Phenomenology “Phenomenology advocates the scientific study of immediate experiences and focuses on events, occurrences and happenings as one experiences them, with a minimum of regard for the external, physical reality” (Fellows and Liu, 2008, p.70)

In other words, in phenomenology studies ideas are generated from rich amount of data by the means of induction and human interests, as well as stakeholder perspective may have their reflection on the study.

The main advantages and disadvantages associated with positivism and phenomenology are presented on the following table by Armstrong (2010) as taken from Easterby-Smith et al (1991).

Advantages Disadvantages
Wide coverage of the range of situations Methods tend to be flexible and artificial
Can be fast and economical Not very effective in understanding processes or the significance people attach to actions
May be relevant to policy decisions when statistics are exaggerated in large samples Not very helpful in generating theories
Because it focuses on what is or what has been recently, it makes it hard for policy makers to infer what actions should take place in the future
Can look at change processes over time Data gathering can take up a great deal of time and resources
Help to understand people’s meanings The analysis and interpretation of data may be difficult
Help to adjust to new issues and ideas as they emerge May be harder than positivist approach to control pace, progress and end points
Contribute to the development of new theories Policy-makers may give low credibility to a phenomenological study
Gather data which is seen as natural rather than artificial

Source: Armstrong (2010), as taken from Easterby-Smith et al (1991)



  • Fellows, R & Liu, A. (2008) “Research methods for construction” John Wiley & Sons