Justification for qualitative research in organisations

"Qualitative research is a field of inquiry in its own right. It crosscuts disciplines, fields and subject issues. A intricate, interconnected family of terms, concepts, and assumptions encircle the term qualitative research. Included in these are the practices associated with foundationalism, positivism, postfoundationalism, postpositivism, poststructuralism, and the many qualitative research perspectives, and/or methods connected to ethnical and interpretive studies. "

". . . qualitative experts can access attractive data by watching mundane settings or by finding day-to-day features in incredible settings. "

This essay provides a justification for the use of qualitative research methods in organisations. In the past, qualitative research methods have always been sidelined and quantitative research methods have been preferred for starting organisational research. Among the reasons for this is the fact qualitative research is always inspired by the researcher's personal disposition. Corresponding to Creswell, "Qualitative Research is a form of interpretive inquiry where analysts make an interpretation of what they see, listen to, and understand. Their interpretations cannot be separated from other own backgrounds, record, contexts, and prior understandings. " (Creswell, 2009:176) Another reason for this is distributed by Silverman when he says that "Policy makers and managers have been pressed away from ethnographic research since it requires a relatively long time to complete and appears to use unrepresentative samples. Despite the fact that some ethnographers are able to produce powerful quarrels in what can be read from a single, well researched, case, others muddy the waters by politics posturing and by suggesting that they need no pickup truck with conventional technological criteria. " (Silverman, 2007:86) "The 'yank' of quantitative research for organisations is the fact that it will establish its research problems in a way that makes immediate sense to professionals and administrators. " (Silverman, 2007:86)

More just lately many organisations have began recognising the merits of using qualitative research methods to take on research in the company. Qualitative research methods permit a thorough scrutiny of the researched matter which is not possible in quantitative research. Even within qualitative research, the researcher is provided with a vast range of options and opportunities for checking out diverse issues within the area of organisational research.

What are different methods used to adopt qualitative research?

The most commonly known and most used approach to qualitative research is ethnography which got its roots in communal anthropology, with particular mention of the analysis of the culture of communal communities and societies. The culture of an social group comprises of these complex networks of so this means and the key process of ethnography is to develop an interpretation and understanding of culture. (Thorpe and Holt, 2008) Ethnography serves as a a longitudinal research method that is often associated with participant observation, but can also draw on other research solutions such as contextual and historic analysis of secondary data released by or on the group being researched. The ethnographic method of producing an in-depth understanding of people's behaviour helps it be well suited to studying organisations. (Marshan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004) But "It bends actuality considerably to imply ethnography is today the primary approach to qualitative research and this observational materials is the key data source. That is hardly surprising given the plethora of materials that invite our attention. These expand beyond whatever we can observe with this own eyes from what we can notice to see on recordings, that which you can read in newspaper documents and electronically download on the internet, from what we can derive by asking questions in interviews or by giving various stimuli to focus teams. " (Silverman, 2007:37) Grounded theory research, discourse research, deconstruction, content examination, narrative method, action research (Humphreys, 2006), participatory enquiry, participant observation (Denzin and Lincoln, 2000), autoethnography, interviewing are simply a few of the current methods to qualitative data collection and examination. All these methods are properly used in several kinds of organisational research. I am taking a look at autoethnography, grounded theory research, critical discourse analysis and the narrative way towards qualitative research and will study the utilization of the methods in executing organisational research.


Ethnographers have started out commencing "the observation of contribution" where they reflect on and critically build relationships their own involvement within the ethnographic frame thus giving beginning to autoethnography. (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005:467) Karra and Philips have described autoethnography as, "the era of theoretically relevant descriptions of an organization to which belongs based on a structured evaluation of one's activities and the experience of other's from one's group. . . It really is an attempt to produce sense from one's experience of a group that may be place down in a text message and shared with interested others. It generally does not mean that the researcher studies only himself or herself, but that the researcher can be an insider who can draw after personal experience, ethnic competence, and linguistic resources to frame and shape research in a way that an outsider cannot. " (Karra and Phillips, 2008:547) Autoethnography has been very successfully utilized by Karra and Phillips, in their article about international management analysts doing studies in their own cultural context. They state that, ". . . autoethnography offers a methodological framework for understanding and taking care of their research. A lot more importantly, it acts to sensitize the researcher to the importance of carefully handling the complicated dynamics of this form of cross-cultural research including questions of authorial tone, role turmoil, and vitality. " (Karra and Phillips, 2008:543)

Autoethnographic strategies have four important advantages- ease of access, reduced source of information requirements, ease of building trust and rapport, and reduced problems with translation- but at the same time pose three important challenges- lack of critical distance, role conflict, and the limits of serendipity. (Karra and Phillips, 2008:541) The strengths of this mode of research are sizeable and despite all the criticisms this technique of qualitative research has obtained it can be used very effectively in organisational research where the need is to get upon personal activities. Among the uses of autoethnography is to permit someone else's world of experience to inspire critical reflection on your own. (Ellis and Bochner, 1996:22) Experience is given a great deal of importance in organisations and autoethnography permits the researcher and the organisation to use this experience in a positive manner and in ways that can be very good for the organisation and its employees.

