The congregational life


The purpose of my study is to explore the relationship between a congregational contextual theology and culture and corruption and social capital. This means that my research paradigm is congregational paradigm. This paradigm calls for an in-depth, disciplined, theological exploration of congregational life (Carroll 1986: 8; Ammerman 1998: 10). The congregational life is treated as a theology and a culture in itself that has a bearing, not only on its members, but on the outsiders as well. The focus congregation is a mega-Pentecostal congregation in the heart of Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia.

In his book Practical Theology (2005) Terry Veling describes a research as a journey towards the unknown (Veling, 2005: 215). In such a journey the destination is not clear and we do not know the way we going to take and the challenges we are going to face. However, this journey can be undertaken if there is a proper sense of direction. The aim of this paper is to explore the possible research methodology for my study, a research methodology that will bring the best possible results. I shall begin by demarcating the research parameters. Here I shall discuss my understanding of the term 'methodology' and the justification of my focus congregation. The second section will focus on case study approach and why it is appropriate for my research. The third section will discuss the ethnographic methodology as the best tool for congregational study.

The Research Parameters

The terms 'method' and 'methodology' are used synonymously and interchangeably'. There is, however, a difference between a research method and research methodology. According to Swinton and Mowat:

Methods are specific techniques that are used for data collection and analysis. They comprise a series of clearly defined, disciplined and systematic procedures that the researcher uses to accomplish a particular task ... Methodology is connected to method, but in a particular way. The term 'methodology' has a number of different meanings. Formally it relates to the study methods. More broadly, the term methodology has to do with an overall approach to a particular field (Swinton & Mowat 2006: 74-75).

In other word method refers to the technique or the way data is collected while methodology is the research approach and theoretical framework of the researcher (Harvey & McDonald 1993, 2). The research methods that one uses depend largely on the type of research to be carried out. The most important questions influencing one's choice of methodology are what phenomenon is being studied and why. In other words, the choice of the methodology depends on the nature of the central research question or the subject area, "The research strategy or strategies, and the methods or techniques employed, must be appropriate for the questions you want to answer" (Robinson 2002: 80). As Brannick wrote:

Research methodology is essentially a decision-making process. Each decision made is affected by, and in turn, influences every other decision. It is a system of decisions, all of which are interrelated. The one decision that focuses, and to a large extent drives all the rest, is the definition of the research question (Brannick 1997 in McMahon, 2007; cf. also Cresswell 1998: 17).

Guba and Lincoln contend that before considering the question of research method one has to consider the "basic belief system or worldview that guides the investigator" (Guba & Lincoln 1994: 105). This question is important because different methods have different epistemological positions. According to Pratt, "These "basic beliefs" are at best statements of faith ... They are starting points that dictate the use of any methodological instrument" (Pratt 2007: 16). The assumptions that most clearly reveal the basic beliefs that lie behind and support the research are: ontological, epistemological, axiological, methodological, and rhetorical

  1. Ontological. "What is the form or nature of reality and, therefore, what is there that can be known about it?"
  2. Epistemological. "What is the nature of the relationship between the knower or would-be knower and what can be known?"
  3. Methodological. "How can the inquirer (would-be-knower) go about finding out whatever he or she believes can be known?" (Guba & Lincoln 1994: 108).
  4. Axiology. "What is intrinsically worthwhile about this knowledge?" (Herron & Reason 1997: 7).

My focus congregation is a congregation that is in a position to have an influence on the quality of life of the members of the local community. The most powerful tool for understanding congregational dynamics and that is applicable to understanding the experience of another is the qualitative-ethnographic research, specially, the case study methodology.

Qualitative-Ethnographic Method

Yin argues that, contrary to popular conception, a case study does not use one type of evidence. Case studies can be done using either qualitative or quantitative method (Yin 1981: 58). Again, case studies do not use one way of collecting data. In his words "A common misconception is that case studies are solely the result of ethnographies or of participant observation, yet it should be quickly evident that numerous case studies have been done without using these methods ..." (Yin 1981: 58). Let me start by pointing out that my research will involve an ethnographic case study of a Pentecostal congregation, and, as such, will interweave participant observation.

Ethnography is a systematic study of a particular group or phenomenon, based upon extensive fieldwork. The foundational question in ethnography is: What are the cultural characteristics of this group of people or of this cultural scene? Since ethnography is originally an anthropological discipline, the concept of culture is very important indeed.

