Theoretical Rotation as a Tool for Identifying Points of Leverage in People's Perspectives for Program Improvement

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Brett Kramer
Virginia Gravina


This paper's main objective is to provide a specific example of a research
context in which theoretical rotation (also referred to as judgmental,
geographic, or hand rotation) was justified and pursued. The paper
specifically illustrates 1) how the authors determined theoretical
rotation criteria; 2) the process by which these criteria guided the
rotation; and 3) why this was more statistically, theoretically, and
pragmatically satisfying than using varimax rotation. The case focused
on the social, economic, and contextual reasons why some farmers in
Uruguay declined to participate in a dairy herd improvement project,
called the genetic registry. Q methodology was used to cast
non-participating farmers' perspectives in relation to those of program
planners. Because the unrotated factor matrix supported program planners
loading on the same factor, theoretical rotation was used to retain as
many program planners as possible on the same factor. By following this
rotational scheme, one functional perspective was most heavily populated
with program planners; the result was a data solution that contrasted
the program personnel's viewpoint with that of the other three views
that emerged in the rotation, all of which were populated entirely by
farmers. Practical implications point to the suitability and power of
theoretical rotation versus varimax rotation in Q methodology when the P
set "matters". That is, it matters when Q methodology is used
intentionally to keep one set of respondents on the same factor in order
to contrast their shared perspective with other attitudes that emerge
in the study. The result is contrasting functional perspectives and the
identification of leverage points between the view that represent points
of convergence and divergence.

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How to Cite
Kramer, B., & Gravina, V. (2004). Theoretical Rotation as a Tool for Identifying Points of Leverage in People’s Perspectives for Program Improvement. Operant Subjectivity, 27(3). Retrieved from