this issue. While each progressive stage lessens in intensity and worry for parents, the experience has a profound and prolonged impact on their overall functioning and well-being. Unmasking the monster The first stage of grappling with the suicidal monster is unmasking the monster, which describes the processes the parents engage in as they begin to suspect that something might be wrong with their child. They notice changes in their child’s behaviour, which lead them to feel increasingly on edge and concerned for their child’s welfare, while not wholly understanding what they are witnessing. They endeavour to communicate with their child about what is happening and become preoccupied with how they might protect them from this new and uninvited intruder into their lives. Living with the monster The next phase, living with the monster, reflects how the parents, consumed by their need to keep their child safe, enter a prolonged state of heightened fear. Due to this intense focus on their children, daily routines become less important to uphold, with some parents unable to concentrate on tasks, such as working or engaging in activities outside the home. The parents also withhold expressing their own feelings and monitor how they interact with their child for fear of inadvertently making the situation worse. Being continuously on guard results in sleep deprivation and a decline in their own mood. While seeking support for themselves is not a priority, some parents find support in their significant others, specialty programmes, or through creative relaxation exercises. Surviving the monster The final phase, surviving the monster, describes how, as the suicidal distress of their child begins to dissipate, the parents struggle to leave this traumatic experience behind and return to life as they had previously known it. Application of the theory to mental health practice The substantive theory, grappling with the suicidal monster, offers a theoretical framework for mental health practitioners to understand...