Arnould (1998) gives an apt summary of ethnography:

  • Ethnography should aim to explain the ways that culture constructs and is constructed by the behaviours and experiences of its members.
  • Ethnography involves prolonged participation within a specific culture or sub-culture.
  • Ethnography in consumer research tends to be particularistic rather than generalisable, espousing pluralistic accounts of consumption.
  • The potential for ethnography lies in applying multiple data collection methods at a single phenomenon. These may range from surveys to observational data, video tapes, photographs and recordings of speech in action.
  • Ethnography requires tactics for representing research findings. These representations should aim to unravel the layered meanings that marketing activities hold for the customer (Arnould 1998 in Goulding 2005: 299).

In practical theology it is understood as a way of 'swimming' in the theological and cultural waters of a people "to get the undercurrents in the life of the community ..." (Moschella 2008: 6). Moschella says "Ethnography as a pastoral practice involves opening your eyes and ears to understand the ways in which people practice their faith" (2008: 4). Studying the undercurrents of the community will not make them subside but will just make them less mysterious. As Moschella says:

Leaders who use ethnographic research can come to understand the currents of institutional life and how they can suddenly become treacherous. The forceful waters doesn't go away as a result of studying it and being aware of it, but the study can help you learn how to navigate in it. When you learn a bit about the local community, its history and ecology, its beauty and its hidden currents, you will find out how to navigate in these particular waters, ... (Moschella 2008: 7).

The other distinctive element of ethnographic research is its focus on cultural-interpretation "Cultural interpretation involves the ability to describe what the researcher has heard and seen within the framework of the social group's view reality" (Fetterman 1989: 28). Like Moschella I would like to understand culture holistically as the stories that guide our lives, the systems and symbols that we believe in and live out through our actions. Our cultural stories are intertwined with power relations. Ethnographers set out to study all of this - cultural stories, theologies, and artifacts, human actions and interactions, and the power arrangements that are intertwined with these (Moschella 2008: 27-28).

Cultural interpretation is only possible if data is collected in natural settings, that is, in fieldwork. Ethnographic fieldwork involves documenting people's beliefs and practices from the people's own perspective. Fieldwork approach is motivated by the belief that peoples' beliefs and practices cannot be divorced from their context. This means that ethnography interpreters culture from the emic or the insider's perspective of reality and also from an etic or the outsider's or the external perspective. The ethnographer's task is not only to include insiders' meanings, but to translate these meanings into concepts that can be understood by individuals outside the society. James Spradley said that ethnographic research helps us understand "how other people see their experience" (Spradley 1979: iv). To accomplish that goal, Spradley continues, "rather than studying people, ethnographic means learning from people" (Spradley 1979: 3).

Ethnographic Methods:

The main tool in ethnographic research is observation. Ethnographic observation is more than gazing, watching or looking at a phenomenon. In ethnographic observation the researcher is 'interested' in understanding and interacting with the phenomenon in order to understand the insider, or emic experience. As Kane and O'Reily points out:

Participant observation should not be confused with frequent visits, staying in a place while administering a survey, or generally just 'being there' and mixing with local people. Participant observation requires prolonged contact, either by living in a community or participating regularly in activities (Kane & O'Reily 2001: 101).

Ethnographic or participant observation "refers to the process in which an investigator establishes and sustains a many-sided and relatively long-term relationship with a human community in its natural setting for the purpose of developing a scientific understanding of that community" (Lofland & Lofland 1984 in Singh 1997: 57). According to Singh the difference between ethnographic observation and other methodologies is that ethnographic observation it focuses on the phenomenon in its own time and space (Singh 1997: 57; cf. Moschella 2008: 70). Hopewell gives advice to researchers of congregational life when he wrote "The fullest and most satisfying way to study the culture of a congregation is to live within its fellowship and learn directly how it interprets its experience and generates its behavior" (Hopewell 1987: 88).

Ethnographic observation is one of the most powerful tools in understanding congregational life (Thumma 1998: 203). "This method allows the researcher to detect and participate firsthand in subtle nonverbal patterns of interaction, symbolic rituals, and power relations" (Thumma 1998: 203; cf. also Bless & Achola 1990: 86-87). It also provides a scientific interpretation of the "works" and "fruits" of congregational life (Thumma 1998: 203). Mowat and Swinton make this important point that in ethnographic research the people are not the objects of research but are subjects and co-researchers (Swinton & Mowat 2006: 24). According to Carroll participant observation is the best way to gather information on the processes in a congregation:

Sometimes it is called "sensing", since all of the senses are significant elements of participation: watching, listening, touching, tasting, smelling, feeling. As one participates in the life of a congregation certain effects are noticed that give clues to the functioning of the formal and informal processes in that system (Carroll 83).

