When you hear people speak about qualitative research, it is easy to think that there is one approach to learn about. But, as you will learn about quantitative research, many varieties of qualitative research exist. Among the most common approaches is grounded theory and variations thereof. A reason for that could be that grounded theory tries to provide explanations and develop a theory behind the activities and events that management scholars study. Another reason might be that over the years, different ontological and epistemological foundations, have been assumed that have amended grounded theories into camps of researchers. But perhaps, it is simply because grounded theory assumes that the researcher has no interpretative frame (or theory) in his mind when studying a phenomenon. This is also sometimes phrased to mean that the researcher has no ‘a priori’ knowledge about what he/she studies. However, this is misleading, because even the most senior researchers can apply a grounded theory approach to study the world. Therefore, it is important to learn what grounded theory means and some of the different approaches that are used. Hence, in this session you will learn about three of the most prominent grounded theory scholars referenced in entrepreneurship and innovation management studies: Ann Langley, Dennis Gioia, and Kathy Eisenhardt.
However, this session will not stop with introducing one approach; it will also include some other common approaches, namely phenomenology, narrative research (hermeneutics), ethnography and case study. According to Creswell (2007), trying to allocate and categorize qualitative research into these five groups, provides you with a solid basis for becoming well-versed in qualitative research.
Gehman, J., Glaser, V. L., Eisenhardt, K. M., Gioia, D., Langley, A., & Corley, K. G. (2017). Finding theory–method fit: A comparison of three qualitative approaches to theory building. Journal of Management Inquiry, 27(3) 284-300.
Creswell, J. (2007). Chapter 4: Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, in Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches.p.53-84
If you are interested to learn more about research design, look at the additional reading:
Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: Procedures, canons and evaluative criteria. Qualitative Sociology, 13(1), 3-21.
1. Moerman – Introducing Hermeneutics (Narrative Research)
2. Moerman – Introducing Phenomenology
3. Moerman – Introducing Ethnography
4. Moerman – Introducing Grounded Theory
5. Moerman – Variations of Grounded Theory
Exercise 1.1 – Comprehend
After getting acquainted with the materials (readings, videos), formulate five research questions that suit the following research designs (one research question per research design): an ethnography, a hermeneutic study, a phenomenology, a case study, and a grounded theory study.
Exercise 1.2 – Critique
Carefully read Gehman et al. (2017) and explain what are differences between Langley, Eisenhardt and Gioia in their methodological approaches to grounded theory research.
Please check. Did you gain an understanding of the following?
- you know what is ethnography, grounded theory, phenomenology, hermeneutics and case study
- you can broadly distinguish qualitative research into 5 categories (as suggested by Creswell)
- you are aware of different approaches to grounded theory research
If you can answer everything with a confident Yes! then you have achieved the learning objective of this session.