The sage dictionary of qualitative management research

Supply a justification for qualitative research in administrations

“ Qualitative research is a field of enquiry in its ain right. It crosscuts subjects, Fieldss and capable affairs. A complex, interrelated household of footings, constructs, and premises surround the term qualitative research. These include the traditions associated with foundationalism, positivism, postfoundationalism, postpositivism, poststructuralism, and the many qualitative research positions, and/or methods connected to cultural and interpretative surveies. ”

( Denzin and Lincoln, 2000:2 )

“ … qualitative research workers can entree intriguing informations by detecting everyday scenes or by happening mundane characteristics in extraordinary scenes. ”

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( Silverman, 2007:37 )

This essay provides a justification for the usage of qualitative research methods in administrations. In the yesteryear, qualitative research methods have ever been sidelined and quantitative research methods have been preferred for set abouting organizational research. One of the grounds for this is that qualitative research is ever influenced by the research worker ‘s personal temperament. Harmonizing to Creswell, “ Qualitative Research is a signifier of interpretative enquiry in which research workers make an reading of what they see, hear, and understand. Their readings can non be separated from their ain backgrounds, history, contexts, and anterior apprehensions. ” ( Creswell, 2009:176 ) Another ground for this is given by Silverman when he says that “ Policy shapers and directors have been pushed off from ethnographic research because it takes a comparatively long clip to finish and appears to utilize unrepresentative samples. Even though some ethnographers are able to bring forth powerful statements about what can be read from a individual, good researched, instance, others muddy the Waterss by political posturing and by proposing that they want no truck with conventional scientific criterions. ” ( Silverman, 2007:86 ) “ The ‘pull ‘ of quantitative research for administrations is that it tends to specify its research jobs in a manner that makes immediate sense to practicians and decision makers. ” ( Silverman, 2007:86 )

More late many administrations have started recognizing the virtues of utilizing qualitative research methods to set about research in the administration. Qualitative research methods enable a thorough examination of the researched subject which is non possible in quantitative research. Even within qualitative research, the research worker is provided with a huge scope of options and chances for researching diverse issues within the country of organizational research.

What are the different methods used to follow qualitative research?

The most commonly known and most used method of qualitative research is ethnography which had its beginnings in societal anthropology, with peculiar mention to the survey of the civilization of societal groups and societies. The civilization of a societal group is made up of these complex webs of significance and the cardinal undertaking of descriptive anthropology is to develop an reading and apprehension of civilization. ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008 ) Ethnography can be described as a longitudinal research method that is frequently associated with participant observation, but can besides pull on other research attacks such as contextual and historic analysis of secondary informations published by or on the group being studied. The ethnographic attack to developing an in-depth apprehension of people ‘s behavior makes it good suited to analyzing administrations. ( Marshan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004 ) But “ It bends world well to connote that descriptive anthropology is today the chief method of qualitative research and that experimental stuff is the chief informations beginning. This is barely surprising given the overplus of stuffs that invite our attending. These extend beyond what we can detect with our ain eyes to what we can hear and see on recordings, what we can read in paper paperss and electronically download on the cyberspace, to what we can deduce by inquiring inquiries in interviews or by supplying assorted stimulations to concentrate groups. ” ( Silverman, 2007:37 ) Grounded theory research, discourse analysis, deconstruction, content analysis, narrative method, action research ( Humphreys, 2006 ) , participatory question, participant observation ( Denzin and Lincoln, 2000 ) , autoethnography, questioning are merely a few of the current attacks to qualitative informations aggregation and analysis. All these methods are suitably used in different signifiers of organizational research. I will be looking at autoethnography, grounded theory research, critical discourse analysis and the narrative attack towards qualitative research and will analyze the usage of these methods in carry oning organizational research.


