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Different modes of enquiry

Provide a brief critique of different modes of enquiry. Your answer should focus on similarities and differences between the modes of enquiry and not simply provide a description of each one. Additionally you should identify the strengths and limitations of each mode of enquiry 1. 1. Introduction to Modes of Enquiry An Inquiry System or IS is best defined as “a system of interrelated components for producing knowledge on a problem or issue of importance. ” (Mitroff & Linstone, 1995, p.

29) Down the ages, human thought has tried to examine issues in every area of life, war, peace and business from different angles and perspectives to reach satisfactory conclusions. Problems, critical or otherwise need to be defined in multiple, possibly conflicting ways and examined from different dimensions to come to a solution. Efforts in this direction have led to distinct modes of enquiry, chief among them being the Inductive/Consensual, Analytic/Deductive, Multiple Realities and the Dialectic modes.

Apart from these, the Unbounded Systems Thinking or Multiple Perspectives method has also been examined for the purpose of this exercise. Every IS operates on distinct inputs from the outside world. “The inputs that a particular IS recognizes as legitimate are not necessarily recognizable by other IS’s”. (Mitroff & Linstone, 1995, p. 30) Different IS’s also employ different mechanisms to convert their inputs into worked out outputs or knowledge for action. Finally, “the most critical component (which) is known as the guarantor” (Mitroff & Linstone, 1995, p.

30) validates the choice of the input and the mechanism to be used for conversion of the input into usable output or knowledge. It is the purpose of this critique to examine these different modes of enquiry and choose an appropriate mode for the investigation of an organization’s IS strategy. 1. 2. Inductive Consensual The Inductive-Consensual mode of enquiry, also known as the Lockean type, is amongst the oldest thought systems. It is still widely used and is appropriate in a number of situations. It works on the principle of validating the accumulation of discrete facts by summing or consensual agreement.

Learning is through observing the world, sharing observations and creating a consensus. Primary tools for this IS include “data warehouses for storing information (and) … data mining for analyzing observations. (Knowledge Management and Managerial Decision Making, pg 1)) Knowledge in the Inductive- Consensual mode is thus created “from empirical information gathered from external observations and used inductively to build a representation of the world with a set of labels (or properties) assigned to the observations.

The decision style is clearly group-oriented and open. ” (Kupp, V and Hutchison, C, pg1)) While the method is still used in a number of decisions, for example where many people judge a dancing competition, it suffers from severe limitations and is appropriate only for bounded and well-structured problems with linear logic. The major constraint with this system is the concept of achieving knowledge by numbers.

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