However, ethnographic findings are criticised for its lack of generalization and representative value. Unlike survey and other related researches, ethnographic results cannot be said to representative and, thus, cannot be generalised to formulate general principles and theories (Singh 1997: 58). In my view the case study that I have chosen provides the representativeness and generalisation the ethnographic observation lacks. The case study provides a representativeness that is different from quantitative representativeness. According to Hamel the representativeness of the case study comes from the description of an object of study, through an "ideal local unit" with reference to depth and totality (Hamel 1993 in Singh 1997: 58). As Simboonath Singh puts it: "The sociological representativeness of the particular case study is best determined by the generalization value of the study. That is to say, generalization is made possible because it becomes clear in which respects each case is particular" (Singh 1997: 58).

Another ethnographic tool is the interview. As Moschella declared "Qualitative interviewing is one of the hallmark methods in ethnographic research" (Moschella 2008: 66). Interviews are different from conversations in that they are not mere question-and-answer sessions. Unlike a conversation an interview is formal and has a purpose and produces results that has social value (Swinton & Mowat 2006: 64). An interview is a conversation with purpose. According to Swinton and Mowat interviews "are concentrated human encounters that take place between the researcher who is seeking knowledge and the research participant who is willing to share their experience and knowledge" (Swinton & Mowat 2006: 63). It is "one of the most common and powerful ways in which we try and understand our fellow human beings. Increasingly, researchers are realising that interviews are not neutral tools of data gathering but active interactions between two (or more people) leading to negotiated, contextually based results" (Denzin & Lincoln 2000: 646).

The aim of ethnographic interviews is to understand the participant's meanings, interpretations and perspectives of the phenomenon (Swinton & Mowat 2006: 63-64). In ethnographic research interviews are important in that they provide information that is not accessible through participant observation and documents (Carroll et. al. 1986: 85). Again, "interviews provide an opportunity for clarity of expression and an exploration of relationships and complexity of ideas" (Carroll et. al. 1986: 85). Interviewing is also important because it allows the researcher access to individual and not community stories, different views and minority voices which is not possible with other methods (Thumma 1998: 203). In congregational study the "privacy of the interview can provide information that helps the interviewer to understand how the member believes the congregation "really" functions" (Carroll et. al. 1986: 85).

According to Thumma there are structured-interviews, unstructured-interviews, schedule-structured interviews and semi-structured interviews (Thumma 1998:206). A structured interview takes place when each question is planned, written in advance and asked in exactly the same way. As Denzin and Lincln said:

In a structured interview, the interviewer asks all respondents the same series of pre-established questions with a limited set of response categories. The interviewer records the responses according to a coding scheme that has already been established. There is very little flexibility in the way questions are asked or answered in the structured interview setting (Denzin & Lincoln 2000: 649).

In an unstructured interview the questions are general and they allow the respondent to be flexible in his or her answering. It starts "with a broad statement of task or common concern and lets the respondent take the discussion wherever seems appropriate ..." (Carroll et. al. 1986: 85). The structured and unstructured interviews are different in that the structured interview aims to capture precise data of a codable nature in order to explain behaviour within established categories, whereas the unstructured attempts to understand the complex behaviour of members of society without imposing a priori categorization that may limit the field of inquiry (Denzin & Lincoln 2000: 653)

A schedule-structured interview is basically a verbal questionnaire that asks a set of questions with a choice of a few fixed responses (Thumma 1998:206). This method has an established questionnaire, a set of questions with fixed wording, a sequence of presentation and more or less specific indications on how the questions should be answered (Bless & Achola 1990: 89).

Bless and Achola (1990) differentiate between a non-scheduled interview and a non-scheduled structured interview. A non-scheduled interview is "A method of getting people to express their views broadly on a certain issue ... which consist of asking respondents to comment on widely defined issues" (Bless & Achola 1990: 88). The respondents are free to expand on a topic, to focus on some of its aspects and to relate their own experiences (Bless & Achola 1990: 88). Sometimes there is need to have specific and detailed information which can help to compare the reactions of different respondents. In this case a non-scheduled structured interview is carried out because it has a precise goal and fixed questions (Bless & Achola 1990: 88). According to Bless and Achola, "It is structured in the sense that a list of issues which have to be investigated in [is] made prior to the interview ... But it is a non-scheduled structured interview in the sense that the interviewer is free to formulate other questions as judged appropriate for the given situation" (Bless & Achola 1990: 88).

