The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 4, Number 1, October. 2005

ISSN 1602-2297

Critical Realism as an Approach to Unfolding Empirical Findings: Thoughts on Fieldwork in South Africa
on Smes and Environment

Søren Jeppesen
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, Denmark

Abstract: The International Industry, Environment and Development literature only provides limited examples of systematic application of theoretical and methodological frameworks when investigating company motives for conducting environmental management. Concerning Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), the Environment and Development literature contributions have tended to be pre-occupied with policy orientation and have been quite slack on fulfilling scientific requirements concerning the formulation of research designs, the collection of data and analysis. The author uses his PhD project on Environmental practices in manufacturing SMEs in South Africa as an example of how a match between research questions, methodology, theory and fieldwork design can be obtained. The author discusses the general implications of this ‘fieldwork’ premise and exemplifies how the application of a Critical Realist Perspective can make up for a part of this caveat in the social science field of Industry, Environment and Development.a

Keywords: Fieldwork, methodology, Critical Realism, SMEs and Environment, South Africa

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