In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Qualitative Research Methods

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Reference Resources
  • Journals
  • Philosophies Underpinning Qualitative Research

Management Qualitative Research Methods
Catherine Cassell
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 January 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 January 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0026


Qualitative research methods in the field of management typically rely on nonquantitative forms of data collection and nonstatistical forms of data analysis. A variety of methods are encompassed under this umbrella term, and because these methods are used in a diversity of philosophical approaches, they offer a complex and rich source of research techniques. Qualitative researchers are keen to generate rich data that focus on the meanings and interpretations that individuals or groups ascribe to a given concept or situation. Because research usually takes place in naturalistic settings, such as in organizations, researchers may be concerned with reflexivity or the researcher’s impact on the conduct of the research and the production of knowledge. Furthermore, qualitative researchers see the informants in their research as active participants in the research process rather than simply as subjects who are on the receiving end of various treatments. A number of different research strategies can focus entirely on qualitative methods, including Case Studies, Ethnography, and Action Research. Above all, the qualitative researcher seeks to use these methods to access the subjective experience of organizational life and behavior.


An increasing number of textbooks in this area seek to introduce the reader to qualitative research. Some authors provide their own scoping of the field and highlight some of the key qualitative research methods and their accompanying challenges, as in Lee 1999. Other texts present an overview of the various methods of data collection and analysis, such as Cassell and Symon 2004, Symon and Cassell 2012, and Eriksson and Kovalainen 2008.

  • Cassell, Catherine, and Gillian Symon, eds. Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research. London: SAGE, 2004.

    Contains twenty-eight individually authored chapters, each of which focuses on a different qualitative method. Chapters are written by researchers who have used the method in their own empirical work.

  • Eriksson, Päivi, and Anne Kovalainen. Qualitative Methods in Business Research. London: SAGE, 2008.

    This book provides a comprehensive guide to the different methods of qualitative research.

  • Lee, Thomas W. Using Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1999.

    Provides an overview of different mixed-methods designs and a range of different strategies and methods for qualitative research.

  • Symon, Gillian, and Catherine Cassell, eds. Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and Current Challenges. London: SAGE, 2012.

    Twenty-seven chapters written by different qualitative researchers about the key issues involved and methods used in conducting qualitative organizational research.

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