From Templates to Heuristics: How and Why to Move Beyond the Gioia Methodology

Jacqueline Mees-Buss, Catherine Welch, Rebecca Piekkari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganizational Research Methods
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Nov 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Gioia methodology
  • interpretation
  • rigor
  • epistemology
  • theory
  • naturalism
  • hermeneutics
  • templates


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