+1 (208) 254-6996 [email protected]

Please make sure that you follow the professor instruction and Please read the study guide. Please watch out for spelling errors and grammar errors. Please use the APA 7th edition format. This is a DBA course and needs to be done on this level. Please don’t copy and paste off of someone else work or article.

Book Reference: Gray, D. E. (2020). Doing research in the business world (2nd ed.). SAGE. https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781529700527 

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In this unit, you learned about theoretical/conceptual framework. For the assignment, you will apply what you have learned to continue the work on the research that you started in Unit III. To do this, you will complete the theory log for four theories in your field of research. Utilize the  Theory Log template for this assignment. When you have filled out the theory log, upload it to Blackboard. You must use at least four academic resources for this assignment, but you may use more as needed. Adhere to APA Style when creating citations and references for this assignment.


The following resource(s) may help you with this assignment.

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit V Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

4. Assess theoretical research methodologies in contemporary business scholarship. 4.1 Discriminate theory and the theoretical framework from the conceptual framework. 4.2 Construct a research framework.

7. Implement a critical thinking process for business research methodology.

7.1 Outline evidence of comprehension about theories in the field.

Course/Unit Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity

4.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 2 Unit V Assignment

4.2 Unit Lesson Chapter 2 Unit V Assignment

7.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 2 Unit V Assignment

Required Unit Resources Chapter 2: Theoretical Perspectives and Research Methodologies in Business Unit Lesson

The Relationship Between the Research Framework, Conceptual Framework, and Theory-Based Knowledge

A framework is a structural frame or foundation that provides a base and support. In a research study, the framework is a theory or group of concepts from several theories that work to explain the phenomena that the researcher is studying. A research framework guides every study, and, as the diagram below illustrates, the theory or conceptual framework is at the center of the study’s design.

UNIT V STUDY GUIDE The Theoretical/Conceptual Framework

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 2


1. Problem a. Identify a real-world problem. b. Describe the undesirable symptoms. c. Identify the knowledge gap that needs to be filled to help solve the problem. d. Support assertions with peer- reviewed references.

2. Purpose Describe the new knowledge and insights the study will produce that will help to fill the gap; concentrate on the “type” of new knowledge.

3. Research questions (RQs) a. Identify the types of questions that need to be answered to fulfill the purpose. b. Develop the main research questions and sub-questions. c. Develop hypotheses, as needed.

9. Conclusions a. Identify the larger application(s) and meaning(s) of the findings. b. Identify how the applications contribute to the knowledge gap. c. Identify the limitations associated with the findings and conclusions.

4. Theoretical framework a. Identify and diagram the key variables in the RQs. b. Identify and diagram the key relationships between variables. c. Identify and diagram the key factors. d. Describe the framework.

5. Review of literature a. Create an outline or “mind map” of the key theories and concepts. b. Use a journal article matrix to dig into the peer-reviewed literature for each theory and concept. c. Create an annotated bibliography. d. Write the review of literature.

8. Data analysis a. Based on the RQs, the overall approach, and the data collected, identify the data analysis methods (be specific) b. Identify the validity and reliability issues and methods to address the issues

7. Data collection a. Develop a measurement plan for the variables in the research questions and hypotheses (e.g., survey, interview guide). b. Develop a data collection plan, including sampling strategy and data collection process.

6. Overall approach a. Identify the level of empirical knowledge (see the review of literature). b. Identify the type of knowledge needed (see purpose statement). c. Identify options, and select an approach d. Describe the approach.

Figure 1. Research framework for every study The theoretical framework is central to all of a study’s steps. Without it, the study has no anchor and the parts cannot stay together. The first part—steps one through three—would not link to steps five through nine without the integral step four, where the researcher creates and describes the framework that supports an understanding of the phenomenon being studied.

Conceptual Framework The doctoral learner’s conceptual framework is based on critical thinking skills. The conceptual framework is the learner’s understanding of the research and writing process involved in conducting and publishing a study, and it involves a detailed understanding of the questions that underpin research design. Answering the questions is crucial to writing the sections of the dissertation because the doctoral learner has determined the following information:

• what the doctoral learner will do in the research; • why the learner wants to do this research; • how the learner will do the research (i.e., methodology and methods that will be used, participants

who will be involved, and how to gather and analyze data); • how the learner will make sense of the data (i.e., what theoretical framework, what software, and

what analytical skills will be used); and • how the learner will report the findings (e.g., dissertation, scholarly publication, seminar paper).

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 3


The conceptual framework is the plan for the research before the doctoral learner undertakes the study. Every doctoral learner develops a conceptual framework about research paradigms, methodologies, methods, and theories as a part of evolving as a graduate-level thinker and writer. Conversations about the conceptual framework take place in courses with the chair of the dissertation committee and with the doctoral mentor, but this framework is not something that has to be set out in the dissertation proposal, concept paper, or dissertation. Instead, this very important foundation is what the doctoral learner earns through rigorous study of the field.

