PhD Seminar: Qualitative Research Methods (Nov 2020)

Seminar for PhD students (regular and industrial) in business, organization, marketing, and management

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 09:30 to Friday, November 6, 2020 - 14:00




Professor Torsten Ringberg, Department of Marketing, Copenhagen Business School
Professor Dr. Markus Reihlen, Institute of Management and Organization, Leuphana University of Lüneburg

Course coordinator Professor Torsten Ringberg


This PhD seminar is for PhD students (regular and industrial) in business, organization, marketing, and management. However, students from other social science disciplines may also find this course relevant for developing a qualitative research approach. The two instructors bring with them extensive experiences with social science theories and how to extract relevant data using a range of methods, such as case-studies and semi-structured in-depth interviews. Both instructors have published in leading international academic journals.

Qualitative research is a research strategy that emphasizes large bodies of unstructured data (textual, graphical, audio, and video data) that cannot be meaningfully analyzed by formal, statistical approaches. Despite differences, qualitative research approaches share at least the following two assumptions: (1) by systematically generating and analyzing data new theory can be discovered (inductive view), and (2) this theory stresses the understanding of the socio-cultural world through an examination of interpretations of that world by its participants. Since each particular research method is informed by different philosophical traditions, this course will first introduce different philosophical perspectives ranging from positivism to interpretivism and postmodernism. Students will then be introduced to various theoretical orientations within the interpretive paradigm and how each brings along certain epistemological assumptions as to the construction of meaning and representation of reality/ies a well as require unique methodological considerations. We will cover various qualitative approaches (e.g., grounded theory, action research, case studies, ZMET) and discuss their pros and cons given your particular research question. Whereas the case studies and participant observations represent a holistic approach, the ZMET semi-structured in-depth interview surfaces subconsciously mindsets (mental models) that inform and motivate the sensemaking related to a given issue within a given group or subculture of people under study. 

Qualitative methods provide the opportunity to gain new insights into motivators of behavior and to build new theory. As part of the course students will be introduced to how to analyze the data through grounded theory (coding), which is a general method involving comparative analyses for qualitative data. The idea of the grounded theory is to code the text into meaningful themes that enable the identification of deep- seated socio-cultural models, propositions, assumptions and mid-range theories. The approach is primarily inductive, i.e., there are no prior hypotheses to be established or tested but rather a research question to be explored. The insights from qualitative research can, in addition to theory building, also be used to establish hypotheses that can be addressed quantitatively (surveys, experimentally etc.). As such, quantitatively oriented students might also benefit from this course. 
The qualitative data analysis is supported by different software packages (e.g., NVivo, Nudist, Atlas.ti, MAXQDA). Only Atlas.ti will be covered more generally. It is possible to download and install a training version of the software program Atlas.ti 7.0 on your laptop computer. Link: Also, you can consult online tutorials for a more detailed coverage- see below links). The course represents a doctorate workshop. Throughout the course, initiatives, creativity, and critical thinking on part of the students will be appreciated and encouraged.

Course content

This course is designed as a seminar, which requires preparation by students before each session and dynamic interaction in the classroom. Students are encouraged to debate their particular views, methodological problems, and research issues in class. In order to get a certificate from the Copenhagen Business School you have to pass the following components:

• A short group presentation. Students will be assigned to small groups after enrollment. Each group will prepare an in-class presentation of one academic papers and present it. It should include no more than five slides that concisely (and briefly) highlight the research problem, research contribution (the hook, why it is relevant and interesting), research design, theoretical framework, methods, findings, discussion (incl. your take-aways). Each group will be allotted 15 min for the presentation. You will need to read, discuss, and prepare the short presentation among you via email etc. before the course starts and submit it to us prior to the start of the course.
• A short research proposal. Here, you formulate a research problem of your choice (preferably from your own research field or one you envision using for a PhD paper), its contribution (relevance), theoretical framework, and the research design (method to collect data). It should be approx. 10 pages (double line-space) in length. You should hand in the research proposal latest two weeks before course start. You will present and discuss this in the course. Within two weeks after the course ends, you submit an updated version of your proposal based on feedback and general knowledge acquired during the course to the course coordinators. It will then be submitted for review by a fellow student, who we choose (see next bullet point).
• Review of a research proposal. In order to learn from each other you also will be asked to write a constructive review (approx. 1-2 pages long) of a fellow PhD student’s updated research proposal and turn this in two weeks after you receive it (four weeks after the course ends). We will provide additional information about how to write a constructive review.
• In-class participation: We expect you to show up for all seminar sessions and participate actively throughout, including challenge existing assumptions/theories/methods and present your own thoughts and work in class.

Teaching style

Instructors will cover core material incl. active student participation (lectures and discussions). Student presentations. Discussion with students about their individual research projects.

Lecture plan

Tuesday 3 Nov


9.30 – 12.00

1. Philosophical Foundations of Social Research
Introductory lecture and discussion

 • Crotty, M. (1998): The foundations of social research. Meaning and perspective in the research process, Sage: London, chap. 1.
• Cunliffe, A. L. (2011). Crafting qualitative research: Morgan and Smircich 30 years on. Organizational Research Methods, 14(4), 647-673.
• Reihlen, M.; Klaas-Wissing, Th; Ringberg, T. (2007): Metatheories in Management Studies: Reflections upon Individualism, Holism, and Systemism, in: M@n@gement, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 49-69.



