Qualitative Research Methods Seminar (15 October – 4 December 2015)


Michel Avital
Jan Mouritsen
Mats Alvesson
Chee-Wee Tan
Anna Linda Musacchio Adorisso
Torkil Clemmensen
Dorte Lønsmann

And additional faculty members from LIMAC as needed.


Course coordinator 

The Qualitative Research Methods course is designed for doctoral students who are interested in pursuing qualitative research projects in social sciences. A primary objective of the course is to help participants acquire the necessary skills that will enable them to design, execute, report and critically review qualitative research in social sciences with an emphasis on management as well as LIMAC related fields. Participants will gain foundational knowledge of qualitative research methods and the considerations that go into the design of empirical studies employing such methods.

Teaching style 

Structure and Format

The course is designed as a sequence of 3 two-day blocks to allow sufficient time for in-depth reading and reflection. Overall, the course provides 6 six-hour meetings, each covering a key topic on qualitative research methods in social sciences. The meetings are in the form of participatory seminars that comprise class presentations, directed discussions and practical workshops. In addition to an appreciative and/or critical review of extant literature on qualitative research methods, the seminars seek to encourage constructive dialogue aimed at helping students to tackle research questions in a qualitative fashion, which builds on and extends contemporary knowledge.

Given the aforementioned learning objectives, the course is designed with a heavy reading load. Reading the materials beforehand and participating actively in class assignments and dialogues are essential for getting a firm grasp of the course content. For each seminar, students should read the assigned articles or books, and be prepared to answer questions and discuss any other issues pertaining to the assigned reading material. Furthermore, for select seminars, students will be expected to prepare a take-home assignment that will be discussed in the next class.




A Pass/Fail grade will be based on individual take-home 5 pages written exam. Passing grade on four individual one page conversation starters and a coding exercise assignment are a prerequisite for taking the exam.

Conversation Starters
In preparation for the designated sessions (#2-5), each student should prepare and distribute prior to each session a one page “conversation starter” that synthesizes the assigned readings and integrates personal insights thereof. The conversation starters that related to each topic should be posted in the course student forum in Learn by the end of weekend prior to the residency.  

Coding Exercise

The coding exercise involves the analysis of primary and/or secondary data with NVivo (or qualitative analysis software of your choice). Further information about the coding exercise will be provided in the class on 13th November 2015.

Written Exam

Exam will take the form of an individual take-home 5 pages written exam that is designed to foster the application of the qualitative research methods covered in the course.

The paper should emulate the research design section of a doctorate thesis. Accordingly, the paper should outline the design of a qualitative empirical study for investigating one's domain of interest or any other contemporary or emerging topic in social sciences. The paper should incorporate the following elements:

  • Selected topic to be investigated via qualitative research models (in brief)
  •  Significance of the selected topic (in brief)
  • Prior research on the selected topic (in brief)
  • Research question(s) to be answered based on the selected topic
  • Theoretical lens to guide data collection and analysis (in details)
  • Qualitative research strategy being adopted to answer the research question(s) (in details)
    •     Protocols for data collection
    •     Possible data source(s)
    •     Proposed data analytical technique(s) to be utilized
  • Potential contributions to theory and practice (in brief)

All work must be original material that is produced individually. The paper is due two weeks following the last session of the course. Re-take exam, if necessary, will be administrated about a month later.

Learning objectives 

At the end of the course, students should be able to:
-    Discuss the theories and methods that were presented in class and covered by the readings
-    Design theoretically valid and methodologically rigorous qualitative studies
-    Develop protocols for qualitative data collection
-    Identify and assess data sources and data collection methods for qualitative studies
-    Demonstrate understanding of qualitative data analysis techniques
-    Interpret analytical results from qualitative studies
-    Assess the quality of qualitative studies
-    Articulate in writing a formal description of qualitative research design and analysis

Lecture plan 






Wk 42

15 Oct

Introduction to State-of-the-Art in Qualitative Research Methods (1 hr)

