Inductive and deductive approaches are contradictory, but they should be seen as complementary. According to Bryman and Bell (2018), in the inductive approach to research, the researcher starts with collection of data relevant to the topic of interest, proceeds to look for patterns or analyzes the data, and develops theory. Saunders et al. (2019) asserts that the deductive approach is the exact opposite. The researcher starts with the development of theory, proceeds to analyze data, and examines whether hypotheses are supported or not.
The two approaches are better seen as complementary. In some instances, researchers plan their research in a way that includes the two approaches (Soiferman, 2010, p. 3; Azungah, 2018). In other instances, researchers might start a study with the motive of conducting either inductive or deductive research but realize as the study progresses that the left-out approach is vital to the illumination of findings.
I have participated in collaborative research on employee performance. We were aware of the need to include both deductive and inductive approaches in the research. Our study entailed administration of a quantitative survey. We analyzed the responses so as to test hypotheses. The study also entailed qualitative interviews with individuals who took part in the quantitative survey. For the quantitative survey data, the deductive approach was the best fit as we analyzed the data to test hypotheses generated. However, for the qualitative interview data, the inductive approach proved to be the best fit. For the interview data, we began by looking for various patterns after which we made attempted to make sense of the patterns. In making sense of the patterns, our focus was on developing theories revolving around them.
Question: Since the two approaches may be complementary, is one more effective than the other?
Azungah, T., 2018. Qualitative research: deductive and inductive approaches to data analysis. Qualitative Research Journal, 18 (4), pp.383–400.
Bryman, A. & Bell, E. 2018. Business Research Methods. (5th Ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Saunders, M. Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. .2019. Research Methods for Business Students. (8th Ed.). London: Pearson.
Soiferman, L.K., 2010. Compare and Contrast Inductive and Deductive Research Approaches. Available at: <https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED542066.pdf> [Accessed May 23 2020]