Skip to main content

Table 2 Grand-theoretical traditions and their potential relevance to implementation science (adapted from Patton [51])

From: Harnessing the power of theorising in implementation science

PerspectiveDisciplinary rootsCentral questions relevant to implementation science
EthnographyAnthropologyWhat is the culture of a certain group of people (e.g. an organisation) involved in implementation? How does it manifest in the process of implementation?
Critical realismPhilosophy, social sciences and evaluationWhat are plausible explanations for verifiable patterns of implementation?
ConstructivismSociologyWhat are the implementation actors’ reported perceptions, explanations, beliefs, and worldviews? What consequences do these have on implementation?
PhenomenologyPhilosophyWhat is the meaning, structure, and essence of the lived experience of implementation for a certain group of people?
Symbolic interactionismSocial psychologyWhat common set of symbols and understandings has emerged to give meaning to people’s interactions in the process of implementation?
SemioticsLinguisticsHow do signs (i.e. words and symbols) carry and convey meaning in particular implementation contexts?
Narrative analysisSocial sciences, literary criticismWhat do stories of implementation reveal about implementation actors and contexts?
Complexity theoryTheoretical physics, natural sciencesWhat is the underlying order of any disorderly implementation phenomena?
Critical theoryPolitical philosophyHow do the experiences of inequality, injustice, and subjugation shape implementation?
Feminist inquiryInterdisciplinaryHow does the lens of gender shape and affect our understandings and actions in the process of implementation?