Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research: An Example of Grounded Theory Data Analysis

Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research: An Example of Grounded Theory Data Analysis

Rifat Kamasak (Bahcesehir University, Turkey), Altan Kar (Yeditepe University, Turkey), Meltem Yavuz (Istanbul University, Turkey) and Sibel Baykut (Bahcesehir University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2250-8.ch002
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This chapter aims to elaborate different research methods that can be employed in organizational studies. Since the complex and indivisible relationships between the constructs and nature of the social content about the phenomena can be understood better through qualitative methods, importance of qualitative investigation is mentioned and a detailed explanation of grounded theory data analysis as a qualitative method is provided. Grounded Theory mainly suggests that theory can be discovered in qualitative data. The theory employs a specific method that follows symbolic interactionism in viewing humans as active agents in their own lives who create meaning in the processes of action and interaction. Grounded Theory which deems researchers as active participants in the construction of knowledge leading to generation of theory has been used in organizational research widely. Therefore, the chapter also offers an example of the application of grounded theory by using several extracts from the sample transcripts of interviewees.
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The selection of a research methodology is crucial since it guides the conduct of the research and affects the quality and the accuracy of research results (Creswell, 2014; He & van de Vijver, 2016; Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012; Scandura & Williams, 2000). Remenyi et al. (1998) stress the critical role of an appropriate methodology choice in obtaining thorough knowledge about a specific problem. The extant research methods literature provides two major research paradigms: positivism and phenomenology (Collis & Hussey, 2013; Robson & McCartan, 2016). The term research paradigm has emerged from Kuhn’s (1962) view and has been used “to denote a particular worldview that constitutes a researcher’s values, beliefs and methodological assumptions” (O’Neil & Koekemoer, 2016, p. 3).

The assumptions of each paradigm show differences in terms of researchers’ ontology, epistemology, axiology, and methodology (Eriksson & Koalainen, 2008; Howell, 2016). While positivism describes ontology as being objective, phenomenology describes subjective (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006; Saunders et al., 2012). Typically, positivist research is equated with quantitative research but qualitative research is linked phenomenology paradigm. Therefore, different labels for these paradigms are frequently used in the methodology literature. While rationalist, normative, and quantitative terms are interchangeably used to describe the positivism paradigm, phenomenology is often termed as social constructivism, interpretivism and qualitative research.

Positivists suggest that “exploration can only be based upon observed and captured facts using direct data or information” because of the concrete and external nature of the world (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002, p. 25). However, the phenomenology paradigm posits that “the real world is determined by people rather than by objective and external observable facts” (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002, p. 26). Truth and reality are deemed as social phenomena that do not act independently from social actors. Dynamics of social events along with the human activity make the social world too complex to be explained in simple positivist terms. Obviously, this complex world cannot be explored without discovering all details of social relations, events, situations and the mechanisms behind such situations (Collis & Hussey, 2013; Remenyi et al., 1998).

In the phenomenological paradigm, human activity was concerned with “a collection of symbols expressing layers of meaning” (Maqsood, 2006, p. 93). In a similar line, Blustein et al. (2005) and Willig (2013) state that phenomenological paradigm is especially relevant for the studies where work is embedded in complex layers of social, cultural, and political meanings. Therefore, the phenomena can only be analyzed and understood through “assessing the meanings that participants assign to them” (Rastrick, 2008, p. 54).

Empirical work and theoretical knowledge are often seen as the most interesting, valuable and prestigious part of a scientific study. But lack of theoretical contribution was frequently mentioned by scholars in most of the organizational research (Aytug et al., 2012; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, & Podsakoff, 2016). According to Alvesson and Kärreman (2013), “the empirical and theoretical elements are not always engaged in a productive interplay” (p. 2), since the most appropriate methodology that can bridge this gap was not always selected by researchers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Barney G. Glaser and Anslem L. Strauss: Sociologists who offered a general model for constructing new theory called grounded theory.

Theory Building: The process of building a statement of concepts and their interrelationships that shows how and/or why a phenomenon occurs.

Grounded theory: A structured approach to forming and eliciting theory grounded in data.

Emergent Reconstruction: Emergent processes that occur through interaction, constructed by researchers from the fabric of interactions, both witnessed and lived.

Research Methodology: The process of collecting information and data and analysing the data for the purpose of scientific inquiry.

Interviewing: A face-to-face interaction with someone to have accurate information about something.

Qualitative Research Methods: Research methods in which the researcher trusts textual data more than numerical data and analyzes this data in its textual form instead of transforming it into numbers for analysis, with the objective of understanding the meaning of human action.

Data Coding and Analysis: The process of combing the data for themes, ideas and categories and inspecting them to discover useful information.

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