Qualitative Methods. Chapter Topics. The nature of qualitative methods The qualitative research process The range of qualitative methods In-depth interviews Participant observation Analysis of texts Ethnography Biographical methods Grounded theory and qualitative research
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Chapter Topics • The nature of qualitative methods • The qualitative research process • The range of qualitative methods • In-depth interviews • Participant observation • Analysis of texts • Ethnography • Biographical methods • Grounded theory and qualitative research • Management contexts for the use of qualitative methods
The nature of qualitative methods • Use of qualitative rather than quantitative information: • a large amount of ‘rich’ information about a small number of subjects • Assumes that reality is socially and subjectively constructed • Researcher’s task is to uncover meanings rather than test pre-established hypotheses: usually inductive rather than deductive • Assumes people are best able to describe their own situation, beliefs, motivations etc.
Some advantages of qualitative methods • Understanding/explaining personal experiences of individuals • Focus on subjects' own understanding and interpretations • Researcher experiences issues from a participant's perspective • Reports presented in a narrative rather than a statistical form – more interesting/understandable for non-experts • Useful in examining personal changes over time • Focus on human-interest issues that are meaningful to managers
Common qualitative methods • In-depth interviews • Small number of subjects • Checklist rather than a formal questionnaire • Tape-recording + verbatim transcript • 30 minutes to several hours; repeat interviews possible. • Group interviews/focus groups • Conducted with a group • Interaction between subjects + interaction between interviewer and subject. • Participant observation • Researcher is actual participant along with subjects • Researcher known as researcher, or incognito.
In-depth interviews • Nature • Lengthy, probing interview • Encourages subject to talk • Often tape-recorded + verbatim transcript • Often uses checklist rather than questionnaire – see Fig. 7.2
In-depth interviews: purpose For research where: • Number of subjects is small - quantitative research not appropriate; • Information from subjects expected to vary considerably; or • Exploratory/preliminary stage in planning a larger study, possibly quantitative.
Interviewing • Whyte’s hierarchy of interviewer responses: • 'Uh-huh‘ • 'That's interesting‘ • Reflection - Repeating the last statement as a question • Probe - Inviting explanations of statements • Back tracking • New topic
Focus groups/group interviews • Nature • Interviewer becomes a ‘facilitator’ of the discussion • Group members interact with each other as well as the facilitator
Focus groups - Purposes • Used when: • an important group may be too small to be picked up in a sample survey • The interaction/discussion process among group members is of interest • Alternative to in-depth interview when multiple interviews not practicable
Focus groups - methods • Group size: 5-12 members • Discussion typically tape-recorded • Written summary prepared from the tape • Facilitator role similar to interviewer in in-depth interview • Facilitator: • leads discussion through the range of topics of interest • ensures that all members ‘have their say’ – avoid domination by one or more group members
Participant observation • Nature • Researcher participates in the social process being studied – eg. as employee • Purpose • To study situations where complex/detailed information required from a group: • Group dynamics • Inter-personal relationships/dealings
Participant observation - methods • Gaining access to the group: • Known as a ‘researcher’ or • Incognito? (ethical issues) • Problem of selection of suitable informants in the research environment • Practicalities of taking notes
Grounded theory • The idea that theory arises from examination of the data, rather than data being collected to test a pre-existing theory • Typically inductive approach • May involve any or all the methods discussed above
Management contexts for qualitative research • Corporate culture – exploring the way groups or networks of individuals operate in the working environment • Consumer decision-making – exploring how customers actually interact with suppliers and products and services
Summary • Qualitative research deals with non-numerical data - the collection of a large amount of ‘rich’ information concerning relatively few subjects. • Assumption: reality is socially and subjectively constructed rather than objectively determined. • Researchers and subjects seen as part of the research process seeking to uncover meanings and understandings of the issues • Involves a more fluid - recursive - relationship between the various elements of the research • Example qualitative methods includes: • in-depth interviews • focus groups • participant observation
Chapter Topics • This chapter builds on Ch. 7: Qualitative Methods • Methods will be demonstrated using interview transcripts • Data storage and confidentiality • Manual methods • Qualitative analysis using computer software - introduction • NVivo
Data storage and confidentiality • Because qualitative data may include personal opinions and details: • Security of data storage is important • Ideally, pseudonyms/codes should be used even with stored data/transcripts etc. • Efforts should be made to protect confidentiality/ anonymity of informants when reporting results
Manual methods • Topics • Introduction • Reading • Emergent themes • Mechanics • Analysis
Introduction • Recall the idea of the ‘recursive’ approach – See Fig. 7.1 • The ‘circular model of the research process’ (Fig. 2.1) becomes more complex – see Fig. 15.1
Reading + Emergent themes • Reading • The key activity in qualitative data analysis is reading and re-reading the material • Reading begins with initial research questions/models etc. in mind – but evolves • Emergent themes • Ideas/concepts which emerge are referred to as ‘emergent themes’ • For one scenario, see: • Fig. 15.2 – Initial outline conceptual framework • Fig. 15.3 – Annotated interview transcripts • Fig. 15.4 – Further developed conceptual framework
Mechanics • Annotate transcripts with ‘themes’ – as in Fig. 15.3 • Need to leave wide margins or use ‘columns’ • Colour coding may be helpful • Word-processor may be used to: • Add comments/block text in colour, underline or bold • Search for words/phrases • Code and cross-reference using indexing • Numbering paragraphs may be useful for cataloguing • Eg. Career attitude-strategic Mark: p. 2, para. 3; p. 7, para 4 Jennie: p. 7, para. 1
Analysis • ‘Crosstabulation’ to identify groups – see Fig. 15.5
Using Computer Software • Computer-aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS) packages now available • Package demonstrated here: • NVivo by QRS (Qualitative Solutions and Research Ltd)
NVivo • Topics • Introduction • Running NVivo software • Starting up • Creating a Project • Creating documents • Document attributes • Coding documents • Analysis
Starting up • Click on the NVivo icon - opens the Nvivo 'Launch Pad' - see Figure 15.6.
Creating a ‘Project’ • Click on Create a Project to reveal New Project Wizard, add: • Name: ‘Careers’ • Description: ‘Careers and Training Project’ • Switch to NVivo • NVivo Project Pad appears – see Fig. 15.6
Creating documents • Documents must be saved in Rich Text Format (.rtf) • Example interview transcripts: save as: • Int_Mark.rtf • Int_Anna.rtf • Int_Ben.rtf • Load into NVivo by: • Click on Create a Document • In New Document Wizard: Creation select Locate and import readable external files • Switch to NVivo – procedures pp. 302-303 • When all 3 files have been loaded, Explore Documents will reveal list as in Fig. 15.8
Document attributes • Similar to ‘variables’ in quantitative analysis • In Project Pad, select Documents and Edit Document Attributes • Switch to NVivo – procedures pp. 303-304 to produce Figure 15.9
Coding documents – set-up • Fig. 15.4 provides the basis for a coding system • Coding system must be set up in NVivo before documents can be coded • Connected systems of concepts as in Fig. 15.4 = Tree Nodes • Free-floating concepts not linked with others = Free Nodes • In Project Pad, select Nodes, then Create a Node, then Tree tab – to produce Fig. 15.10 • Switch to NVivo – procedures p. 305 to produce Figure 15.11
Coding documents - coding • Switch to NVivo – procedures p. 306 to produce Figure 15.12
Analysis • Processes covered here: • Searching • Searching and coding • Search Results • Selective searching • Models – conceptual frameworks
SEARCHING • Searching for occurrences of specified Nodes • Switch to NVivo – procedures pp. 307-308 to produce Figures 15.13 & 15.14