Units of analysis

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    Akrivi Papadaki

    I am looking at the role of employees (organised in teams) in innovation (perceptions of their role, the process and decision making at senior level) and my question is whether the group or the process should be the level of analysis. The confusion stems from the fact that innovation research is organised in innovativeness stream (with individual, group, organisational levels of analysis and based in variance studies) and process theory stream (with process as unit of analysis with more qualitative studies).

    My understanding is that the process theory stream is considered to be an advancement from the innovativeness stream as it takes into account the complexity of the innovation process rather than considering innovation as an outcome.
    My research is a qualitative one and I consider the group as the most appropriate unit of analysis.

    However, this choice does not exactly fit with the literature as organised at the moment. Is it something I am missing?


    I’d say that there are two distinct perspectives here. You could consider this as multilevel in either of two ways:
    1) groups / teams contain individuals nested within them, and individuals can be studied on a number of occasions (again nested within individuals). This is the approach taken by work in education which examines the relative importance of schools and classes to the achievement of children.
    2) processes contain sub-processes / tasks nested within them, and tasks contain sub-tasks / activities nested within them.

    These are just two different ways of considering the stream of experience of people working within teams. I’d suggest that they are alternative ways of framing your data rather than options to combine. Different literatures will have different preferences, and I don’t really see why you have to make a choice from the outset.

    Professor Paul Jackson
    Manchester Business School

    Akrivi Papadaki

    Thank you very much for your reply. It is most helpful. My aim is to explore the role of individuals acting as a team (rather than individuals) in innovation implementation, so I suppose the most appropriate perspective for my research would be the second one you mentioned (processes-tasks-activities).

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