Jan Mouritsen

Reflexive Methodology

Mats Alvesson


16 Oct

Secondary Data Collection (e.g., meeting minutes, news articles, press releases and social media)

Chee-Wee Tan


Wk 46

12 Nov

Interpretive research: Narrative interviews and narrative methods

Anna Linda Musacchio Adorisso


13 Nov

Discourse and Thematic Analysis – part 1 : Coding, recursive abstraction

* Ex 1 Data collection  is due

Torkil Clemmensen


Wk 49


3 Dec

Action Research, Ethnography and Fieldwork

Dorte Lønsmann


4 Dec

Discourse and Thematic Analysis – Part 2:  abstraction and communication of findings

‡Project Presentation

* 2 Thematic analysis is due

Torkil Clemmensen


*All sessions are 9:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00 unless noted otherwise.


Block 1

15 Oct 2015

Introduction to State-of-the-Art in Qualitative Research Methods - Jan Mouritsen (9:00-10:00)


Reflexive Methodology* – Mats Alvesson

The session introduces the concept of reflexivity, addresses various meanings and a framework for doing research in a more reflexive way, with an awareness of alternative ways of constructing and interpreting phenomena. Through the systematic considering of various meta-positions, researchers can avoided the problem of reproducing established paradigms and frameworks and increase the chance of imaginative and novel studies. The session also addresses two specific methodologies supporting researchers working consciously and systematically with reflexive frameworks: a) identifying, articulating and challenging dominant, implicit assumptions in a field and b) working with the discovery/construction and solving of mysteries in empirical studies.

*10:00 – 12:00 Public lecture followed by a seminar with the students after lunch



Alvesson, M. & Sköldberg, K. (2009).  Reflexive Methodology, Sage.

Alvesson, M. &: Kärreman, D. (2007). Creating mystery: empirical matters in theory development. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1265-1281.

Alvesson, M. & Sandberg, J. (2011). Generating research questions through problematization. Academy of Management Review, 37(2), 247-271



16 October 2015

Secondary Data Collection & Analysis - Chee-Wee Tan (9:00 - 16:00)

This section introduces opportunities and challenges in the collection and analysis of secondary sources of qualitative data. Specifically, we will not only examine how contemporary trends (e.g., open big data and social media) have given rise to rich digital archives of qualitative data in the likes of Qualidata and Wikis, but we will also touch on how such archival records can be extracted and reuse for research purposes. In addition, we will explore the pros and cons of harnessing archived qualitative data. We will revisit theoretical, epistemological and practical arguments for and against the reuse of archived qualitative data.


Andrews, L., Higgins, A., Andrews, M., & Lalor, J. (2012). Classic grounded theory to analyse secondary data: reality and reflections. The Grounded Theory Review11(1), 12-26.

Gillies, V., & Edwards, R. (2005, January). Secondary analysis in exploring family and social change: Addressing the issue of context. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 6, No. 1).

Glaser, B. G. (1963). Retreading research materials: The use of secondary analysis by the independent researcher. American Behavioral Scientist6(10), 11-14.

Fielding, N. (2004). Getting the most from archived qualitative data: Epistemological, practical and professional obstacles. International Journal of Social Research Methodology7(1), 97-104.

Kane, G. C., & Fichman, R. G. (2009). The shoemaker's children: Using Wikis for information systems teaching, research, and publication. MIS Quarterly, 33(1), 1-17.

Moore, N. (2006). The contexts of context: Broadening perspectives in the (re)use of qualitative data. Methodological Innovations Online1(2), 21-32.

Optional Readings:

Eaton, B., Elaluf-Calderwood, S., Sørensen, C., & Yoo, Y. (2015). Distributed tuning of boundary resources: The case of Apple’s iOS service system. MIS Quarterly39(1), 217-243.

Lim, E. T., Tan, C. W., Cyr, D., Pan, S. L., & Xiao, B. (2012). Advancing public trust relationships in electronic government: the Singapore e-filing journey. Information Systems Research23(4), 1110-1130.