Theory A theory also comes from the field; students do not create their own theories. In fact, very few researchers will ever create a theory. As Kivunja (2018) explains, the theory in a field comes from the prevailing ideas, concepts, and themes that explain how and why phenomena occur; the explanation is in the theory. Asher (1984) applies an understanding of theory to the ability to make predictions. Theories focus on different levels of phenomena: micro, meso, and macro (Neuman, 1997).

• Micro-level theories explain relationships among individuals. • Meso-level theories explain interactions among groups at an institutional or organizational level. • Macro-level theories explain relationships at an aggregative level such as “across gender within an

ethnic group” or “students across a state or commonwealth.” The most important role of theory is in providing a common frame of reference for researchers within a field, where the theory describes what is understood to be true or serves as a basis for finding the truth (Jaccard & Jacoby, 2010). Theory lets researchers put a name to the phenomena that they observe and to understand the relationships between variables, including human interactions.

Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework is the element that the doctoral learner creates from existing theories and published research that the doctoral learner encounters during coursework and the review of the literature for the dissertation proposal or the concept paper. A theoretical framework summarizes the concepts and theories that are pertinent to the study, and the doctoral learner must be able to explain how the concepts and theories will serve as a basis for data analysis and the interpretation of the data. Swanson and Swanson (2013) state that the theory of a research study is supported by the theoretical framework. Constructing the theoretical framework is the doctoral learner’s opportunity to study and synthesize the ideas from giant intellects in the field and to become fluent with the concepts of management, business administration, marketing, and so on. The insights that the doctoral learner gleans from a study of the foundational scholars and thinkers become the lens to use in examining and analyzing the data from the research, and the lens will help the doctoral learner to draw conclusions about the study also. A good theoretical framework begins to make its appearance in the review of literature for the study because it is based on the leading theorists’ work. Some theories are older than the ordinarily required “within 5 years” mandate for research, but given that, the theoretical framework in the doctoral study must offer the most relevant and current theoretical understandings in the field. Primarily, the doctoral learner has to explain how the theoretical framework relates to the research questions and how the framework will lend itself to an analysis of the data.

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 4


Drafting the Theoretical Framework Like in all doctoral writing, clarity, conciseness, and correctness are the keys to writing the theoretical framework. Some steps to take in drafting the parts of the theoretical framework are listed below.

• Name the theory or theories you will use to frame your study, explain the existence of the research problem, and interpret the data. Remember that you will use it to perform three functions: 1) frame your study, 2) explain the existence of the research problem, and 3) interpret your study results.

• Lay out the basic tenets of the theory, and support with citations from the original theorists. • Present the concepts from the theory or theories, and explain how the concepts are related to one

another, how the researcher has integrated them, and how they are relevant to the current study. • Support the validity of the theory or theories with empirical evidence from studies that have used this

theory or theories to support research. • Discuss the existence of the research problem within the context of your selected theoretical

framework. Developing an understanding of seminal theories and bringing together the theories and components that best explain the phenomena surrounding the research problem can take time. Many doctoral learners have to review sources from the review of literature and coursework notes as well as dig further into current scholarship as they develop their theoretical framework.

Conclusion Figure 1 illustrates how the theoretical framework is the heart of the research study. The framework supports the existence of the research question or questions because without a theory about how phenomena occur, the researcher would not have any questions to ask about what is happening. The framework guides the researcher’s selection of the variables in a quantitative study and guides the phrasing of the questions for human subjects in a qualitative study; without the theoretical framework, there is not a foundational understanding on which the study’s parts can rest. The development of a theoretical framework is the element that separates observations of the world from publishable research.

References Asher, H. B. (1984). Theory-building and data analysis in the social sciences. University of Tennessee Press. Jaccard, J., & Jacoby, J. (2010). Theory construction and model-building skills: A practical guide for social

scientists. Guilford Press. Kivunja, C. (2018). Distinguishing between theory, theoretical framework, and conceptual framework: A

systematic review of lessons from the field. International Journal of Higher Education, 7(6), 44–53. Neuman, W. L. (1997). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Allyn & Bacon. Swanson, R. A., & Swanson, B. L. (2013). Theory building in applied disciplines. Berrett-Koehler.

