The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods provides perspectives on topics relevant to research in the field of business and management
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Journal Article

Interpretivism and the Pursuit of Research Legitimisation: An Integrated Approach to Single Case Design  pp123-132

Felicity Kelliher

© Nov 2005 Volume 3 Issue 2, Editor: Arthur Money, pp93 - 148

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Abstract

While interpretive research is recognised for its value in providing contextual depth, results are often criticised in terms of validity, reliability and generalizability, referred to collectively as research legitimisation. This paper explores the criticisms levied on interpretive case studies and presents a research design that seeks to address these criticisms. The paper describes the research template developed by the author and applies it to a longitudinal case study carried out on a micro firm in the Republic of Ireland. Following some detailed evaluation and analysis the author concludes that legitimisation of an interpretative case study is improved when an integrative approach involving the combination of specific research techniques to relevant and appropriate standards is adopted.

 

Keywords: interpretive case study, qualitative research, legitimisation

 

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Journal Article

Tell me a Story —A way to Knowledge  pp133-140

Dan Remenyi

© Nov 2005 Volume 3 Issue 2, Editor: Arthur Money, pp93 - 148

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Abstract

A narrative or a story (and these terms are synonyms) is a fundamental way of understanding our environment and relationships in it and thus it is a key feature of sound research whatever methodological approach has been taken. The skills of story telling are important in both qualitative or interpretive and quantitative research. But it comes into its own in qualitative research where story telling especially as it appears in case studies and action research is of prime importance. In quantitative research a story or narrative is also required to contextualize the work. The argument developed in this paper balances the idea that numerical analysis underpins the most powerful research paradigms.

 

Keywords: Story telling, narrative, qualitative research, quantitative research, rhetoric, argument

 

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Journal Article

The Research Audit Trial — Enhancing Trustworthiness in Qualitative Inquiry  pp11-24

Marian Carcary

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Abstract

Positivist and interpretivist researchers have different views on how their research outcomes may be evaluated. The issues of validity, reliability and generalisability, used in evaluating positivist studies, are regarded of relatively little significance by many qualitative researchers for judging the merits of their interpretive investigations. In confirming the research, those three canons need at least to be re‑conceptualised in order to reflect the keys issues of concern for interpretivists. Some interpretivists address alternative issues such as credibility, dependability and transferability when determining the trustworthiness of their qualitative investigations. A strategy proposed by several authors for establishing the trustworthiness of the qualitative inquiry is the development of a research audit trail. The audit trail enables readers to trace through a researcher's logic and determine whether the study's findings may be relied upon as a platform for further enquiry. While recommended in theory, this strategy is rarely implemented in practice. This paper examines the role of the research audit trail in improving the trustworthiness of qualitative research. Further, it documents the development of an audit trail for an empirical qualitative research study that centred on an interpretive evaluation of a new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) student administrative system in the tertiary education sector in the Republic of Ireland. This research study examined the impact of system introduction across five Institutes of Technology (IoTs) through case study research that incorporated multiple evidence sources. The evidence collected was analysed using a grounded theory method, which was supported by qualitative data analysis software. The key concepts and categories that emerged from this process were synthesized into a cross case primary narrative; through reflection the primary narrative was reduced to a higher order narrative that presented the principle findings or key research themes. From this higher order narrative a theoretical conjecture was distilled. Both a physical and intellectual audit trail for this study are presented in this paper. The physical audit trail documents all keys stages of a research study and reflects the key research methodology decisions. The intellectual audit trail, on the other hand, outlines how a researcher's thinking evolved throughout all phases of the study. Hence, these audit trails make transparent the key decisions taken throughout the research process. The paper concludes by discussing the value of this audit trail process in confirming a qualitative study's findings.