Grounded Theory

Grounded theory, developed by Glaser and Strauss, is a kind of theory made from the info collected. The methodology refers to a method of executing qualitative data analysis whose purpose is to find what kinds of ideas and hypotheses are relevant to the area one wishes to comprehend. Grounded theory, therefore, provides new insights into the understanding of communal processes rising from the framework in which they arise, without forcing and modifying the info to earlier theoretical frameworks. (Cassell and Symon, 2004:242) Grounded theory is a way that is appropriate for some questions than others. It is most suited to efforts to understand the process by which actors construct indicating out of intersubjective experience. Grounded theory should be utilized in a manner that is logically steady with key assumptions about interpersonal reality and how the the truth is known. It is less appropriate to work with grounded theory when you seek to make knowledge says about an objective reality, and more appropriate to take action when you wish to make knowledge statements about how precisely individuals interpret simple fact. (Suddaby, 2006:634) As the grounded theory strategy appeared at a time when methods discourse was decidedly modernist, forty years of development echo he paradigmatic plurality of current qualitative research. (Thorpe and Holt, 2008)

The application of grounded theory in organisational research has been gathering popularity in recent times. This is because organisational mindset has been designated by a style of moving from an individualistic perspective towards a far more collective view. Grounded theory has been applied in studies concentrating on organisational culture, organisational progress, change and creativity, team work and company survival to mention a few. Grounded theory produces explanations of organisational fact which elicit positive conversations around important themes or templates in the organisation among the list of employees and, thus, form a basis for positive organisational development movements. (Cassell and Symon, 2004)

Critical Discourse Analysis

According to Cunliffe, "Discourse evaluation is a term covering lots of approaches to research that analyze dialect use. These approaches range from a concentrate on words itself, to a broader study of the partnership between terms use, cultural action and sociable theory. " (Thorpe and Holt, 2008:81) Discourse evaluation provides a theoretical and methodological construction for checking out the social development of organizational and interorganizational phenomena. (Phillips, Sewell and Jaynes, 2008:1) Like a strategy, critical discourse analysis allows for the utilization of different kinds of methods in specific research projects. However, this kind of research specifically demands the ability to make sense of the linkages between specific textual characteristics and particular discourses on the main one hand, and between the discourses and the relevant socio-cultural practices and historical improvements on the other. Which means that research of this type generally will favour in-depth scrutiny of and representation on specific text messages. (Marschan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004)

Discourse analysis has become an extremely popular way for evaluating the linguistic elements in the building of interpersonal phenomena. It has been increasingly followed by group and management scholars thinking about the social building of specific organizational ideas or routines. (Varra, Kleymann and Seristo, 2004:3) You will find three important problems facing experts wishing to adopt a crucial discourse perspective in their work. First, like ethnography, discourse evaluation leads to quite lengthy analyses that tend to be a poor match certain requirements of journal editors. Second, discourse examination often entails major data-management issues because of the volume of data that is often available. Finally, as this is a fairly new are of activity, there are few standard models available to follow. Developing progressive data examination techniques for every single research thus remains a final challenge facing experts. (Phillips, Sewell and Jaynes, 2008)

Narrative Approach

According to Oswick, "Narratives are an unavoidable and unavoidable facet of communal life and, consequently, are essential to the operations of managing and arranging. " (Thorpe and Holt, 2008:141) Even though the narrative way is one with many merits that are being recognized by researchers, it is still a field in the making which is not very frequently used. "Researchers new to this field will find a wealthy but diffuse custom, multiple methodologies in a variety of levels of development, and lots of opportunities for exploring new ideas, methods and questions. " (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005:651)

A recognition that discourse is the concept means by which organization members develop a coherent social actuality that frames their sense of who they are has resulted in an increased desire for narrative approaches in company studies. A narrative procedure explicitly recognizes that, in organizations, terms is the principal medium of sociable control and vitality, and that the examination of linguistic procedures is key to an understanding of how existing sociable and power relations are reproduced or changed. (Humphreys and Dark brown, 2007) In this article, "An Analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility at LINE OF CREDIT: A Narrative Methodology" by Humphreys and Dark brown (2008), the creators followed a narrative method of the research of organizational functions in a loan company, Credit Line, to be able to explore how individuals in a financial institution dealt with relatively novel issues of corporate sociable responsibility. The authors used narratives to effectively draw attention to the plurivocity of organisational life.

Use of qualitative research solutions to embark on organisational research in a open public sector organisation

Public sector organisations are those organisations that happen to be managed by the federal government. The main aim of these organisations is never to make a profit but to provide a service to the individuals under the government. Some exemplory case of public sector organisations are airports, public hospitals, railway stations, administration run universities and colleges. Governments nowadays want to privatize most of the public sector organisations in order to increase their efficiency and performance. Thus almost all of these given examples have been partially or completely privatised in most countries.

