Editorial: The Multidimensional Usefulness of Grounded Theories

Astrid Gynnild, Editor

This issue of the Grounded Theory Review demonstrates the multidimensional usefulness of doing grounded theories. Raising awareness through systematized conceptualizing is undoubtedly the number one reason for generating grounded theories. But, as demonstrated in the conceptual discussion of applying GT by Barney G. Glaser, raising awareness is just one of many benefits of the method.

The general section in this issue contains three theories that focus on human patterns of coping with change, but from very different disciplinary perspectives. The grounded theory of struggling with and for by authors Berit S. Brinchmann and Henrik Sollie provides crucial insights into everyday challenges of parents of hard-to-treat ADHD teenagers. Their GT indicates that parents experience just as many problems with the helping agencies as with their own teenagers. Identifying this double bind relationship to the helping agencies opens up new ways of understanding family strengths and capabilities, and might help to build professional support upon familiar coping strategies.

In a similar manner, Barbara Yalof, in her GT study of online learners, identifies the various ways that online students of different temperaments respond to a main concern of helplessness and isolation. Their challenges are resolved through marshaling resources, which indicates that peer-to-peer support systems are more important in online learning than facilitators may have previously realized. The marshaling resources theory helps explain how unmet student needs might cause some students to drop out and other students to feel empowered, and supports the idea that developing support networks is of great importance for online students as well as for their institutions.

Jan Green and Ben Binsardi’s grounded theory of trenchant remedying challenges existing assumptions of individual resistance to change in management literature. The authors identify effective change concern resolving behaviours in private-sector businesses; behaviours that represent what the authors call “an antithesis to traditional change management solutions.” It is pointed out that organizational change is uphill and uncertain, requiring prolonged and persistent effort. The grounded theory of trenchant remedying proposes that the most important solution is expended vigor and effort. The authors identify four levels of individual change efforts, and trenchancy as the theoretical complimentary concept in order to complete the change. The theory is indeed useful for the further development of management approaches in a time of constant change.

Each of the above theories implicitly highlights credibility, relevancy and usefulness as important aspects of using the grounded theory method, albeit in very different areas.

Following up these crucial issues, we are also very happy to present, in short form, a conceptual discussion drawn from the latest writings by co-founder of grounded theory, Barney G. Glaser. The paper “Applying Grounded Theory” by Glaser identifies application and usefulness issues of grounded theories. He discusses how properties of GTs are often, more or less purposely, applied to situations, populations, or areas of interest, and how extended awareness of applying GTs might lead to further investigations of a field. Glaser also points out that GTs are often applied almost automatically “as an informal conceptual explanation as it may occur in casual conversation or happening.” This fact says something important about the potential strengths and impact of GTs. The article is identical to the first chapter of Glaser’s coming book on applying grounded theory, an aspect of grounded theory building which until now has drawn relatively little attention, but might be of great importance to all parties involved.

In the last paper of the section for shorter conceptual discussions, Isabelle Walsh suggests grounded theory as a methodological remedy in management science in order to avoid what she calls research misconduct. Walsh argues that researchers should follow the basic assumptions of grounded theory when conducting quantitative studies and mixed-method approaches so as to make their research more credible.

Finally, this issue of the Grounded Theory Review presents three book reviews:
Naomi Elliott critiques Barney G. Glaser’s book Memoing: A Vital Grounded Theory Procedure (2014), Pernilla Pergert reviews Barney Glaser’s book No Preconceptions – the Grounded Theory Dictum, and Alvita Nathaniel reviews The Rediscovery of Grounded Theory by Barry Gibson and Jan Hartman.

Have a good read!