Theme XIV. Research Methods in Macroeconomics

Methodology, methods, technical research

Getting a well - designed macroeconomic strategy depends largely on the used methods. From the outset it should be emphasized that scientific research methods are used only in the context of an appropriate theory. This statement means that we cannot use any method regardless theoretical interpretation of the studied processes.

The methods are designed and used in relation to a well specified methodology. The methodology is the theory related to methods, techniques, procedures, formulas used in scientific research. In Greek, the word "metodos," means "path." Aristotle divided the "things" into two groups:

1) those that exist in nature, that have their principle (foundation, base of their beings), their existence ("arhe") to themselves;

2) those that exist only by their nature (substance they are made of its nature), but have their principle of existence in "tehne" (skill, art, crafts) used by humanity in its manufacturing process ("poiezis").

"A human being is born from a human being but a bed is not made from a bed" ... Therefore, wood is nature "because, if it germinates,* it would not give birth to a bed, but a tree.[1] "But how we use the "technics" is not arbitrary. "Metodos" requires considering the realities to which we refer. Aristotle makes an interesting analysis of how a doctor proceeds when he wants to heal a patient (analysis that we could take it as inspiration source for understanding how an economist seeks to "treat" an economy.) "The healing is not understood as the road that leads us to the art of healing, but to health. Indeed necessarily the healing starts with the art of healing, but does not lead to the art of healing."[2]

The healing does not have as cause the art of healing, but the way your body responds to taken measures. The economist is also a man who has principle ("arhe") to create a new reality, "to cure" a sick economy, to strengthen economic through the art ("tehne") which possess, following a road ("odos") specific to its field. "Tehne," acting as "creative understanding,"[3] is at the disposal of the economist to lead him to achieve the image on the future economy. Acting as a theory about the method, the methodology will help us to decide from case to case, which method to use, which technical research and analysis are suitable for each particular situation.

In general, research methods can be divided into two broad categories: qualitative and quantitative methods.

Qualitative methods have the ability to feel, evaluate, typologize, prospect, classify or manage, link, etc. trends, characteristics, stages, actors and social forces that have, etc., while quantitative methods will help us to assess (as diagnosis) the level of process maturity, the share feature of factors, opinions, different groups, pace of change, the stage of changing at a given time. Obviously, in macroeconomic research, the studies are such that qualitative methods will prevail. However, it requires us to succeed in judiciously combining qualitative methods, which will help developing guidelines strategies to better understanding of what is possible, affordable or desirable, with quantitative methods, able to mark convergence or deviations of real process from the projected ones. In this book we will treat some of the qualitative methods such as analysis of macroeconomic models, scenarios prospective analysis, typology, SWOT analysis, PEST analysis, focus analysis, case studies and quantitative methods that we speak of questionnaires.

  • [1] Aristotle (1966), Physics. Bucharest: Scientific Publishing House, 35 (see also Heidegger, Martin (1988), Discourse on Thinking, Bucharest: Political Publishing House, translation and introductive notes by Thomas Kleininger, Gabriel Liiceanu, 260 - 263) (*-if we put a wood bed in the ground).
  • [2] Ibid., 35.
  • [3] This is the translation (well chosen) of term "tehne" given by those who have cared for and interpreted the texts from Heidegger, 249.
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