13.00 –14.30

2. Qualitative Research: Design and Approaches
Lecture and discussion
Team activity: systematic comparison/discussion of background theories.

• Locke, K. and Golden-Biddle, K. (2004): An introduction to qualitative research: its potential for industrial and organizational psychology, in: Handbook of research methods in industrial and organizational psychology, edited by S. G. Rogelberg, S. G., Blackwell: Oxford: 99-118.
• Maxwell, Joseph A. (2008) Designing a Qualitative Study, in: The SAGE handbook of applied social research methods, 2, edited by Leonard Bickman and Debra J. Rog, Sage: Los Angeles, 214-253.

14.30 – 17.00

 3. Design and Method of Case Study Research
Lecture and discussion  

• Eisenhardt, K. und Graebner, M. E. (2007): Theory building from cases: opportunities and challenges, in: Academy of Management Journal, 50, 1: 25-32
• Yin, K.R. (2003): Case study research: Design and Methods – Third Edition, Thousand Oaks, pp. 1-56.

Wednesday 4 Nov


9.30 – 12.00

4. Short group presentations of academic papers
 Presentations and discussion of assigned academic articles 



13.00 – 17.00 

5. Cognition and mental models 

6. Interviews. Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Techniques (ZMET), including laddering and mindmapping (Method)
Identification of codes, constructs, themes, mental models and collective mindmaps.
Case study MET
Class exercises

• Ringberg & Reihlen (2008). “Toward a Socio-Cognitive Approach to Knowledge Transfer” in Journal of Management Studies Vol. 45 No 5, pp. 912-935
• Ringberg, Odekerken-Schröder & Christensen (2007) “A cultural models approach to segmenting consumer recovery expectations,” in Journal of Marketing, Vol.71 (July), pp. 194-214. 
• Luna, Ringberg & Peracchio (2008), “One Individual, Two Identities: Frame Switching Among Biculturals,” in Journal of Consumer Research Vol. 35, No 2, pp. 279-293. 
• Christensen & Olson (2002) “Mapping Consumers’ Mental Models with ZMET”, Psychology & Marketing, Vol 19(6), pp 477-502.
• Zaltman & Coulter (1995). “Seeing the voice of the customer: Metaphor-based advertising research,” Journal of Advertising Research, 35(4): 35-51. 
• Ringberg & Gupta (2003), “The Importance of Understanding the Symbolic World of Customers in Asymmetric Business-to-Business Relationships,” in Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Special Issue on Qualitative Approaches in B-2-B. Vol. 18 No 6/7.  Pp. 607-626. 
• Ryden, Ringberg & Wilke, R. (2015), “The influence of Mental Models of Business- Consumer Interaction on Social Media Use” in Journal of Interactive Marketing, Vol. 31, August, pp 1-16. 
• Ringberg, Reihlen & Rydén (2019) “The technology-mindset interactions: Leading to incremental, radical, or revolutionary innovations“ in Industrial Marketing Management Vol 79, p102-113.

Thursday 5 Nov


9.30 – 12.00 

7. Grounded Theory (coding cont.)
Lecture on using grounded theory approach to coding and identification of themes

• Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: Procedures, canons, and evaluative criteria. Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 19(6), 418-427.
• Gioia, D. A., Corley, K. G., & Hamilton, A. L. (2013). Seeking qualitative rigor in inductive research: Notes on the Gioia methodology. Organizational research methods, 16(1), 15-31.
• Suddaby, R. (2006) What grounded theory is not. In: Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 633-642.




8. Workshop: Qualitative Research Designs
Groups: Case study
Groups: ZMET
Group: Discourse analysis
Group: Qualitative Meta-Analysis 

Group 1: Smets, M., Morris, T. I. M., & Greenwood, R. (2012). From practice to field: A multilevel model of practice-driven institutional change. Academy of Management Journal, 55(4), 877-904. i
Group 2: Ringberg, T., Odekerken-Schröder, G., & Christensen, G. L. (2007). A cultural models approach to service recovery. Journal of Marketing, 71(3), 194-214.
Group 3: Maguire, S., & Hardy, C. (2013). Organizing processes and the construction of risk: A discursive approach. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 231-255.
Group 4: Habersang, S., Küberling-Jost, J., Reihlen, M., & Seckler, C. (2019). A process perspective on organizational failure: A qualitative meta-analysis. Journal of Management Studies, 56(1), 19-56.

14:30 – 17.00

9. Presentations of individual research projects
Presentations, discussion and feedback to student research proposals

Friday 6 Nov



10. Writing Qualitative Research papers
Lecture on positioning, contribution, theoretical framing and related methods including examples of different types of 
• Narrative 
• Phenomenon-driven 
• Theory-driven 
• Exploratory 
• Meta-analysis
• Mixed methods
 • Maxwell, J. A. (2013). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Sage publications, chap. 7
-> chap. 7 offers good examples of how to structure a research proposal
• Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. (2011). Generating research questions through problematization. Academy of Management Review, 36(2), 247-271. 
• Pratima B. and Corley, K. 2011. From the editors: The coming of age for qualitative research, Academy of Management Journal, 2011, Vol. 54, No. 2, p. 233-237
• Ragins, B. R. (2012). Reflections on the craft of clear writing. Academy of Management Review, 37(4), 493-501. 



