A methodological and epistemological introduction to qualitative research
You are a sociologist, a researcher in management, political science or anthropology, and you have chosen to meet people in a company, in an organization or in the social world to interview them and observe their day-to-day behavior. In short, you have chosen the comprehensive methodology that is usually called qualitative research.
The questions you ask yourself are practical: How and where to start? How to do a review of the literature? How to develop good ideas? They are also technical: How do I describe what I see and work out a narrative of what is going on? Finally, they are epistemological (but it turns out these are just as practical): What kind of theory can I use and produce? In what sense can what I am doing be said to be science?
Aimed at a broad range of researchers, beginners or advanced, historians, management scientists, sociologists, anthropologists or economists, all looking to develop a rigorous understanding of interactions and actors behaviors, this book should help them to formulate the right methodological questions and to find ways of addressing them in original ways.
Hervé Dumez is Directeur de Recherche (CNRS and École polytechnique) and director of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation (i3), Paris, France. He is associate editor of the European Management Review and the author and co-author of about sixty papers in peer-reviewed journals, as well as of ten books. The French version of this book received the Best Research Book of the Year Award from the Fondation Nationale pour l Enseignement de la Gestion des Entreprises (FNEGE) in 2015.
1: What is comprehensive research? 13
2: Where should I start? 33
3: Why and how to make a literature review? 43
4: How to get ideas? 59
5: How to treat the material: free-floating attention and coding 67
6: How to treat the material: The templates 85
7: What is description? 95
Section I. The strangeness of description 96
Section II. How to elaborate a description 101
Section III. Should description exclude value judgments? 112
8: What is narration? 121
9: What kinds of theoretical outcomes can be expected from a comprehensive approach? 137
Section I. What is a mechanism? 137
Section II. What is a typology? 143
Section III. What is a concept? 148
10: In what sense can comprehensive research be said to be scientific? 167
Section I. Comprehensive approach as a continuous and rectifying exchange between theories and facts 167
Section II. A logic of discovery: Abduction 175
Section III. Does the comprehensive approach belong to a particular epistemological paradigm ? 184
11: By way of a non-conclusion191