Ethnographers have started set abouting “ the observation of engagement ” where they reflect on and critically prosecute with their ain engagement within the ethnographic frame therefore giving birth to autoethnography. ( Denzin and Lincoln, 2005:467 ) Karra and Philips have defined autoethnography as, “ the coevals of theoretically relevant descriptions of a group to which one belongs based on a structured analysis of one ‘s experiences and the experiences of other ‘s from one ‘s group… It is an effort to bring forth sense from one ‘s experience of a group that can be set down in a text and shared with interested others. It does non intend that the research worker surveies merely himself or herself, but that the research worker is an insider who can pull upon personal experience, cultural competency, and lingual resources to border and determine research in a manner that an foreigner can non. ” ( Karra and Phillips, 2008:547 ) Autoethnography has been really expeditiously used by Karra and Phillips, in their article about international direction research workers carry oning surveies in their ain cultural context. They say that, “ … autoethnography provides a methodological frame for understanding and pull offing their research. Even more significantly, it acts to sensitise the research worker to the importance of carefully pull offing the complex kineticss of this signifier of cross-cultural research including inquiries of auctorial voice, function struggle, and power. ” ( Karra and Phillips, 2008:543 )

Autoethnographic attacks have four of import strengths- easiness of entree, reduced resource demands, easiness of set uping trust and resonance, and reduced jobs with translation- but at the same clip pose three of import challenges- deficiency of critical distance, function struggle, and the bounds of serendipity. ( Karra and Phillips, 2008:541 ) The strengths of this manner of research are considerable and despite all the unfavorable judgments this method of qualitative research has acquired it can be used really successfully in organizational research where the demand is to pull upon personal experiences. One of the utilizations of autoethnography is to let another individual ‘s universe of experience to animate critical contemplation on your ain. ( Ellis and Bochner, 1996:22 ) Experience is given a batch of importance in administrations and autoethnography enables the research worker and the administration to utilize this experience in a positive mode and in a manner which can be really good to the administration and its employees.

Grounded Theory

Grounded theory, developed by Glaser and Strauss, is a sort of theory generated from the informations collected. The methodological analysis refers to a manner of carry oning qualitative informations analysis whose purpose is to detect what sorts of constructs and hypotheses are relevant to the country one wishes to understand. Grounded theory, hence, provides new penetrations into the apprehension of societal procedures emerging from the context in which they occur, without coercing and seting the information to old theoretical models. ( Cassell and Symon, 2004:242 ) Grounded theory is a method that is more appropriate for some inquiries than others. It is most suitable to attempts to understand the procedure by which histrions construct intending out of intersubjective experience. Grounded theory should be used in a manner that is logically consistent with cardinal premises about societal world and how the world is known. It is less appropriate to utilize grounded theory when you seek to do cognition claims about an nonsubjective world, and more appropriate to make so when you want to do cognition claims about how persons interpret world. ( Suddaby, 2006:634 ) While the grounded theory attack appeared at a clip when methods discourse was unquestionably modernist, 40 old ages of development reflect he paradigmatic plurality of current qualitative research. ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008 )

The application of grounded theory in organizational research has been deriving popularity in recent times. This is because organizational psychological science has been marked by a tendency of traveling from an individualistic point of position towards a more corporate position. Grounded theory has been applied in surveies concentrating on organizational civilization, organizational growing, alteration and invention, squad work and company endurance to call a few. Grounded theory produces descriptions of organizational world which elicit positive treatments around of import subjects in the administration among the employees and, therefore, organize a footing for positive organizational development tendencies. ( Cassell and Symon, 2004 )

Critical Discourse Analysis

Harmonizing to Cunliffe, “ Discourse analysis is a term covering a figure of attacks to research that analyze linguistic communication usage. These attacks range from a focal point on linguistic communication itself, to a broader scrutiny of the relationship between linguistic communication usage, societal action and societal theory. ” ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008:81 ) Discourse analysis provides a theoretical and methodological model for researching the societal production of organisational and interorganizational phenomena. ( Phillips, Sewell and Jaynes, 2008:1 ) As a methodological analysis, critical discourse analysis allows for the usage of different sorts of methods in specific research undertakings. However, this sort of research in peculiar demands the ability to do sense of the linkages between specific textual features and peculiar discourses on the one manus, and between the discourses and the relevant socio-cultural patterns and historical developments on the other. This means that research of this type by and large tends to favor in-depth examination of and contemplation on specific texts. ( Marschan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004 )

