Chapter Summary

Nonexperimental design includes qualitative design and preserves the legitimacy of qualitative design goals to answer a research question. The designs in qualitative research include ethnography, netnography (cyberethnography and virtual ethnography), phenomenology, ethnomethodology, grounded theory, historical analysis, narrative analysis, case study, conversation analysis, life story, interactional and visual texts, and more. My choice of five (ethnology, phenomenology, grounded theory, narrative, and case) represents five major approaches to qualitative research recognized by authorities and provides a degree of simplification for the benefit of new researchers.

Data collection for qualitative studies is performed through observation (participant-outsider, participant, nonparticipant, concealment, and covert), archival data, online, and various types of interviews (ethnographic, narrative, guided, biographic, problem-centered, episodic, in-depth, structured, semi-structured, open-ended, and group or focus groups).

Since the data are typically textual, in large quantities, and often “unfiltered,” their analysis and management are different from quantitative data. Although qualitative data are usually organized manually, computer-assisted textual and pictorial analysis may be used to convert data from the collection format to a numeric format.

Ethnography studies a culture or cultures that some group of people share, using participant observation over an extended period. An entire cultural group or a subgroup that interacts over time may be the study’s target.

Phenomenology investigates human experiences through the introspective descriptions of the people involved. These experiences are called lived experiences. The goal of phenomenological design is to extract the essence and meaning of the lived experience through the participants’ conscious perception of their feelings and actions surrounding the event.

Grounded theory is a design for analyzing qualitative data in which repeated ideas are identified, summarized, and grouped into conceptual categories or broader themes and a theory is built systematically from the ground up with “grounded” inductive observations.

Narrative design is where the researcher focuses on how respondents impose order on the flow of life experience and thus make sense of the events and actions they have experienced. It uses lived and told stories of a few participants to understand these experiences, which are commonly connected chronologically.

Case design entails the study of a case within a real-life, contemporary context or setting. It is a type of design in which the investigator explores a contemporary bounded system or multiple bounded systems over time, through detailed, in-depth collection involving multiple sources of information.

Mixed designs integrate quantitative and qualitative designs, the methods they employ, and a pragmatic relativist paradigm into a single study that prioritizes a quantitative or qualitative strategy as dominant or accepts them as having equal status in answering the research question. Mixed designs may be concurrent (simultaneous), with projects conducted at the same time, or sequential, with the first project informing the nature of the second.

Mixed design identification results

from crossing paradigm weighting and time order, as shown in Exhibit 7.4. The researcher prioritizes (equalizes, weights, or ascribes dominance) to either paradigm depending on the importance placed on the “fit” of the paradigm for the research question and optimal timing for data-design synergy. Two examples are illustrated in the matrix.

The ascendency of qualitative research, mixed designs, and their contribution to research in business and management were discussed. A case was made for disciplinary acceptance of mixed methods research, the need for editorial boards to respond positively to more mixed methods articles, and the need to improve awareness and training.