An evolutionary approach commits the research to three methodological tenets:

1. Evolution is a temporal process, and as such the method employed must tract the development of the phenomenon under investigation over time. In qualitative research, this includes approaches such as longitudinal ethnographies, case-studies, and even experimental designs. In survey-based research, this includes the use of panel surveys.

2. The evolutionary approach assumes that some 'thing' is evolving. Depending on the researcher's conceptualization of the phenomenon under investigation, methods must be designed in order to capture its changing state. For example, if one wishes to study a group routine, and conceptualises this, as a duality of ostensive understandings and performative actions, then methods need to capture those understandings perhaps through interviews, and those actions through observations.

3. Co-evolutionary processes entail the additional dimension of social interactions. Methods therefore need to focus on identifying and tracking such relationships over time. Observations can be an effective way of monitoring interactions, especially when supported by audio or visual recordings. For large scale interactions, modelling techniques can be very effective, and when validated with empirical data, can be powerful decision support tools for managers.

Recommended Readings

Breslin, D. (2016). What Evolves in Organizational Coevolution. Journal of Management & Governance, 20(1), pp.1-17

The paper further explores key methodological issues relating to the development of different approaches to studying organizational evolution, making a contribution not only to co-evolutionary research but to broader research in business and management.

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