The overall aim of the project was to enhance good practice in the use of qualitative
methods in management research. If management researchers, practitioners
and policy makers are to make the most of the range of qualitative methodological
approaches available they need to be aware of their existence; know their
relevance to a variety of research questions and how to use them; and be
able to evaluate qualitative research using appropriate criteria. The training
and dissemination to be developed in this project is designed to address
these issues through increasing knowledge and encouraging a critical and
reflexive approach to research. In order to pursue this goal effectively,
we are exploring existing perspectives on: the utility of qualitative methods;
problems in their application; and appropriate assessment criteria.
The specific objectives were to:
• Conduct a systematic investigation into current perceptions of qualitative
methods in management research, including perceived barriers to their use;
• Identify perceptions of good practice in conducting qualitative management
• Ascertain perceptions of skill deficits in this area and the factors
viewed as contributing to these deficits;
• Develop materials and training workshops to encourage informed and reflexive
practice in qualitative management research;
• Develop an appropriate, specific and accessible set of benchmarking criteria
for assessing qualitative management research, which takes into account variations
in perceptions of good practice.
During the first year we conducted research via a series of expert panels
focussing on what people see as good practice in the use of qualitative methods;
and what training needs they identify in this area. This research consists
of 45 interviews conducted by the researcher and the grant holders and focuses
on four expert panels.
Panel A: Academic disseminators. The panel includes international academics,
journal editors; members of professional associations.
Panel B: Industrial panel. This panel includes those from both the public and
private sector who conduct and use qualitative research.
Panel C: Doctoral panel. Those who currently run university PhD programmes.
Panel D: Qualitative researchers panel. This panel includes those who have
published within the area of qualitative methods in management research; or
who use qualitative methods regularly as part of their substantive research.
Semi-structured interviews have been conducted focusing on the following issues:
• Interviewees understanding of ‘qualitative research’
• The purpose of qualitative and quantitative research
• Defining characteristics of management research
What constitutes ‘good’ qualitative research and how this can be
• The relevance and status of qualitative research within a management
discipline and in practice
• What skills and knowledge people might need to carry out and evaluate
qualitative management research
• How the quality and profile of qualitative management research can be
Analysis of primary and secondary data is taking place throughout the project
and will be used to inform each stage, culminating in the production of an
interim report, on the use and status of qualitative methods within the management
research arena. Panel members will be invited to comment and provide feedback
on the draft report, before publication and circulation to all stakeholder
groups and a wider audience.
During the second year of the project, emphasis was on developing the
research results from year one into practical outputs, including:
A resource pack was developed to provide a set of guidelines for good practice.
They focused on issues such as making sense of the underlying epistemological
and ontological approaches behind the use of various qualitative methods; criteria
for evaluating the quality of qualitative research; resources for qualitative
data analysis; reading lists; choosing an appropriate form of data analysis;
details of software for qualitative data analysis. The aim is to provide a
pack that will be useful to a wide range of stakeholder groups, including those
who currently train doctoral students, researchers using qualitative methods
in management research, and government social researchers. This enabled
the output of the research delivery through existing management research
The website was developed during the second year of the project
providing a dissemination forum for much of the material generated. It is
hoped that the website will be used to provide continuous support through
the establishment of a network of qualitative management researchers and