Qualitative Research Methods

Topics: Qualitative research, Scientific method, Quantitative research Pages: 20 (6299 words) Published: June 11, 2006



Ýhsan Ulaþ Kocaoðlu


Definition of Qualitative Research in Social Sciences
Approaches to Management Research
Positivism versus Phenomenology
Deductive and Inductive
Schools of Thought in Management Research
Major Qualitaitve Research Approaches
Ethnographic Approach
Field Research
Grounded Theory
Case study
Action Research

Narrative research

Qualitative Data Collection Techniques


Workshops / Focus Groups

Literature Review

Participant Observation

Nonparticipant Observation

Data Analysis and Analytic Techniques

Analytic induction

Constant comparison




Integrative diagrams and sessions:

Quality of Qualitative Research





Discussion and Conclusion


Definition of Qualitative Research in Social Sciences
The label qualitative methods is an umbrella term covering an array of interpretive techniques which seek to describe, decode, translate and otherwise come to terms with the meaning, not the frequency, of certain more or less naturally occurring phenomena in the social world. It involves the use of a vast array of non-statistical data collection and analysis techniques and rich mixture of inductive theory building practice. Figure 1 gives a good description of what of what type of research is considered qualitative together with what is not from research strategy and pupose to data collection and analysis methods. Typically the observation and testing of theoretical predictions entail the researcher's a priori conceptualization, operationalization and statistical measurement of dimensions of respondents' behaviour rather than beginning with their subjective perspectives. Indeed, human subjectivity is often specifically excluded from explanations of behaviour because such "inner" subjective causes are taken to be empirically unobservable and hence inadmissible as "genuinely scientific explanations".

In contrast, qualitative research has a direct interest in accessing actors' subjective meanings and interpretations in order to explain their behaviour, although whether or not this is possible in an objective manner has been subjected to much debate. Such commitments to understand are premised upon the idea that to follow the approach of the natural sciences in the study of the social world is an error because human action, unlike the behaviour of non-sentient objects in the natural world, has an internal subjective logic which must be understood in order to make it intelligible. Quantitative measures of phenomena are seen to impose an external researcher-derived logic which excludes, or at best distorts rather than captures, actors' subjectivity from the data collected. Hence qualitative management research has been seen as arising in response to these perceived limitations in conventional quantitative management research. Approaches to Management Research

Positivism versus Phenomenology
"There is a long-standing debate about the most appropriate philosophical position from which methods should be derived. In the red-corner is phenomenology, in the blue- corner is positivism" (Young, 2005 in Zikmund, 1988). Social scientists of a Positivist influence advocate that the social world exists externally and it can be measured through a scientific approach, for example through objective methods involving meticulous testing and observation. Theory is deduced through rigorous testing and observation, and seeks to explain causal relationships between variables i.e. through experimental, quasi-experimental, survey and rigorously defined methods (Young, 2005 in Denzin and Lincoln, 1994). The alternative view of the Phenomenology approach states that reality is socially constructed rather than...

References: Young, K. E., (2003). An Exploration of the Use of Graphic Facilitative Methods
within the Strategic Change Process
Trochim, W. M.K. (2005). Research Methods Knowledge Base, http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/
Savenye, W. C. and Robinson, R. S. (2003). Qualitative Research Issues And Methods: An Introduction For Educational Technologists
Johnson, P., Buehring A., Cassell, C. and Symon, G. (2003). Evaluating Qualitative Management Research: Towards a Contingent Criteriology
Zinn, J. O. (2004). Social Contexts and Responses to Risk Network (SCARR)
Thompson, F. and Perry C. (2004).Generalising results of an action research project in one work place to other situations Principles and practice, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 38 No. 3/4, pp. 401-417
ESRC Workshops for QualitativeResearch in Management, (2005). The Philosophical Commitments and Disputes which inform Qualitative Research Methodologies. Workshop 2
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