Public sector organisations are normal grounds for research amidst qualitative researchers. This may be due to the fact that public sector organisations are more easily accessible than the private sector organisations.

Many general public sector organisations also have started discovering their own research and development team which undertakes the organisational research. In my own judgment participant observation and interviewing along make an excellent combination to attempt organisational research inside a public sector company or for that matter any organisation. The shortcomings of participant observations are included in interviewing and vice versa. Thus, both methods complement the other person perfectly.

Participant Observation

"The strategy of participant observation is suitable for studies of almost every aspect of individual life. Through participant observation, it is possible to describe how are you affected, who or what's engaged, when and where things happen, the way they occur, and just why - at least from the standpoint of members - things happen as they are doing in particular situations. " (Jorgensen, 1989) Participant observation is one of the very most popular means of conducting fieldwork within an organisation. It is because through observation of the members going right through their day to day routine researchers pick up information that they might not have usage of in a more formal setting, a good example of which is interviews. Participant observation can be of two types. Inside the first, the identity of the researcher may all and the researcher has a selection of forming connections with the members or to stand back and eavesdrop. This form of participant observation is ethically appropriate however the researcher's personal disposition and individuality may effect the participant's behaviour which may have an effect on the research material gathered. The second type of participant observation is covert participant observation where in fact the individuality of the researcher is concealed. This form of participant observation raises many honest questions and is just another form of deception. Thus, covert participant observation should be prevented. The researcher's capability to build romantic relationships and develop rapport with topics is essential in participant observation. The danger here's that the researcher may feel so inserted and sympathetic to the group being examined that interpreting situations objectively becomes quite difficult. Another demerit of participant observation is the time-consuming and open-ended mother nature of the kind of research which means it often doesn't have finished. In a cost-conscious research local climate in which specific and often short-term, definitive targets are required to secure funding, sustained contribution is a risky strategy. (Thorpe and Holt, 2008)


"The qualitative interview is seen as a discussion with a purpose, where in fact the interviewer's purpose is to acquire knowledge about the respondent's world. " (Thorpe and Holt, 2008:118) The goal of any qualitative research interview is to see the research topic from the point of view of the interviewee and also to understand how and why they came to get this particular perspective. (Cassell and Symon, 2004) Interviewing is typically the most popular method of executing organisational research. The method has three important advantages. First of all, interviewers allow the researcher to discover new interactions or situations not recently conceived. Secondly, interview based research may be optimal when there is certainly a small populace of possible respondents as interviewers offer an possibility to acquire a richness of information from each respondent. Finally, interviews may allow research workers to build up a deeper rapport with informants which is essential to gain honest and accurate reactions also to add insights that lay the groundwork for much larger or follow-up studies. (Marschan-Piekkari and Welch, 2004) However the interviewing method also is suffering from three disadvantages. Firstly, producing an interview guide, undertaking interviews and analysing their transcripts, are all highly time-consuming activities for the research workers. Second of all, qualitative interviews are also tiring to handle as they involve considerable concentration from the interviewer. Thus, only three interviews, each of the duration of one hour, should be carried out per day. Finally, interviews are also time-consuming for the interviewees and this may cause problems in recruiting members in a few organizations and occupations.

The latest fads in interviewing have come some distance from structured questions; we've reached the idea of the interview as negotiated words. Researchers are not unseen neutral entities; they are simply an integral part of the conversation we seek to review. Interviewers are more and more seen as energetic participants within an relationship with respondents, and interviewers are seen as negotiated achievements of both interviewers and respondents that are shaped by the contexts and situations where they take place. (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005)

Depending on the type of organisational research that your public sector company needs to accomplish and its goals and seeks, either participant observation or interviewing or a mixture of both the methods can be utilized appropriately in acquiring the mandatory research materials.


Thus, I conclude by stating that qualitative research methods have developed a niche for themselves in organisational research. The importance of organisational research keeps growing daily and qualitative research methods are now an important part of organisational research. Although many types of qualitative research make the utilization of results and numbers to support a spot of talk, thus adding a characteristic of quantitative research methods, they also provide an in depth analysis on this issue of research and use one or more of the methodologies of qualitative research which include participant observation, interviewing, autoethnography, use of secondary data, grounded theory, ethnography, discourse research, narratives and rhetorical analysis.

In this article I unveiled qualitative research and discussed its increasing importance in organisational research. I implemented this up by describing approaches to qualitative research specifically concentrating on autoethnography, grounded theory, critical discourse research and the narrative way, and critically analysing their utilization in organisational research. Finally, I focused on general public sector organisations and why I think that participant observation and interviews will be the best ways of qualitative research to attempt organisational research in public areas sector organisations. By doing this I feel that I have justified the use of qualitative research in organisations.

Word Count: 2969 words

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