Discourse analysis has become an progressively popular method for analyzing the lingual elements in the building of societal phenomena. It has been progressively adopted by organisation and direction bookmans interested in the societal building of specific organisational thoughts or patterns. ( Varra, Kleymann and Seristo, 2004:3 ) There are three of import jobs confronting research workers wishing to follow a critical discourse position in their work. First, like descriptive anthropology, discourse analysis consequences in rather drawn-out analyses that are frequently a hapless tantrum with the demands of journal editors. Second, discourse analysis frequently involves major data-management issues because of the volume of informations that is frequently available. Finally, as this is a reasonably new are of activity, there are few standard theoretical accounts available to follow. Developing advanced informations analysis techniques for each survey therefore remains a concluding challenge confronting research workers. ( Phillips, Sewell and Jaynes, 2008 )

Narrative Approach

Harmonizing to Oswick, “ Narratives are an inevitable and ineluctable facet of societal life and, as such, are built-in to the procedures of managing and organizing. ” ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008:141 ) Although the narrative attack is one with many virtues which are being acknowledged by research workers, it is still a field in the devising and is non really normally used. “ Researchers new to this field will happen a rich but diffuse tradition, multiple methodological analysiss in assorted phases of development, and plentifulness of chances for researching new thoughts, methods and inquiries. ” ( Denzin and Lincoln, 2005:651 )

A acknowledgment that discourse is the rule agencies by which organisation members create a consistent societal world that frames their sense of who they are has led to an increased involvement in narrative attacks in organisation surveies. A narrative attack explicitly recognizes that, in organisations, linguistic communication is the primary medium of societal control and power, and that the analysis of lingual patterns is cardinal to an apprehension of how existing societal and power dealingss are reproduced or transformed. ( Humphreys and Brown, 2007 ) In the article, “ An Analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility at Credit Line: A Narrative Approach ” by Humphreys and Brown ( 2008 ) , the writers adopted a narrative attack to the analysis of organisational procedures in a bank, Credit Line, in order to research how persons in a fiscal establishment dealt with comparatively fresh issues of corporate societal duty. The writers used narrations to successfully pull attending to the plurivocity of organizational life.

Use of qualitative research methods to set about organizational research in a public sector administration

Public sector administrations are those administrations which are managed by the authorities. The chief purpose of these administrations is non to do a net income but to supply a service to the people under the authorities. Some illustration of public sector administrations are airdromes, public infirmaries, railroad Stationss, authorities tally schools and colleges. Governments presents are looking to privatise most of the populace sector administrations in order to increase their efficiency and effectivity. Therefore most of the above given illustrations have now been partly or wholly privatised in most states.

Public sector administrations are common evidences for research amongst qualitative research workers. This could be due to the fact that public sector administrations are more easy accessible than the private sector administrations.

Many public sector administrations have besides started coming up with their ain research and development section which undertakes the organizational research. In my sentiment participant observation and questioning together do an ideal combination to set about organizational research within a public sector administration or for that affair any administration. The defects of participant observations are covered by questioning and frailty versa. Therefore, the two methods complement each other absolutely.

