Analyzing and Interpreting Historical Sources: A Basic Methodology

Matthias Kipping, Dan Wadhwani, Marcelo Bucheli

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    This chapter outlines a methodology for the interpretation of historical sources, helping to realize their full potential for the study of organization, while overcoming their challenges in terms of distortions created by time, changes in context, and selective production or preservation. Drawing on social scientific methods as well as the practice and reflections of historians, the chapter describes analytical and interpretive process based on three basic elements, illustrating them with exemplars from management research: source criticism to identify possible biases and judge the extent to which a source can be trusted to address the research question; triangulation with additional sources to confirm or question an interpretation and strengthen the overall findings; hermeneutics to relate sources to their original contexts and make their interpretation by a researcher today more robust. The chapter contributes to the creation of a language for describing the use of historical sources in management research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOrganizations in Time : History, Theory, Methods
    EditorsMarchelo Bucheli, Dan Wadhwani
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Publication date2014
    ISBN (Print)9780199646890
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Historical sources
    • Historical methods
    • Source criticism
    • Triangulation
    • Hermeneutics

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