Deﬁning qualitative managementresearch: an empiricalinvestigation
Shefﬁeld University Management School, Shefﬁeld, UK
Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Manchester Business School, Manchester, UK, and
Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck College,University of London, London, UK
– The purpose of this paper is to report the ﬁndings of research which explores how theconcept qualitative management research is variably constructed and deﬁned by those who have adirect interest in, and inﬂuence upon, important aspects of qualitative management research.
– Information was gathered through the use of semi-structuredinterviews conducted with 44 individuals who were drawn from four observer-identiﬁed types of “expert” informant who were taken to generally represent key groups of stakeholders in the conduct,evaluation and dissemination of qualitative management research. Interview data from theseindividuals were analysed though an iterative process using the NVivo software package toinductively generate deﬁnitional categories and explore aspects of their interrelationships.
– From data analysis it was apparent that there are eight different, but often interrelated,ways in which interviewees deﬁne qualitative management research. The philosophical dimensions of each of these variable deﬁnitions are outlined and their relationships to the methodological literatureare explored. The variety identiﬁed amongst informants, indicates how there is a potential dissensuspossible regarding what qualitative management research might entail, as well as regardingits provenance and its academic status. This dissensus potentially can create problems with regard toits evaluation.
– So whist there is little evidence to suggest any systematic relationship betweenthe variable institutional backgrounds of informants and how they variably deﬁne and perceivequalitative management research, philosophical inﬂuences upon this contested terrain are exploredand the implications of the identiﬁed dissensus for how qualitative management research is perceivedand evaluated is discussed. The implications of this evidently contested terrain are discussed withparticular reference to the future constitution of qualitative management research and its evaluation.
Qualitative methods, Qualitative research, Management research, Epistemology
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This work was sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Research MethodsProgramme: Grant No. H33250006. The authors would like to thank two anonymous referees andthe associate editor for their helpful feedback during the development of this paper.
Qualitative Research inOrganizationsand Management: An International JournalVol. 2 No. 1, 2007pp. 23-42
Emerald Group Publishing Limited1746-5648DOI 10.1108/17465640710749108