Participant Observation

“ The methodological analysis of participant observation is appropriate for surveies of about every facet of human being. Through participant observation, it is possible to depict what goes on, who or what is involved, when and where things go on, how they occur, and why – at least from the point of view of participants – things happen as they do in peculiar state of affairss. ” ( Jorgensen, 1989 ) Participant observation is one of the most popular ways of carry oning fieldwork in an administration. This is because through observation of the participants traveling through their day-to-day modus operandi research workers pick up information which they might non hold entree to in a more formal scene, an illustration of which is interviews. Participant observation can be of two types. In the first, the individuality of the research worker is known to all and the research worker has a pick of organizing relationships with the participants or to stand back and eavesdrop. This signifier of participant observation is ethically right but the research worker ‘s personal temperament and individuality may act upon the participant ‘s behavior and this may hold an consequence on the research stuff gathered. The 2nd type of participant observation is covert participant observation where the individuality of the research worker is hidden. This signifier of participant observation raises many ethical inquiries and is merely another signifier of misrepresentation. Therefore, covert participant observation should be avoided. The research worker ‘s ability to construct relationships and develop resonance with topics is important in participant observation. The danger here is that the research worker may experience so embedded and sympathetic to the group being studied that construing events objectively becomes hard. Another demerit of participant observation is the time-consuming and open-ended nature of this sort of research which means it frequently does n’t acquire done. In a cost-conscious research clime in which specific and frequently short-run, unequivocal aims are required to procure support, sustained engagement is a hazardous scheme. ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008 )


“ The qualitative interview can be seen as a conversation with a intent, where the interviewer ‘s purpose is to obtain cognition about the respondent ‘s universe. ” ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008:118 ) The end of any qualitative research interview is to see the research subject from the position of the interviewee and to understand how and why they came to hold this peculiar position. ( Cassell and Symon, 2004 ) Interviewing is the most popular method of carry oning organizational research. The method has three of import advantages. First, interviewers allow the research worker to detect new relationships or state of affairss non antecedently conceived. Second, interview based research may be optimum when there is a little population of possible respondents as interviewers offer an chance to get a profusion of information from each respondent. Finally, interviews may let research workers to develop a deeper resonance with sources which is necessary to derive honest and accurate responses and to add penetrations that lay the basis for larger or follow-up surveies. ( Marschan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004 ) But the interviewing method besides suffers from three disadvantages. First, developing an interview usher, transporting out interviews and analyzing their transcripts, are all extremely time-consuming activities for the research workers. Second, qualitative interviews are besides palling to transport out as they involve considerable concentration from the interviewer. Thus, no more than three interviews, each of the continuance of one hr, should be carried out in a twenty-four hours. Finally, interviews are besides time-consuming for the interviewees and this may do jobs in enrolling participants in some organisations and businesss.

The latest tendencies in questioning have come some distance from structured inquiries ; we have reached the point of the interview as negotiated text. Research workers are non unseeable impersonal entities ; they are a portion of the interaction we seek to analyze. Interviewers are progressively seen as active participants in an interaction with respondents, and interviewers are seen as negotiated achievements of both interviewers and respondents that are shaped by the contexts and state of affairss in which they take topographic point. ( Denzin and Lincoln, 2005 )

Depending on the type of organizational research which the populace sector administration needs to transport out and its ends and purposes, either participant observation or interviewing or a combination of both the methods can be used suitably in geting the needed research stuff.


Therefore, I conclude by stating that qualitative research methods have formed a niche for themselves in organizational research. The importance of organizational research is turning twenty-four hours by twenty-four hours and qualitative research methods are now an of import portion of organizational research. Although many signifiers of qualitative research make the usage of figures and Numberss to back up a point of treatment, therefore integrating a feature of quantitative research methods, they besides provide an in deepness analysis on the subject of research and utilize one or more of the methodological analysiss of qualitative research which include participant observation, interviewing, autoethnography, usage of secondary informations, grounded theory, descriptive anthropology, discourse analysis, narrations and rhetorical analysis.

In this essay I introduced qualitative research and outlined its increasing importance in organizational research. I followed this up by depicting attacks to qualitative research specifically concentrating on autoethnography, grounded theory, critical discourse analysis and the narrative attack, and critically analyzing their usage in organizational research. Finally, I concentrated on public sector administrations and why I think that participant observation and interviews are the best methods of qualitative research to set about organizational research in public sector administrations. In making this I feel that I have justified the usage of qualitative research in administrations.


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