Using narrative in social research Essay

Traditionally, the direction and organisation field has been dominated by research based on quantitative techniques of informations aggregation, analysis and reading. Quantitative research has overshadowed qualitative processs and it is therefore preferred to set about organisational research. The chief ground for the same is the influence of the research worker ‘s personal temperament on the full survey while carry oning qualitative research. It faces unfavorable judgment on the evidences of credibleness and genuineness as it “ 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 ) It takes a comparatively long clip to finish and appears to utilize unrepresentative samples. The pull of quantitative research for organisations is that it defines the research jobs in a manner that it makes immediate sense to practicians and decision makers. ( Silverman, 2007:86 )

But, in the more recent times at that place has been an increasing involvement in the in-depth surveies that are produced from qualitative work. It provides a comprehensive penetration to the job being researched which is non possible in quantitative techniques. In fact, it generates thoughts and hypothesis which can farther be used in quantitative research. Organizations have started acknowledging these virtues and therefore accepting the huge construct of qualitative research as a method for organisational enquiry.

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Different methods used to transport out qualitative research:

“ 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, poststrucuralism, and the many qualitative research positions, and/or methods connected to cultural and interpretative studies. “ ( Denzin and Lincoln, 2000:2 )

Qualitative research is an extended field which consists of many methods and techniques used to cover assorted facets like instruction, information, direction, adult females, and disablement surveies to a name a few. One of the most popular methods to set about qualitative research is ethnography. Rooted in “ societal anthropology ” ( Thorpe and Holt, 2009 ) , it is “ intensively analyzing a specific societal group by detecting the group in its natural scene ” ( Esterberg, 2002:8 ) . The cardinal challenge of descriptive anthropology is to detect, understand and construe the complex webs of civilization.

Grounded theory research, narrative methods, action research, discourse analysis, deconstruction, content analysis, ( Humphreys, 2006 ) , participatory question, participant observation ( Denzin and Lincoln, 2000 ) , autoethnography and interviewing are merely a few of the bing attacks of qualitative informations aggregation and analysis. These methods are used suitably in different organisational scenarios for research. This essay provides a justification for qualitative research in organisations and I will be concentrating on autoethnography, critical discourse analysis, grounded theory research and narrative attack towards qualitative research and pull on their utilizations of executing organisational research.


Autoethnography is a automatic history of one ‘s ain experiences situated in civilization. It is when the research worker dons the function of the chief histrion or the topic of the research in the procedure of scripting personal narratives and narrations. Rather than a description of others ( individual, group or civilization ) , autoethnography is more of a portrayal of the ego. It is an emergent field of involvement, with no individual paradigmatic authorization and places the relationship between the apprehender and the known at the Centre of the cognition created. ( Moore, pg 2 )

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 )

Harmonizing to Karra and Phillips, autoethnography is “ the coevals of theoretically relevant descriptions of a group to which one belongs based on a structured analysis of one ‘s experiences and the experience of other ‘s from one ‘s group. It does non intend that the research worker surveies merely himself or herself, but that the research worker is an insider and has an upper manus over any foreigner since he can pull on personal experience, cultural competency, and lingual resources to border and determine the research in a more reliable manner. ( Karra and Phillip, 2008:547 )

In the article by Karra and Phillip, about international direction research workers carry oning surveies in their ain cultural context, autoethnography has been used expeditiously and efficaciously to depict experiences.

Autoethnography non merely provides a methodological frame for understanding and pull offing international research, it besides acts to sensitise the research worker to the importance of carefully pull offing the complex kineticss of this signifier of cross-cultural research including controversial inquiries on auctorial voice, function struggle and power. ( Karra and Phillip, 2008:543 )

The four strengths of autoethnographic research in international direction are viz. easiness of entree, reduced resource demands, increased ability to set up trust and resonance, and reduced jobs of interlingual renditions. Yet, this attack faces a few major challenges like that of trouble while keeping critical distance, ongoing function struggle, and the bounds of serendipity. ( Karra and Phillip, 2008:557 )

The strengths of this attack are important and despite its defects this manner of research can be used successfully in organisational research when concentrating on personal experiences and one ‘s ain cultural context. 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 ) .

The experience of a research worker plays a critical function in this attack as there is a demand for careful consideration and willingness to explicitly cover with the challenges of the attack. Therefore looking at the strengths and failings of the attack, autoethnography can be termed as a “ two-edged blade ” . In any peculiar state of affairs, the benefits and costs of this attack demand to be carefully weighed to accomplish the best branching of the research. ( Karra and Phillip, 2008:556 ) .