Block 2


12 November 2015                   

Interpretive research: Narrative interviews and narrative methods - Anna Linda Musacchio Adorisso

The session introduces interpretive narrative research and addresses narrative as a way to investigate how actors involved in business practices create meaning. It deals with the actors´ subjective experience of business practices and the contingent historical and social contexts in which they are generated. On a methodological level, collecting and analyzing stories could imply different research designs and methods, which can range from ethnographic research methods for spontaneous stories, textual analysis for already produced stories or interviews methods for eliciting stories with interviewees. The seminar will provide participants with both a broad orientation to the theoretical and practical issues involved in the use of narrative approaches and an opportunity to apply these approaches to their own research using smaller breakout groups and discussions. The course provides an invitation for students to discuss their own research from various narrative and antenarrative perspectives and an opportunity to gain hands-on experience on the craft of doing narrative research.


Boje, D.M. (1991). The storytelling organization: a study of story performance in an office supply firm. Administrative Science Quarterly, 36 (1), 106-126.
Boje, D.M. (1995). Stories of the Storytelling Organization: A postmodern Analysis of Disney as Tamara-Land. Academy of Management Journal, 38 (4), 997-1035.
Boje, D.M. (2001). Narrative Methods for Organizational and Communication Research. London:  Sage. (introduction)
Gabriel, Y. (1991). Turning facts into stories and stories into facts: an Hermeneutic Exploration of Organizational Folklore, Human Relations, 44 (8), 857-875.
Gertsen, M.C.; Søderberg, A.-M. (2011) Intercultural Collaboration Stories. On Narrative inquiry and Analysis as Tools for Research in International Business. Journal of International Business Studies, 42 (6), 765-786.
Haley, U. Boje, D. (2014) Storytelling and the Internationalization of the multinational enterprise. Journal of International Business Studies, 45, 1115-1132
Musacchio Adorisio, A.L. (2009) Storytelling in Organizations. London: Palgrave. (chapter 1-2-3-4)
Musacchio Adorisio, A.L. (2014) Organizational remembering as narrative: Storying the past in banking. Organization, 21 (4), 463-476.
Søderberg, A. -M. (2014). Narrative Interviewing and Narrative Analysis in a Study of a Cross-border Merger. In Bell, E. &Willmott, H. (Eds.) Qualitative Research in Business and Management. Volume1: Classical and Contemporary Studies. Sage 2014, pp. 401-420.
Vaara, E. Tienari, J. (2011) On the Narrative Construction of Multinational Corporations: An Antenarrative Analysis of Legitimation and Resistance in a Cross-Border Merger. Organization Science, 22 (2), 370-390.



13 November 2015

Discourse and Thematic Analysis  – part 1 : Coding, recursive abstraction - Torkil Clemmensen

Discourse and Thematic Analysis part 1 and part 2 enables the participants to understand and apply digital tools to plan, carry out and report the qualitative parts of different research designs. The course offers participants experience with contemporary qualitative and mixed research designs, which often make use of both quantitative and qualitative data. Examples include experiments (verbal protocols), surveys (open questions), qualitative research interviews, literature reviews (qualitative content analysis), observational studies (video analysis) and more.  This will help facilitate the participant’s qualitative data analysis by presenting and discussing some of the questions that researchers ask other researchers when they look for help and advice in how to plan and execute their qualitative data analysis, including technical issues of how to format data for analysis, and philosophical discussions of the meaning of reliability and validity in the context of qualitative data analysis.
Part 1 offers participants practical experience in analyzing qualitative data from a research project in a multidisciplinary context. Best cases and worst cases of digital qualitative analysis will be presented. Participants are expected to be willing to use data from their own research to analyze. Depending on the level of experience with digital analysis of qualitative data among the participants, different kind of qualitative analysis software will be demonstrated.