A semi-structured interview "allows for planned questions around specific issues and general items but also employs the freedom of an unstructured approach" (Thumma 1998:206). De Vos et al. (2005:296) write that semi-structured interviews are employed to gain a detailed picture of a participant's beliefs about, or perceptions or accounts of, a particular phenomenon. They are suitable where there is interest in complexity or process, or where an issue is controversial or personal. In my research I intend to use semi-structured interviews since it allows an open-ended discussion.

The Case Study Approach

According to Zainal "Case study refers to the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, frequently including the accounts of subjects themselves" (Zainal (2007: 1). Robert Yin describes a case study as "an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence" (Yin 1989: 22-26). Case studies, then, are concerned with how and why things happen with special focus on investigating the contextual realities (Anderson 1993: 152-160). Anderson says that a case study is not focused on the entire organisation but on a particular issue, feature or unit of analysis (Anderson 1993: 152-160). Case studies are used to explore and investigate particular phenomenon in-depth and holistically within its real-life through a contextual analysis of events or conditions and their relationship to other social facts (Patton 1987: 18-20). This in-depth study "is obtained by the minute detail of the questioning, the multiplicity of sources consulted, and a long time spent in the field" (Zonabed, 1952 in Singh 1997: 57). Winston Tellis said that "case study is done by giving special attention to completeness in observation, reconstruction, and analysis of the cases under study. Case study is done in a way that incorporates the views of the "actors" in the study" (Tellis 1997a & 1997b [online]). In support of this point Singh wrote:

The case study, then, with its emphasis on details as opposed to statistical generalizations - the hallmark of quantitative/survey research - can take into account the viewpoint of the social actors themselves, and the meaning they attribute to their own actions ... . More importantly, the holistic and in-depth character of the case study may stimulate additional research from which more general insights might evolve. That is to say, although the findings from a case study cannot be assumed to be representative, and, as a result, cannot be generalized to formulate general principles and theories, it remains true that theoretical insights and theories have their genesis in the analysis of a single case (Singh 1997: 58).

According to Robert Yin the distinguishing characteristics of case studies is that "the case study is that it attempts to examine: (a) a contemporary phenomenon in its real-life context, especially when (b) the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident" (Yin 1981: 59 [emphasis original]).

According to Yin there are different categories of case studies. Using what he calls "a 2x3 matrix" Yin identifies three categories of case studies, namely, exploratory, descriptive and explanatory case studies (Yin, 2003: 5).[1] First, explanatory case study explains how a decision or event happened in the way it did. It explores the cause-effect relationships. " An explanatory case study consists of: (a) an accurate rendition of the facts of the case, (b) some consideration of alternative explanations of these facts, and (c) a conclusion based on the single explanation that appears most congruent with the facts" (Yin 1981: 61). Rubin and Babbie (2001:123) reckon that exploratory studies aim at gaining insight into a relatively new and unstudied.

Second, a descriptive case study seeks to describe under-researched phenomena it by portraying an accurate profile of persons, events or situations, it provides a complete description of a phenomenon within its context (Bless & Achola 1990: 41). Descriptive case studies require that the investigator begin with a descriptive theory that supports the description of the phenomenon, otherwise problems will occur during the project (Zainal (2007: 3; Umit 2005: 2).

Third, exploratory case study seeks to find out what is happening, to seek new insights, to ask questions and to assess phenomena in a new light (Bless & Achola 1990: 41). In exploratory case studies, fieldwork, and small scale data collection may be conducted before the research questions and hypotheses defined (Zainal 2007: 1; Umit 2005: 2).

Yin argues that these categories should not be viewed hierarchically:

A common misconception is that the various research strategies should be arrayed hierarchically. Thus, we were once taught to believe that case studies were appropriate for the exploratory phase of an investigation that surveys and histories were appropriate for the descriptive phase, and that experiments were the only way of doing exploratory or causal inquiries (Yin 1984:15).

Further, according to Yin (1984) three types of arguments against case study research. case studies are sometimes accused of being flexible, "too many times, the case study investigator has been sloppy, and has allowed equivocal evidence or biased views to influence the direction of the findings and conclusions" (Yin 1984:21).