Critical Discourse Analysis was developed by Norman Fairclough and his co-workers. “ 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 ) Its multiplex roots lie in rhetoric, text and applied linguistics, anthropology, doctrine, socio-psychology, cognitive scientific discipline, literary surveies and pragmatics. ( Wodak and Meyer )

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 development on the other. This means that research of this type by and large tends to prefer in-depth examination of and contemplation on specific texts. ( Marschan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004 )

Critical discourse analysis has made the survey of linguistic communication into an interdisciplinary tool and can be used by bookmans with assorted backgrounds particularly media unfavorable judgment. It offers the chance to follow a societal position in the cross-cultural survey of media texts. ( hypertext transfer protocol: // )

There are three important jobs faced by research workers wisjing 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 activity there are few standard theoretical accounts available to follow. Developing advanced informations analysis techniques for each survey remains a concluding challenges confronting research workers. ( Phillips, Sewell and Jaynes, 2008 )


Grounded theory can be best described as a powerful research attack in which the theory is developed from a principal of informations than the other manner around. This makes it an inductive method, intending it moves from the particular to the more general. This attack was originally developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1960 ‘s. The self-defined intent of grounded theory was to develop theory about phenomena of involvement ( hypertext transfer protocol: // app.php ) .

This 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 therefore, provides new penetrations into 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 an iterative procedure in which the research begins with raising productive inquiries which help to steer the research but are non intended to be inactive or restricting. As the research begins to garner informations, nucleus theoretical constructs are identified and probationary linkages are developed between the nucleus constructs and the information. The attempt tends to germinate towards one nucleus class that is cardinal. There are several cardinal analytic schemes like, coding – procedure of categorising qualitative informations and describes the deductions and inside informations of the same, memoing, which is the procedure of entering the idea and thoughts of the research worker and integrative diagrams and Sessionss which are used to draw all of the inside informations together, to assist do sense of the information. It is a uninterrupted procedure which can transport on indefinitely and therefore does non hold a clearly demarcated point for stoping a survey. ( hypertext transfer protocol: // )

Grounded theory should be used in a manner that is logically consistent with cardinal premises about societal world and how that 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 grounded theory attack appeared at a clip when methods discourse was unquestionably modernist, 40 old ages of development reflect the paradigmatic plurality of current research. ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008 )

This attack of qualitative research has been deriving credence in recent times. It is chiefly because organisational 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 organisational civilization, growing, alteration, invention, teamwork and interpersonal relationships to call a few. But it is still non widely used and understood by research workers in some industries or PhD pupils in some scientific discipline subjects. Grounded theory outputs descriptions of organisational world which bring forth positive treatment around of import subjects in an organisation among employees and therefore organize a footing for positive organisational development tendencies. ( Cassell and Symon, 2004 )

However, as grounded theory is such a fastidiously precise method of survey, it requires high degrees of both experience and acumen on the portion of the research worker. Therefore, novice research workers should avoid this method until they have achieved the proper qualities needed to efficaciously implement the attack. ( hypertext transfer protocol: // )


Harmonizing to Hinchman and Hinchman “ Narratives in the human scientific disciplines should be defined provisionally as discourses with a clear consecutive order that connect events in a meaningful manner for a definite audience and therefore offer penetrations about the universe and/or people ‘s experiences of it. ” ( Elliott, 2006:3 ) . This definition identifies three cardinal elements of the attack – chronological, meaningful and societal. Although this attack has assorted virtues which are being recognized by research workers, it is a field still in its initial phases of development and therefore 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 )

In the article “ An analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility at Credit Line: A Narrative Approach ” by Humphrey and Brown ( 2008 ) , the writers adopted a narrative attack towards the analysis of organisational procedures, in order to research how persons in their chosen instance of a fiscal establishment dealt with relatively fresh issues of corporate societal duty.

A narrative position is known to give entree to and grasp of context, or specific characters, events and relationships that yield sensitiveness to salient situational specialnesss. It besides permits research workers to render complexness with complexness and therefore draws attending to the plurivocity of organisational life. ( Humphrey and Brown, 2008 )

Use of qualitative research for organisational research

Public sector organisations are province or authorities owned organisations. They are aimed towards societal public assistance and non gain maximization. Some of the chief countries where the populace sector dominates are transport, communicating, wellness attention, instruction and heavy industries. The authorities tries to set about such above ventures as they are important for an economic system ‘s growing and development. But in order to increase efficiency and effectivity, the authorities has started privatising many of these public sector organisations.

