Grounded theory: a theory discovery method for accounting research

Joanne Lye, Hector Perera, Asheq Rahman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Social scientists have been recognising the shortcomings of the scientific methodology for quite some time. The main shortcoming, according to them, has been the oversimplified deductive approach to theory development that has been adopted in the scientific methods. The oversimplification occurs because some of the essential variables of reality are assumed to be constants. In a similar vein, reseachers in social science have often been making calls for the adoption of the naturalistic approach to study complex human penomena. We believe the construction of accounting phenomena belongs to this category, and suggest the use of the naturalistic approach to examine them as they may not be examinable by the structured theory driven scientific approach. Within the naturalistic domain, we propose the use of a method of research called the Grounded Theory method. The rationale behind the Grounded Theory method is that theory should be grounded in empirical evidence, i.e. evolve from data, rather than be developed a priori and then be tested. Since its introduction in the 1960s, the grounded theory method has found favour in many other disciplines, such as nursing, sociology and organisation studies. This chapter suggests Grounded Theory method could be a viable alternative available to accounting researchers to examine complex phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethodological issues in accounting research
Subtitle of host publicationtheories, methods and issues
EditorsZahirul Hoque
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)1904905129
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • naturalistic research approach
  • grounded theory method
  • divergence of grounded theory method


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