 

Keywords: interpretivist paradigm, qualitative research, research audit trail, research confirmability, trustworthiness, transferability, information technology, higher education

 

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Journal Article

Research Methods — a Case Example of Participant Observation  pp39-46

Jessica Iacono, Ann Brown, Clive Holtham

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Abstract

This paper discusses the role of the researcher as a participant observer and reflective practitioner. The paper aims to assess the benefits and limitations of participant observation, and offer guidance as to how to manage the challenges inherent in this technique. The paper draws on the lead author's experience as a participant observer when working on her doctoral thesis: 'Factors Affecting the Viability of Electronic Marketplaces: an Empirical Investigation into International Steel Trading'. It discusses the issues and concerns resulting from participant observation and how these were dealt with in the case example. The empirical research was a longitudinal study tracking the evolution of steel electronic commerce between December 1998 and the present time. The events examined in this study were observed during the lead author's ten years at a large steel producertrading house. As a trader and a manager, the lead author was directly involved in the conduct of business. The study represents the contribution of an industry practitioner and, as such, provides a unique insight into a real‑world setting.

 

Keywords: participant observation, qualitative research methods, qualitative data, longitudinal case work, steel trading case

 

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Journal Article

Claiming the Streets: Feminist Implications of Psychogeography as a Business Research Method  pp47-54

Deborah Knowles

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Abstract

This paper is intended to establish a claim that the techniques of psychogeography may be advantageously employed in business and management research in order to provide a new perspective on how organisations are experienced. It examines this practice for its possibilities as a research approach for women and its compatibility with feminist research methods. Psychogeography offers an approach to gaining an understanding of the ways that human behaviour is shaped by the geographical environment (Coverley, 2006). It constitutes a style of collecting a variety of qualitative data using complementary methods, which gives a textured view of the real world in a particular environment. Psychogeography is primarily a literary tradition. However, its constituent parts are academic disciplines rooted in real world experience. The attraction of psychogeography to a business researcher is many layered. It invites the researcher to observe the environment slowly and painstakingly, whilst "strolling", and to construct meanings in a number of ways. Walking is celebrated by psychogeographers as a cultural act and an important way to understand the world, yet the male‑as‑norm character of psychogeographers is well established (Solnit, 2001). The masculine tradition of psychogeography may operate to challenge woman researchers to examine the possibility of using this approach in conjunction with feminist perspective research methods as a way of exploring and questioning women's place in a patriarchal culture (Acker et al, 1983). Feminist research methods seek to address the "invisibility" of women's experience in academic studies (Roberts, 1990:7), to overturn the male‑as‑norm perspective, and to highlight the possibilities for women to engage in 'male‑preserve' activities. In the case of the male preserve of psychogeography these intentions would apply not only to the subject of the study but also to the practice of the research method itself.

 

Keywords: psychogeography, feminist research methods, qualitative research, safety in the field, London, organisations

 

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Journal Article

Uncovering Hidden Meanings, Values and Insights Through Photos  pp25-34

Maria Ryan, Madeleine Ogilvie

© Jan 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECRM 2010 Special issue Part 2/Jan 2011, Editor: Ann Brown, David Douglas, Marian Carcary and Jose Esteves, pp1 - 87

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Abstract

Photographs have been used as a means of data capture for many years. Their use in recording observable phenomenon in anthropology is well documented. They also provide a valuable tool for researchers from other disciplines. This paper explores the use of photographs in qualitative business research. It demonstrates how the use of photographs can enrich the business research process through a range of techniques such as photo‑elicitation, autodriving, projective prompts and phenomenological interviews. Drawing from a selection of the researchers’ past studies, a comparative review of the use of photographs and the benefits they bring to the data capture process is examined. These studies range from an analysis of visible face makeup, place attachment in a rural community using farmers and town respondents and international students’ perceptions of home. The photographs capture the outside image of what a respondent is sensing and experiencing inwardly, providing a prompt for the respondent to drive the interview with their own words, language and values. In all instances photographs were found to augment the quality and richness of the data captured and provide an extra depth of analysis that otherwise may not have been discovered. In addition, the paper highlights the dynamics involved in the process of using visual data capture methods. The photographs were used for respondents to engage in a free sorting task which is useful in uncovering respondents’ values and meanings when asked to explain choices made between their photographs. This is of particular use in difficult to articulate situations like face makeup self perceptions and personal attachment to the environment. Our findings suggest that photographs are an increasingly important tool to use in business research and that they enhance the breadth and insight of the qualitative research process. The procedures and value gained using photographs are outlined along with a discussion on the benefits and disadvantages of this process.

