Comparative Methodological Critique
The aim of this paper is to compare two academic research papers, one informed by qualitative and another one by quantitative research designs with focus on the methodological factors. Both papers describe working lives and attitudes of gay and lesbian workers in the UK and USA, possible consequences of disclosure of sexual orientation on their working relations and organisational arrangements towards equality and diversity of working practice. These research projects add to the growing number of studies which shed light on the sensitive nature of homosexuality in the workplace and anti-discrimination policies and practices that organisations deploy to create a more inclusive working environment. Governed by the difficulty of access to gay and lesbian population both in UK and USA, and its “hidden” nature both teams chose their own strategy in unveiling the nature of work attitudes of gay and lesbian employees and demonstrating the progress organisations have made or are making towards the establishment of good practice. 1st paper (qualitative)
The paper deals with identifying good organisational practice concerning equality, diversity and sexual orientation in the workplace, and considers any changes following the introduction of Employment equality (Sexual Orientation) regulations 2003. It also aims at addressing the gap between equality policy and practice which provides the foundation for further analysis of the significant shortfall in knowledge relating to the experience of LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) employees in UK organisations. Even today, the issue of sexuality still remains a sensitive one, despite the coming into force of legislation offering protection to LGB people. It is also the cause of unease for some employers in the modern world in discussing (not to mention dealing with!) this issue, and consequential bullying, suffering and fear which make life and work unbearable for so many LGB people. So far progress has been made based on social justice and business case studies which means that this still “remains …an under researched area in which there have been very few case studies of particular organisations” (Colgan et al., 2007:591). Having adopted a phenomenological position in their design, the research team chose to carry out a longitudinal (2 year) qualitative study in 16 “good practice” case study organisations in the area of employment of LGB workers, to discover “the details of the situation…[in order to] to understand the reality” (Remenyi et al., 1998:35) of working relations in organisations with LGB workers. Also focusing on the ways that people make sense of the world especially through the sharing of experiences with others has dictated the use of a social constructionist framework (Bryman and Bell, 2007). The case studies involved the analysis of companies’ documentation and reports, trade union publications and websites to get an inside view of companies’ attitudes and practices. The main challenge of the project in data collection was “limited resources … inability to specify a sampling frame” (Saunders et al., 2003:170) which dictated the use of non-probability sampling. Therefore, snowballing sampling was applied as the most appropriate for this kind of research. The research team interviewed in depth 154 LGB employees who, prior to that, completed a short survey questionnaire. All completed the survey giving a complete census. However, due to “a lack of robust statistical evidence concerning the proportion of the UK population who identify as LGB” (Colgan et al., 2007:591) and the difficulty of access to such people, it’s hard to say how representative this sample of LGB people is. Determined by these practical constraints, the research team adopted a mixed methods research strategy (case study/interviews) with various data collection methods that allowed them to have a cross-check against each other's results. Difficulty of...
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