• Within two weeks after the course ends, you submit an updated version of your proposal based on feedback and general knowledge acquired during the course to the course coordinators. They will then submit it for review to one of your fellow student, who we choose (see next bullet point).
• Review of a research proposal. In order to learn from each other you also will be asked to write a constructive review (approx. 1-2 pages long) of a fellow PhD student’s updated research proposal and turn this in two weeks after you receive it (four weeks after the course ends). We will provide additional information about how to write a constructive review.


Please register your topic of your PhD thesis or research interests as well as your PhD Supervisor (to CBS) - name and email. 

Updated course information will be distributed to students via email. 

Atlas.ti 7 for Windows
Atlas.ti for Mac Introduction
Approaches to Coding by Susanne Friese 

Start date 03/11/2020

End date 06/11/2020

Level PhD


Language English

Course literature

Additional useful qualitative research literature

Philosophical Foundations of Social Research Pre-reading 
• Alvesson, M., & Sköldberg, K. (2009). Reflexive methodology: New vistas for qualitative research. Sage: London, chap. 1-3. 
• Bunge, M. (1996) Finding philosophy in social science, New Haven: Yale University Press. 
• Crotty, M. (1998) The foundations of social research. Meaning and perspective in the research process, Sage: London. 

Qualitative Research Methods 
• Flick, Uwe; von Kardorff, Ernst; Steinke, Ines (Eds.) (2004) A companion to qualitative research, Sage: London.
• Maxwell, J. A. (2012). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach (Vol. 41). Sage publications.
• Miles, M.B.; Huberman, M.A. (1994): Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook, 2nd. ed., Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Action Research
• Coghlan, D. (2011). Action research: Exploring perspectives on a philosophy of practical knowing. Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), 53-87.
• Reason, P.; Bradbury, H. (2013) The Sage handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice. Sage: London.

Case study research
• Dyer, W.G.; Wilkins, A.L. (1991), ‘Better Stories, Not Better Constructs, To Generate Better Theory: A Rejoinder to Eisenhardt’, Academy of Management Review, 16, 3, pp. 613-619.
• Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989), Building theories from case study research, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 14, No. 4, S. 532–550.
• Gibbert, M., Ruigrok, W., & Wicki, B. (2008). What passes as a rigorous case study?. Strategic management journal, 29(13), 1465-1474.Langley, A. (1999). Strategies for theorizing from process data. Academy of Management Review, 24(4), 691-710. 

• Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (2007). Ethnography: Principles in practice: Routledge.
• Smets, M.; Burke, G.; Jarzabkowski, P. (2014) Charting new territory for organizational ethnography: Insights from a team-based video ethnography, Journal of Organizational Ethnography, 3(1):10-26.

Grounded Theory
• Bryant, A.; Charmaz, K. (Eds.) (2007) The SAGE Handbook of Grounded Theory, Sage: Thousand Oaks.
• Glaser, B.; Strauss, A. (1967): The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research, Aldine: Chicago.
• Glaser, B. G. 1992. Basics of grounded theory analysis. Mill Valley, California: Sociology Press.
• Locke, K. (2001): Grounded theory in management research, London: Sage
• O’Reilly, K., Paper, D., & Marx, S. (2012). Demystifying grounded theory for business research. Organizational Research Methods, 15(2), 247-262.
• Strauss, A.; Corbin, J. (1998): Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory, 2nd ed., Sage: Thousand Oaks.

Qualitative Meta-Analysis
• Hoon, C. (2013), Meta-synthesis of qualitative case studies: an approach to theory building’, Organizational Research Methods, 16(4): 522–556.
• Finfgeld-Connett, D. (2018). Introduction to Theory-Generating Meta-Synthesis Research. In A Guide to Qualitative Meta-synthesis. Routledge.
• Rousseau,D.M.,Manning, J.,&Denyer,D. (2008). Evidencein management and organizational science: Assembling the field’s full weight to scientific knowledge through synthesis. Academy of Management Annals, 2, 475-515

Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET)
• Zaltman, G.; Coulter, R. H. 1995. Seeing the voice of the customer: Metaphor-based advertising research. Journal of Advertising Research, 35(4): 35-51.
• Zaltman, Gerald (2003). How customers think: Essential insights into the mind of the market. Harvard Business School Press: Cambridge.

Fee DKK 6,500

Minimum number of participants 14

Maximum number of participants 20


Copenhagen Business School

Kilevej 14A, room TBA
2000 Frederiksberg

Contact information

Content of the course: Torsten Ringberg -

Administration: Bente S. Ramovic -

Registration deadline 24/09/2020

Please note that your registration is binding after the registration deadline.

Read more here

Register here


The page was last edited by: Department of Marketing // 01/25/2024