Public sector organisations are considered a popular land for qualitative research by bookmans. Qualitative research workers find it easier to entree public sector organisations than the private 1s since they are less commercial and more transparent in nature. Assorted public sector organisations have started holding their ain research and development section for organisational research.

In my sentiment, the most ideal of all the attacks of qualitative research to transport out organisational research would be a combination of participant observation and interviewing. These two methods would give great consequences together as they complement each other absolutely.


“ Participant observation involves plunging yourself in the civilization and acquisition to take yourself every twenty-four hours from that submergence so you can intellectualize what you ‘ve seen and heard, set it into position, and write about it convincingly. ” ( Bernard, 2006 )

Participant observation is considered an indispensable component of carry oning fieldwork while researching an organisation. The research workers get involved in the day-to-day modus operandi of the participants and therefore gather valuable information which they can non entree in a more formal scenario, like that of an interview.

There are two normally used signifiers of participant observation- covert and overt. Overt participant observation is when the research worker is being unfastened about the ground for his or her presence in the field of survey and has the pick of set uping relationships with the topics or to stand back and examine. This type is regarded ethical in nature. But at the same clip the research worker ‘s personal temperament and background may pull strings the research stuff gathered. In covert participant observation the research worker participates to the full without uncovering his or her individuality. The purpose to detect the scene is concealed and therefore the research is carried out in secret. Criticism surrounds this signifier as it appears to hold significant ethical issues and therefore the open signifier is believed to be better.

Participant observation requires the research worker to equilibrate a good personal and professional resonance with the topics. The danger here is that the research worker at times may acquire highly embedded and sympathetic towards the group being studied that construing events objectively becomes hard. Another defect of this method is that the research frequently does n’t acquire done as it is clip devouring and unfastened ended in nature. In a cost witting 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 )


Interviewing is one of the most popular and convenient methods of roll uping informations for qualitative research, used either as a chief method or a portion of a broader attack. 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. For successful interviews, intelligent determinations need to be taken by the research worker sing the structuring of the interview ( structured, semi structured, unstructured ) , the figure of people involved ( single or group ) and the media of communicating ( face-to-face conversation, telephone, electronic mail ) . ( Thorpe and Holt, 2008 )

This method of roll uping informations has major virtues. Interview based research may be optimum when there is a little population of respondents to be interviewed as this manner the interviewers offer an chance to get a profusion of information from each respondent. Interviews may let the research workers to develop a deeper resonance with the sources which is necessary to derive honest and accurate responses. ( Marschan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004 ) Interviews are by and large easier for respondents every bit good particularly if what is sought is feelings or sentiments. Interviewer has the chance to examine and inquire follow up inquiries for complete informations. However, the questioning method suffers from assorted disadvantages. Interviews are clip devouring for both the research worker and the participants. Developing an interview usher, transporting out interviews and so analysing their transcripts, are all extremely clip devouring activities for the research workers. While clip ingestion may be an issue with the interviewees and therefore this may do jobs in enrolling participants in some organisations and businesss. Qualitative interviews are besides palling to transport out as they involve considerable concentration from the interviewer. The informations collected may be biased due to the presence of the research worker.

The latest tendencies in questioning have a semen a long manner from structured inquiries. Research workers are no longer unseeable impersonal entities ; they are infact a portion of the interaction we seek to analyze. Interviewers are progressively seen as active participants in an interaction with respondents, and interviews 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 qualitative research required by an organisation in conformity with its ends and aims, the right combination of participant observation and interviewing should be used in geting the needed research stuff.


Qualitative research has been deriving popularity among research workers and bookmans. With its turning importance and credence, qualitative methods will shortly organize a big portion by organisational research.

In this essay I began with presenting the construct of qualitative research and its increasing importance in today ‘s epoch. I followed it by looking at assorted methods viz. autoethnography, critical discourse analysis, grounded theory attack and narrative methods and critically analyzed their application in organisational research. I so concentrated on participant observation and interviewing as the most appropriate signifiers of informations aggregation and reading for organisational research, specifically in the populace sector.

Therefore in my sentiment, qualitative methods have formed a niche for themselves n organisational research.


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