 

Keywords: photoelicitation, qualitative research, autodriving, projective prompts, interviews

 

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Journal Article

A Strategy for Delayed Research Method Selection: Deciding Between Grounded Theory and Phenomenology  pp35-46

Sebastian Reiter

© Jan 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECRM 2010 Special issue Part 2/Jan 2011, Editor: Ann Brown, David Douglas, Marian Carcary and Jose Esteves, pp1 - 87

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Abstract

TThis paper presents a strategy for delayed research method selection in a qualitative interpretivist research. An exemplary case details how explorative interviews were designed and conducted in accordance with a paradigm prior to deciding whether to adopt grounded theory or phenomenology for data analysis. The focus here is to determine the most appropriate research strategy in this case the methodological framing to conduct research and represent findings, both of which are detailed. Research addressing current management issues requires both a flexible framework and the capability to consider the research problem from various angles, to derive tangible results for academia with immediate application to business demands. Researchers, and in particular novices, often struggle to decide on an appropriate research method suitable to address their research problem. This often applies to interpretative qualitative research where it is not always immediately clear which is the most appropriate method to use, as the research objectives shift and crystallize over time. This paper uses an exemplary case to reveal how the strategy for delayed research method selection contributes to deciding whether to adopt grounded theory or phenomenology in the initial phase of a PhD research project. In this case, semi‑structured interviews were used for data generation framed in an interpretivist approach, situated in a business context. Research questions for this study were thoroughly defined and carefully framed in accordance with the research paradigm’s principles, while at the same time ensuring that the requirements of both potential research methods were met. The grounded theory and phenomenology methods were compared and contrasted to determine their suitability and whether they meet the research objectives based on a pilot study. The strategy proposed in this paper is an alternative to the more ‘traditional’ approach, which initially selects the methodological formulation, followed by data generation. In conclusion, the suggested strategy for delayed research method selection intends to help researchers identify and apply the most appropriate method to their research. This strategy is based on explorations of data generation and analysis in order to derive faithful results from the data generated.

 

Keywords: research method selection, qualitative research, grounded theory, phenomenology

 

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Journal Article

Research Methodologies and Professional Practice: Considerations and Practicalities  pp141-151

Caroline Cole, Steven Chase, Oliver Couch, Murray Clark

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

Professional doctorates have been established as key arenas for learning and research with the requirement for individuals to make both a contribution to management practise and academic knowledge. Many students on these programmes are drawn from the senior business world, for which the traditionally quantitatively focused business environment is familiar territory and, from which, we often see a natural tendency towards research that embraces the positivist approach that brings with it the familiarity of hard, measurable, results‑focused business disciplines. The insight into the academic world of ontology, epistemology and the different research approaches that form part of the learning arena of the professional doctorate provides an opportunity for students to consider the qualitative research alternative and the value of this in developing professional understanding and in making a contribution to knowledge, understanding and management praxis. This paper does not seek to critique the criteria for what constitutes “good” research or to argue against positivist research in the professional research arena per se. Our position is that critical reflexive thinking has a key part to play in research in both developing the student and in closing the loop between the approach taken to carry out the research, the research findings, the contribution to academic knowledge and how the research practically informs professional practice. Reflexive exploration we contend takes us beyond simple numerical objective measures and into the field of subjective understanding, which can be unsettling for the mindset of a traditionally positivistic organisation. It can be perceived as difficult and time consuming, and offering vague or conflicting outputs and we recognise that talk of subjectivity, bias and interpretation may seriously affect the acceptability of research in this tradition amongst business people and needs careful handling. The methodology must stand up to the scrutiny of both academic and management disciplines by producing results that both these disciplines accept and understand. The rewards, we suggest, of reflexive exploration, offer the opportunity of a privileged insight into workforce behaviours and motivations that are not often articulated and recognised in the business world. Within this paper we draw upon hermeneutics and critical discourse analysis highlighting the role of critical reflexivity to illustrate how these qualitative research methodologies can be used to bring the academic and business worlds together.

 

Keywords: critical reflexivity, hermeneutics, critical discourse analysis, qualitative research, research into professional practice

 

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