Qualitative Research Methods

UNIVERSITÀ DELLA SVIZZERA ITALIANA
A Mendrisio (Svizzera)

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  • Corso
  • Mendrisio (Svizzera)
Descrizione

Descrizione The overall aim of this course is to help PhD students who intend to use, or are already using qualitative research (case-study method, in particular) for research purposes. The fundamental difference between qualitative research and other (quantitative) methods is that in qualitative research, there are more variables than data points. This difference makes qualitative research very "rich", but has also led to a good deal of criticism about the rigor of the qualitative research method, particularly in terms of validity, and reliability. Perhaps most problematically, qualitative research as a research strategy is not blessed with the same reporting conventions as her brothers and sisters in quantitative methods. Both field studies (surveys without experimental controls), as well as lab studies (which do include experimental controls, by definition), enjoy well-established validity and reliability checks, which can be outsourced to computer software and reported neatly in the final report.

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Mendrisio
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Programma

Descrizione

The overall aim of this course is to help PhD students who intend to use, or are already using qualitative research (case-study method, in particular) for research purposes. The fundamental difference between qualitative research and other (quantitative) methods is that in qualitative research, there are more variables than data points. This difference makes qualitative research very "rich", but has also led to a good deal of criticism about the rigor of the qualitative research method, particularly in terms of validity, and reliability. Perhaps most problematically, qualitative research as a research strategy is not blessed with the same reporting conventions as her brothers and sisters in quantitative methods. Both field studies (surveys without experimental controls), as well as lab studies (which do include experimental controls, by definition), enjoy well-established validity and reliability checks, which can be outsourced to computer software and reported neatly in the final report.

Given these issues, during the course, we take a problem-oriented approach that looks across research stages into the question of how to craft methodologically sound qualitative research (case studies) so that they have a good chance of publication in ISI-ranked journals. Specifically, we look into each stage of the project, including design (research question, case selection, etc.), data collection and analysis (employing multiple sources of data including surveys, interviews, archival data, and participant-observation, pattern matching, etc.), as well as reporting and write-up (issues of rhetoric and style). At every stage of the process, the emphasis is on validity and reliability, and the different strategies to ensure and even enhance internal validity, construct validity, external validity (also called generalizability), and reliability. While this all sounds exceedingly nomothetic (aka deductive or positivist), we pay close attention to idiographic (commonly also called interpretivist, ideographic, or even constructivist perspectives).
The objective is to look across ideological bases for doing qualitative research to appreciate their commonalities, which are often hidden behind apparent differences. Note that we also look across disciplinary boundaries, including political science, criminology, management science, information systems, and even the popular press. Again, the ultimate objective is to get one’s research accepted by the editorial board or the thesis commission, and knowing how to do qualitative research rigorously (whether in an interpretivist or positivist sense).

Pedagogy:
2 February, 2015 3 February, 2015 4 February, 2015 5 February, 2015 Qualitative vs.
quantitative methods

Designing case study
research: Two
complimentary
approaches:Yin’s
design-approach Validity and reliability
(introduction)
Selection bias Data collection practices &
quality criteria Transparency (logic and
structure of reporting) Break Gerring’s design
approach How (not) to address
selection bias Internal validity in
qualitative data analysis Student presentations

Each day, there would be lecture sessions as well as class exercises. The articles for class exercises would be read during the class hours. However, students are supposed to have read the mandatory articles before each day’s class.
On day 4, students would do presentations on assigned readings based on their course takeaways.

Structure of the course

Day 1
Agenda

  1. The historical development of qualitative research in the social sciences: historically, why do we have qualitative research, why do we have survey and experimental methods (and what does this mean for us as case-study researchers who want to publish our work)?
  2. The ‘state of the art’ of qualitative research methods – an integrative perspective: politics, management, and sociology
  3. Strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research with respect to other methods.
  4. Methodological trade-offs between qualitative research and large-N research (experimental & survey).
  5. Definitions and components of research designs
  6. Different case study designs (multiple vs single, holistic vs. embedded)

Morning session (8:30-12:30hs): Case studies vs. quantitative methods; Yin’s design-approach
Class exercises

  • Yin, R.K. (2004). The case study anthology. London: Sage. Chapter 2.
  • Yin, R.K. (2004). The case study anthology. London: Sage. Chapter 3.
  • Yin, R.K. (2004). The case study anthology. London: Sage. Chapter 10.

