The case for “3D triangulation” when applied to construction management research

Edwards, David J. and Holt, Gary David (2010) The case for “3D triangulation” when applied to construction management research. Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management, 10 (1). pp. 25-41. ISSN 1471-4175

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Purpose – Construction management research (CMR) embraces many research paradigms and resultantly, methodological debate can proliferate. Triangulation is one specific method employed and this too has attracted discussion. This paper aims to subjectively but critically assess the role of triangulation within CMR. Resultantly, a “3D triangulation” (3DT) decision support model is proffered whose purpose is to improve triangulation's use.

Design/methodology/approach – Following review of CMR methodological debate and the (multidisciplinary) application of triangulation to research; case study examples of triangulation applied among a sample of published CMR papers are observed in subjective detail, and contrasted with the invited opinions of researchers.

Findings – Triangulation is adduced as a methodological aspect of many CMR studies – but researchers' perceptions of how it should fit within a research design and the extent to which it can contribute or should be relied upon – is varied. The authors' viewpoint is that triangulation use in CMR could sometimes be afforded more thought; and the decision to use it, be better “justified” within the broader methodological context. Accordingly, a 3DT decision support model is developed to assist in these objectives.

Practical implications – It is argued that 3DT can lend toward a more robust methodological design, in the context of applying triangulation to CMR specifically, and management research generally.

Originality/value – The 3DT model is entirely novel and evolves as a result of this specific study alone.

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