Again, case studies are difficult to generalise scientifically because they use a small number of subjects and some of them are conducted with only one subject. "How can you generalise from a single case?" (Yin 1984:21). The major criticism against the case study methodology is "its dependence on a single case renders it incapable of providing a generalizing conclusion" (Tellis 1997a [online]). Some scholars like Giddens argue that it is "microscopic" because it "lacked a sufficient number" of cases (Tellis 1997a [online]). However, Hamel and Yin have argued that even with a study with multiple cases can be microscopic if it does not establish parameters and meet the intended objective (Tellis 1997a [online]). Having a lot of cases to study does not make a study macroscopic. Thirdly, as Zainal says, "case studies are often labelled as being too long, difficult to conduct and producing a massive amount of documentation ... In particular, case studies of ethnographic or longitudinal nature can elicit a great deal of data over a period of time. The danger comes when the data are not managed and organised systematically" (Zainal 2007: 5).

A case study has several advantages. First, it enables the researcher to gain a holistic view of a certain phenomenon or series of events... and can provide a round picture since many sources of evidence were used (Noor 2005: 1603). Second, the examination of the data is most often conducted within the situation in which the activity takes place (Zainal 2007: 4). According to Eisenhardt, this helps a lot in generating new theories through the analysis of different views and is likely to be empirically valid and testable because it is tied to the evidence (Eisenhardt 1989). Third, a case study provides an opportunity to understand the totality of an individual experience. Fourth, case study is also useful when the researcher has little or no possibility to control or manipulate the events. Fifth, as Jonathan Pratt says case studies are very effective in explaining the reasons for a problem, the background of a situation, what happened and why. They can also explain why an innovation worked or failed to work, and they can discuss and evaluate alternatives not chosen. They can even assist evaluations, summarisations, and conclusions, and thus increase the potential application of the case study (Pratt 2007: 23).

Case study is relevant to my research because it will assist me to investigate how a particular Pentecostal culture and contextual theology relate to the problem of corruption. My purpose is to ask the questions that lead to an understanding of the nature and complexity of the processes taking place within the congregation. Yin says:

... "how" and "why" questions are more explanatory and likely to lead to the use of case studies... as the preferred research strategies. This is because such questions deal with operational links needing to be traced over time, rather than mere frequencies or incidence' (Yin 2003: 38).

The use of a single-case study can be rationalised in particular situations (Yin 1993: 38-41). This is the most appropriate study in a research that does not seem to have tried models and definite theories. The Pentecostal congregation that I have selected as my focus congregation is a "revelatory case", since to my knowledge the phenomena of Pentecostalism's engagement with corruption has not previously been examined. Yin explains that under this circumstance a single-case study is "worth conducting because the descriptive information alone will be revelatory" and because of the possibility of it stimulating further research and policy development in the area (Yin 1993: 41). An alternative would have been to conduct multiple cases. Yet the diversity evident across global Pentecostalism thwarts the notion of finding a 'generic' Pentecostal church.

In Yin's terminology, my research can best be described as descriptive-explorative research. The purpose of a descriptive-explorative research is to (1) describe a phenomenon and, (2) explore factors that influence and interact with it. The objectives of this research fit well with descriptive-exploratory research. They include describing the culture and contextual theology of the congregation and explore how these two lead to bonding/erosion of social capital and whether this has a positive/negative effect on members' perception of corruption. Again, an exploratory study is undertaken to investigate a previously unknown phenomenon (Polit & Hungler 1999: 17-18; Durrheim 1999: 39). In this research exploratory research will be used to explore the perceptions, experiences, concerns and expectations of the members on the effect of the congregation's culture and theology towards the fight against corruption. A descriptive research presents the detailed picture of the phenomenon, its social context and relationship with other social factors. Descriptive research will be used to describe the ecological, cultural, resource and process features of the congregation.

There is a three way theory that is used in a case study, (1) The theory testing case study, (2) The theory building case studies (grounded theory method) and (3) Clinical case studies. My research will be a theory building case study that will make use of the grounded theory as analytical tool.

Data Analysis - Grounded Theory Method:

Grounded theory is a "general methodology for developing theory that is grounded in data systematically gathered and analysed" (Strauss & Corbin 1994: 2783). At the centre of this theory is, "the grounding of theory upon data through data-theory interplay, the making of constant comparisons, the asking of theoretically oriented questions, theoretical coding, and the development of theory" (Strauss & Corbin 1994: 2783).

