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This article argues that historical research is an important organizational research paradigm, for which there is little instruction on its unique methods and techniques. Those who decide to pursue this methodology are given few methodological tips on how to conduct this research and how to avoid standard pitfalls. First, this article reviews some of the key types of research questions asked by historians. Different formats for research questions include biographical research, focus on a single topic, concentration of a particular place or time, and microhistory. Next, different sources of historical data are summarized (archival research, primary and secondary sources, personal interviews, and quantitative data), focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, several dilemmas that all historical researchers face are presented, providing suggestions on different ways to resolve those dilemmas. For example, the challenge of being overly celebratory versus critical is discussed as is the challenge of understanding the past through contemporary viewpoints. In addition, suggestions are presented on how to evaluate historical research and where to publish it. Suggestions for topics for historical investigation are made throughout the article. Work is cited from historical scholars on historiography as well as organizational researchers who have conducted historical research. Finally, the article ends with a summary of the benefits of conducting historical research.
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- Digging Through Dust: Historiography for the Organizational Sciences
Michael J. Zickar
- Springer US
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