Toward Polycontextually Sensitive Research Methods Article

Shapiro, DL, Von Glinow, MA, Xiao, Z. (2007). Toward Polycontextually Sensitive Research Methods . MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION REVIEW, 3(1), 129-152. 10.1111/j.1740-8784.2007.00058.x

cited authors

  • Shapiro, DL; Von Glinow, MA; Xiao, Z


  • In this paper we introduce the concept of ‘polycontextuality which refers to multiple and qualitatively different contexts embedded within one another. We distinguish polycontextuality from the singularly contextual types of description typically provided by social scientists, and use the case of China to elucidate polycontextual phenomena. Polycontextuality can include verbal- and non-verbal nuances whose understanding is rooted in local, cognitive, emotional and even spiritual references - most of which cannot be easily observed or historically studied. For this reason we recommend the polycontexual sensitive research method to supplement the scientific deductive research typically designed to study observable phenomena based on a singular context (e.g. verbal) that are controllable by the researcher's stimuli and/or measures. Actions for increasing scholars’ polycontextual sensitivity are suggested, and guidelines for the scholar interested in doing high quality indigenous research are offered, using the case of China for illustrative purposes. © 2007 The Authors Journal compilation © 2007, Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 129

end page

  • 152


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