Researchers are exposed to multiple interpretive challenges in the journey from field data to theoretical understanding. A common response to these challenges is to turn to the guidance of templates such as the Gioia methodology?currently a preferred template for interpretive management research. Given its popularity, we examine how this methodology approaches the interpretive process of fieldwork. We find that the inductive route to theory that it offers does not address the challenges of interpretation. As an alternative, we propose a return to the epistemological tradition of hermeneutics. We argue that fieldwork informed by a hermeneutic orientation is able to generate credible and novel theory by confronting the challenges of interpretation head on. This process cannot be represented by the orderly steps of a template. We argue that a return to a hermeneutic orientation opens the way to more plausible and insightful theories based on interpretive rather than procedural rigor, and we offer a set of heuristics to guide both researchers and reviewers along this path.
- Gioia methodology