Miles and Huberman (2014, p.103-4) write: “Good research is not about good methods as much it is about good thinking. Good thinking means to look for and find patterns in the data. Good thinking means to construct substantial categories from an array of codes. Good thinking means to transcend the localness of a particular case to find its generalizability and transferability to other contexts. Research methods are excellent tools, but they are only as good as the craftsperson who uses them”. In this spirit, the final section on qualitative research aims to strengthen your craftmanship in looking at and working with data.
Essentially, data analysis in qualitative research can follow either inductive, abductive or deductive steps in systematically working with your data. Most common is an inductive analysis in which the researcher has (almost) no preconceived ideas about a phenomenon, but lets the ideas emerge from the data. Knowledge is accumulated from individual pieces of evidence. In both deductive and abductive analysis, the researcher has a clear idea of what it is he/she wants to explain (in quantitative research: the dependent variable). The deductive process starts with the generally accepted knowledge, and seeks to ‘deduce’ what that would mean in a particular case by testing the knowledge in an empirical context. The third type of reasoning, abduction, is a combination of inductive and deductive principles. When a researcher follows this type of analytical process, he/she looks at systematic combinations found in the data as well as the prior knowledge, and aims at identifying a plausible and logical explanation for a particular outcome.
A lot of researchers consider qualitative research to be inductive theory-building – and quantitative research to be deductive theory-testing. However, qualitative research can also follow a deductive logic to build theory.
After going through the readings and the videos, you should have a good understanding of the three different reasoning logics applied in qualitative research.
Dubois, A., & Gadde, L. E. (2002). Systematic combining: an abductive approach to case research. Journal of business research, 55(7), 553-560.
Gioia, D. A., Corley, K. G., & Hamilton, A. L. (2013). Seeking qualitative rigor in inductive research: Notes on the Gioia methodology. Organizational Research Methods, 16(1), 15-31.
1. Qualitative Data Analysis Basics
2. Deductive Coding and Retrieving of Information
3. Analytical Induction in Management Research
Exercise 4.1 – Comprehend
If you were to code interviews / observation data, explain how you would proceed. How do you decide when to stop coding the data? Explain your rationale.
Exercise 4.2 - Critique
Carefully read the methodology section of Farny et al. (2018), and explain when do the authors apply an inductive, an abductive or a deductive logic in analysing their data.
Please check. Did you gain an understanding of the following?
- what is inductive analysis
- how to inductively and deductively code qualitative data
- know the difference between deductive and abductive research
If you can answer everything with a confident Yes! then you have achieved the learning objective of this session.