Critical Class Prerequisites:
1)    Bring your own computer to class
2)    Download and familiarize yourself through online tutorials and self-experimentation with at least three different software applications for qualitative analysis. Atlas.ti, Nvivo and Maxqda have downloadable demo versions from their respective websites. A full package of Nvivo is available for free via the CBS software library. Consider also other software that is suitable for qualitative data analysis, e.g., MS Excel, Word, or Onenote. Please bear in mind that there will be no traditional demonstrations of any software during the course, however there will be abundant opportunities for hands-on experience connected with reflection in class. Therefore, you are required to familiarize yourself as much as you can with different kind of software application for qualitative analysis prior to the class.  
3)    Bring your own data. This can be 3-4 transcripts of interviews, field notes, online pictures, audio, or anything else that you want to analyze. You will be asked to enter your data in the qualitative analysis software of your choice, and work with this during part 1 and 2.


Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design - qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches. London: SAGE. (in particular chapter 1 and chapter 11)

Richards, T., & Richards, L. (1992). Database organization for qualitative-analysis - the nudist(tm) system. Lecture Notes In Artificial Intelligence, 611, 116-133

Thomas Muhr, (1991). ATLAS/ti - A Prototype for the Support of Text Interpretation, Qualitative Sociology,  14(4).

King, N., (2012). Doing template analysis. In: Symon, G, and Cassell, C. (eds.). Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and Current Challenges: 426-450. Sage, London.

Clemmensen, T. (2015). Notes on Digital Qualitative Analysis (unpublished).



Block 3


3 December 2015

Ethnography and Fieldwork  -Dorte Lønsmann

TThis session introduces students to ethnographic methodology as well as to specific issues and topics related to the process of data collection. After introducing the basic principles and practices of ethnography, the session focuses on the process of planning fieldwork, including considerations related to consent and confidentiality, and to the difficulties of gaining access to organizations to do fieldwork. The session also addresses the topic of researcher positionality in ethnographic fieldwork. The second part of the day introduces students to the key ethnographic method of data collection: participant observation, and closes with an introduction to methods of recording naturally occurring interactions. Students will have the opportunity to work with the planning of their own fieldwork.


Blommaert, Jan & Jie Dong. (2010). Ethnographic Fieldwork. A Beginner’s Guide. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Neyland, Daniel. (2008). Ethnographic strategy. Organizational Ethnography. London: Sage, pp. 26-40 and 99-110.
Lønsmann, Dorte. Forthcoming. Negotiating positionality in ethnographic investigations of workplace settings:  student, consultant or confidante? In Glen Alessi and Geert Jacobs (eds.). The Theory and Process of Professional Discourse Research. Palgrave Macmillan.


4 December 2015

Discourse and Thematic Analysis-Part 2: Abstraction and Communication of Findings-Torkil Clemmensen

Discourse and Thematic Analysis part 2 raises participants’ awareness of the quality of qualitative data analysis, such as the transparency of the research design, and the adherence to established rules for presenting qualitative data.
Part 2 offers participants practical experience in presenting qualitative data from a research project in a multidisciplinary context. Best cases and worst cases of digital qualitative analysis will be presented. Participants are expected to be willing to use data from their own research to present. In addition, we will have a “write notes for your method section” exercise.



Dahler-Larsen, P. (2008). Displaying Qualitative Data. University Press of Southern Denmark, 2008. 170 pages.

Clemmensen, T. (2015). Notes on Digital Qualitative Analysis (unpublished).


Course literature 

Mandatory Readings:
See reading list in course plan. Please plan ahead and obtain the reading materials, especially the books, ahead of time. Check in Learn for further information.  Additional articles and resources may be provided on a need-to basis.

Alvesson, M. & Sköldberg, K. (2009).  Reflexive Methodology, Sage.
Blommaert, Jan & Jie Dong. (2010). Ethnographic Fieldwork. A Beginner’s Guide. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Dahler-Larsen, P. (2008). Displaying Qualitative Data. University Press of Southern Denmark.
Musacchio Adorisio, A.L. (2009) Storytelling in Organizations. London: Palgrave.

PhD School 
PhD School in Language, Law, Informatics, Operations Management, Accounting and Culture
Enroll no later than 
Lørdag, 10 oktober, 2015 (All day)