Afternoon session (13:30-17:00hs): Gerring’s design approach
Mandatory reading(s)

  • Gerring, J. (2004). What is a Case Study and What Is It Good for? American Political Science Review, 98(2), 341-354.

Class exercises

  • Siggelkow, N. (2001). Evolution toward fit. Administrative Science Quarterly, 47(1), 125-159.
  • Markus, M.L (1983). Power, Politics, and MIS Implementation. Communications of the ACM, 26(6), 430-444.

Useful (further) references and readings

  • Blatter, J., & Haverland, M. (2012). Designing case studies. Explanatory approaches to small-n research.
    Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Bennet, A., & Elman, C. (2006). Qualitative research: Recent developments in case study methods. Annual Review of Political Science, 9, 455-476.
  • Gerring, J. (2007). Case Study Research: Principles and Practices. Cambridge.
  • Gerring, J; McDermott,R .(2007). An Experimental Template for Case-Study Research. American Journal of Political Science 51:3 ,88-701.
  • Gibbs, G. R. (2002). Qualitative data analysis: Explorations with NVivo. Buckingham and Philadelphia. Open University Press.
  • Glaser, B.G. & Strauss, A.L. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co. (chapter 3, in particular)
  • Lee, A.S. (1991). Integrating positivist and interpretive approaches to organizational research.
    Organization Science, 2(4), 342-365.
  • Magee, B. (1973). An introduction to Karl Popper. Open Court: La Salle, Ill. (chapters 2 & 3).
  • March, J.G., Sproull, L.S., & Tamuz, M. (1991). Learning from samples of one or fewer. Organization Science, 2(1): 1-13.
  • Mir, R., & Watson, A. (2000). ‘Strategic management and the philosophy of science: The case for a constructivist methodology’. Strategic Management Journal, 21, 941-953.
  • Pettigrew, A. (1990). ‘Longitudinal field research on change: Theory and practice’. Organization Science, 1, 3, 267-292.
  • Pratt, M. (2008). Fitting oval pegs into round holes: Tensions in evaluating and publishing qualitative research in top-tier American journals. Organizational Research Methods, 11, 481-509.
  • Yin, R.K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London, UK: Sage. Chapter 1.
Day 2
Agenda
  1. Validity and reliability (introduction)
  2. What is selection bias and why is it particularly problematic for qualitative (aka small-n) research?
  3. What types of selection bias are there and how can they be avoided?
  4. What are the implications of selection bias for interpreting our results?
  5. Internal and external validity
  6. Theory-testing case study designs

Morning session (8:30-12:30hs): Validity and reliability (introduction); Selection Bias
Mandatory reading(s)

  • Geddes, B. (1990). How the Cases You Choose Affect the Answers You Get: Selection Bias in Comparative Politics. Political Analysis, 2, 131-150
  • Dion, D. (1998). Evidence and Inference in the Comparative Case Study. Comparative Politics, 30, 127-146.
  • Slater, D., & Ziblatt, D. (2013). The Enduring Indispensability of the Controlled Comparison.
    Comparative Political Studies. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0010414012472469.

Afternoon session (13:30-15hs): How (not) to Address Selection Bias
Class exercises

  • Sex, writhes, and videotape. The Economist, May 3rd, 2014.
  • Doz, Y. (1996). The evolution of cooperation in strategic alliances: Initial conditions or learning
    processes. Strategic Management Journal, 17 (special issue), 55-83.
  • Grant, R. M. (2003). Strategic planning in a turbulent environment: Evidence from the oil majors.
    Strategic Management Journal, 24(6), 491-517.
  • Markoczy, L. (2001). Consensus formation during strategic change. Strategic Management Journal, 22(11), 1013-1031.

