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Designing a Qualitative Research Project Consistent with its Explicit or Implicit Epistemological Framework

Author

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  • Marie-José Avenier
  • Catherine Thomas

    ()

Abstract

This paper intends to offer guidance for designing and conducting qualitative research projects of high quality. It subscribes to the view that it is essential to locate any research project within a philosophical tradition to enable cogent justification and evaluation of the knowledge elaborated in the research project. It builds upon the view that the diversity of guidelines for rigorous qualitative research offered in the literature stems from their explicit or implicit association with different epistemological frameworks. It revisits, refines and extends in several ways extant typologies of criteria for conducting and evaluating qualitative research. We provide an overview of epistemological paradigms frequently mobilized in contemporary research in management, explicitly taking into account the epistemological frameworks of critical realism and pragmatic constructivism for three main reasons: these frameworks are solidly-grounded, increasingly mobilized in management research, and stand in an intermediary position between the two most frequently discussed epistemological traditions, namely the modernist and the postmodernist ones. We explain the epistemological reasons why certain kinds of qualitative research methods are adapted to carrying out research in certain epistemological frameworks, whereas they are not adapted for use in other frameworks. In addition, for each of these epistemological traditions, we present at least one kind of qualitative method adapted to doing research in this tradition. The explanations provided about consistency between research methods and epistemological frameworks constitute useful landmarks for navigating among the various kinds of methods and numerous guidelines available in the literature for doing rigorous qualitative research. Precise clues are also offered for making sound methodological decisions from the start of a research project through to publication of research results.

Suggested Citation

  • Marie-José Avenier & Catherine Thomas, 2013. "Designing a Qualitative Research Project Consistent with its Explicit or Implicit Epistemological Framework," GREDEG Working Papers 2013-14, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:gre:wpaper:2013-14
    Note: To request an electronic copy of this paper, please email the author at Catherine.Thomas@gredeg.cnrs.fr
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