The foundational question in grounded theory is: What theory can extracted from an analysis of the data collected about this phenomenon? Unlike studies that intend to prove a predetermined hypothesis, grounded theory begins with the data, looks for patterns and regularities, formulates tentative hypothesis for further investigation, and then develops some general conclusions or theories. The analytic process moves from the bottom up, from specific observations to broader generalisations and theories. This movement, from data to theory, has been dubbed grounded theory (Glaser & Srauss 1967: 1). Grounded theory involves a 'constant comparative technique' that seeks to discover 'deviant cases' in order to develop and refine the theoretical framework. This point goes against the view that grounded theory is a search for data that confirm a theoretical argument.

Grounded theory allows for the generation of a theory from the data: Grounded theory is a methodology based on theory development from data that are collected and analysed systematically and recursively. It is a way of thinking about or conceptualising data as the essential element from which the theory evolves. .. this inductive analytical process involves a constant interplay between data collection and data analysis (Rafus & Moon 1996 in Scuse, 1998: 75).

The grounded theory begins with "the identification of an area of interest and data collection" (Goulding 1999: 8). Once an area of research has been identified and demarcated, the researcher should immediately begin the fieldwork (Goulding 2005: 296). As a result there is no exhaustive literature review before the commencement of the research. The literature is just consulted as a part of the process of data collection, analysis and interpretation (Goulding 2005: 296). A common misconception is that the researcher is expected to begin the fieldwork ignorant of any theory or associated literature relating to the phenomenon and wait for the theory to emerge purely from the data. The second stage of grounded theory is "interpreting the data and further data collection" (Goulding 1999: 8). As the data is collected it is analysed and all possible dimensions of interpretation are explored. This entails using coding procedures that begin with open-coding (Goulding 1999: 9). Open coding is the reading of transcripts line-by- line and identifying and coding the concepts that may offer an explanation of the phenomenon under study (Goulding 1999: 9; 2005: 297). Apart from coding the researcher can make use of memos, that is, recording events that keep track of ideas.

The third stage is "theorertical sampling" (Goulding 1999: 9). Sampling in grounded theory is unique as Gouding says: most sampling is purposive and defined before data collection commences. In the case of grounded theory, sampling begins as a "commonsense" process of talking to those informants who are most likely to provide early information. This information is then analysed through the application of open coding techniques, or line-by-line analysis (looking for words and sentences in the text that have meaning), which should help to identify provisional explanatory concepts and direct the researcher to further "theoretically" identified samples, locations, and forms of data (Goulding 2005: 296).

The final stage is "Concept and category development" (Goulding 1999: 9). The grounded theory process is "complete" when there are no new concepts are emerging from the data. At this stage a core category is constructed that pulls together all the concepts in order to offer an explanation of the phenomenon. This core category should be traceable back through the data (Goulding 2005: 297).

In my research I shall employ the grounded theory to analyse data from a case study. Grounded theory is mostly suitable when collection of data is prior to the development of theory. According to Eisenhardt there are three advantages of combining case study and grounded theory: (a) the process of reconciling 'contradictory or paradoxical evidence' is likely to produce a theory "with less researcher bias than theory built from incremental studies or armchair, axiomatic deduction" (Eisenhardt 1989: 546), (b) due to the close connection between theory and data it is likely that the theory can be further tested and expanded by subsequent studies (Eisenhardt 1989: 547), (c) "This closeness can lead to an intimate sense of things that often produces theory which closely mirrors reality" (Eisenhardt 1989: 547). Lehmann concurs with Eisenhardt:

Applying Grounded Theory to Case Study was very successful. It produced a prolific amount and yielded a great richness of information ... The case settings, furthermore, contained more varied than could be expected from individual, purely homocentric studies. Efficiency and abundance combined to make this method an exceedingly fruitful one (Lehmann 2001: 87).


This paper attempted to provide justification for my unique research methodology - an ethnographic case study of a Pentecostal congregation, interwoven with participant observation and grounded theory. When combining research methods in the way that I discussed in this paper needs utmost care to make sure that the principles of each and every method do not distort or interfere with principles of a holistic, objective and contextual study. In some instances the case study data goes against a key principle of grounded theory that is the collection of data before the development of theory. In my view before collecting data a research must have a clear methodology that will enable him or her to explore the phenomenon in-depth.


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  • Stake included three other types of case study. First, the intrinsic case study is a study in which the researcher wants a better understanding of the particular case. In the instrumental the case the aim is to understand what is more than obvious to the observer and, third, the collective where a researcher investigates phenomena or a group of cases (Stake 2000, in Tellis 1997a & 1997b).

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