Useful (further) references and readings

  • Benbasat, I., Goldstein, D., and Mead, M. (1987). The case research strategy in studies of information systems. MIS Quarterly, 11(3), 369-386.
  • Campbell, D.T. (1975). Degrees of freedom and the case study. Comparative Political Studies, 8, 178-193.
  • Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2008). Strategies of qualitative inquiry (Vol. 2). Sage.
  • Klein, H.K., et al. (1999). A set of principles for conducting and evaluating interpretive field studies in information systems. MIS Quarterly, 23, 64-97.
  • Lee, A.S. (1989). A scientific methodology for management information systems case studies.
    Management Information Systems Quarterly, 13(1), 33-50.
Day 3

Agenda

  1. What is theory building and how is it different from theory testing?
  2. The qualitative research database
  3. Six sources of evidence and what to do with them (triangulation)
  4. Three principles of data collection
  5. Validity and reliability issues (particularly construct validity and reliability)
Morning session (8:30-12:30hs): Data Collection Practices & Quality Criteria

Mandatory reading(s)

  • Sullivan, C. J. (2011). The utility of the deviant case in the development of criminological theory.
    Criminology, 49(3), 905-920.
  • Gerring, J. (2007). Techniques for choosing cases. In J. Gerring Case Study Research (pp. 97-108 i.e.from extreme case until and including deviant case).
Afternoon session (13:30-17hs): Internal Validity in Qualitative Data Analysis

Class exercises

  • The birdmuda triangle. The Economist, February 2nd, 2013.
  • Zott, C., & Huy, N.G. (2007). How entrepreneurs use symbolic management to acquire resources.
    Administrative Science Quarterly, 52(1), 70-105.
  • Ye, G., Priem, R. L., & Alshwer, A. A. (2012). Achieving demand-side synergy from strategic
    diversification: How combining mundane assets can leverage consumer utilities. Organization Science, 23(1), 207-224.

Useful (further) references and readings

  • Gerring, J. (2007). Internal validity: An experimental template. In J. Gerring Case Study Research (pp.151-172).
  • Eisenhardt, K.M., & Graebner, M.E. (2007). Theory building from cases: Opportunities and challenges. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 25-32.
  • George, A.L. B. Alexander George (1979). Case Studies and Theory Development: The Method of
    Structured, Focused Comparison, in P.G. Lauren, Diplomacy: New Approaches in History, Theory, and Policy (New York: Free Press, 1979), pp. 43-68.
  • Dyer, G.D., & Wilkins, A.L. (1991). Better stories, not better constructs to create theory: A rejoinder to Eisenhardt. Academy of Management Review, 16, 613-619.
  • Lee, A.S. (2003). Generalizing generalizability in information systems research. Information Systems Research, 14(3), 221-243.
  • Miles, M.B. (1979). Qualitative data as an attractive nuisance: The problem of analysis. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24(4), 590-601.

Day 4

Agenda

  1. Transparency in qualitative research: How to best report study results
  2. Logic and structure in writing up
  3. Wrapping up!

Morning session (8:30-12:30hs):Transparency (Logic and structure of reporting)
Mandatory reading(s)
  • Gibbert, M., & Ruigrok, W. (2010). The What and How of case study rigor: Three strategies based on published work. Organizational Research Methods,13 (4), 710-737 .
  • Gibbert, M., Ruigrok, W., & Wicki, B. (2008). What passes as a rigorous case study? Strategic
    Management Journal, 29, 1465-1474.

Afternoon session (13:30-17hs): Individual presentations and wrapping up
Mandatory reading(s)- final presentation

  • TBD

Useful (further) references and readings

  • Siggelkow, N. (2007). Persuasion with case studies. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 1, 20-24.
  • Weick, K. (2007). The generative properties of richness. Academy of Management Journal, 50, 1, 14-19.
  • Sutton, R.T., & Straw, B.M. (1995). ‘What theory is not’, Administrative Studies Quarterly, 40, 3, 371- 384.
  • Yin, R.K. (1981). The case study crisis: Some Answers. Administrative Science Quarterly, 26(1), 58-65.
  • Yin, R.K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London, UK: Sage. Chapter 5.


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