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 5


Suggested Unit Resources In order to access the resource below, utilize the CSU Online Library to begin your research. The following eBook discusses different theoretical approaches to research. Read Chapter 1 (“Moving Away From Bad Practices in Research Toward Constructing Useful Theory and Doing Useful Research”), which is linked below, and then browse the table of contents to locate an approach that aligns with one that you understand and could use in a study. Woodside, A. G. (2016). Moving away from bad practices in research toward constructing useful theory and

doing useful research. In Bad to good: Achieving high quality and impact in your research. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. live&scope=site&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_1 https://dx-doi- org.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/10.4135/9781849209540.n10

  • Course Learning Outcomes for Unit V
  • Learning Activity
  • Required Unit Resources
  • Unit Lesson
    • The Relationship Between the Research Framework, Conceptual Framework, and Theory-Based Knowledge
    • Conceptual Framework
    • Theory
    • Theoretical Framework
    • Drafting the Theoretical Framework
    • Conclusion
    • References
  • Suggested Unit Resources

Case Study 16.4 The role of observation in market research

In certain situations, observation is the only way of obtaining information on customer behaviour, especially where the influences on that behaviour are subconscious. A study was undertaken to develop guidelines for the siting of middle-market restaurant outlets in order to maximize the number of potential consumers passing by at lunch-times. The location was three interconnecting streets in a suburb of South London. The study was in two stages. Firstly, an observation of consumer movements around the high street. Secondly, a series of visits to the restaurants as covert observers during the lunch period.

In Phase 1, a range of factors was assessed to see if they had any influence on consumer traffic flows in general and on restaurant usage. These included: the curve of the road, the sunny side of the street, pedestrian crossings, public transport sites, the gradient of the street and the types of shops in the vicinity of the restaurant. Counts of consumer traffic were conducted for 15-minute periods, focusing on strategic areas such as those near pedestrian crossings, the top and the bottom of the hill, near banks with cash withdrawal facilities, etc.

During Phase 2 the restaurants in the study were visited four times at lunch-time and detailed notes taken of customers using classifications such as: types of customer (individuals, couples, families, similar age groups); dining purpose (business, family treat, celebration, romantic one-to-one); style of dress (formal or casual); and mode of transport (walk, taxi, car, bus, etc.). By analysing the types of customer in the restaurant, it was then possible to assess if there was a positive relationship between the type of customer on the streets and the type of customer in the restaurants. In other words, the study was assessing whether the restaurant was situated in the right place.

It was found that, to maximize the flow of potential customers going past the restaurant at lunch-times, the outlet ought to be situated: on a central site rather than at the far end of the high street, on the sunny side of the street, on the inner rather than the outer curve of the street, and near transport links appropriate to the outlet’s key market segments (customers).

Source: Adapted from Boote and Mathews, 1999

Activity 16.5

Examine the observational design in  Case Study 16.4 . Could the data gathering have been done in any other way? How effective would this alternative method have been in terms of the validity of the data? What dangers are there of observer bias in the study and how could they be controlled for?

Suggested answers are provided at the end of the chapter.


· Observation is more than just ‘seeing’; it also involves complex combinations of all the senses and the interpretation of observed events.

· Observation can be overt or covert and involve the active participation of the observer or non-participation.

· One of the challenges of the observational approach is the gathering of data, particularly if the observer is a covert participant.

· Field notes should be as comprehensive as possible and should be taken either as events are observed or as soon as possible afterwards.

· Observational methods will often be triangulated with other research approaches, such as interviews and questionnaires.

· For structured observation, coding schedules will be used based on the principle of either noting events over a period of time or noting when an event occurs.

· Ethical issues arise, particularly where covert observation is being used. Researchers may do well to make use of a code of ethics drawn up by the relevant professional body, if such a code exists.

Review questions

1. To what extent does observation provide a better approach to the study of behaviours than interviews and surveys?

2. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of conducting covert and overt observation.

3. Why should field notes be written up immediately after the field observations?

4. List three advantages of using structured observation. What are the drawbacks, and how can these be accommodated?

5. What is the role of unstructured observation as a precursor to structured observation?

Research Action 16.1: Planning your observations

Think about the following steps to form an overall plan for your structured observational research.

1. Will you be overt or covert in your observations? Write down reasons for your choice.

2. Revisit  Table 16.1  which gives a list of potential data sources. Make a note of the ones you will draw on.

3. Decide how you are going to take field notes. Will you make them as you observe or afterwards, or a combination of the two? How will you take them? Will you use a computer program or simply type them into a tablet computer?

4. Is there any potential for bias? If so, how will you take steps to minimize it?

5. Will you triangulate with other research approaches? Write down which ones might be worth considering and give reasons.

6. Think about ethical implications, especially in covert observation. Is there a relevant code of ethics you could consult?

Your Research Project Checklist


Next Steps In Your Research Project

Push your project forward with a host of resources available to you online:

· Watch videos to build your understanding of important concepts

· Read journal articles to deepen your knowledge and reinforce your learning of key topics

· Discover case study examples that help you to gain insight into real research in the business world

Watch: Naturally occuring data


Read: Online brand construction


Discover: Dynamics of non-participant observation


If you are using the interactive eBook, just click on the icons in the margin to access each resource.

Alternatively, go to:  https://study.sagepub.com/graybusiness2e

Further reading

Bailey, C.A. (2018) A Guide to Qualitative Field Research, 3rd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. Not only is it clearly written, but also this book contains a host of valid and informative examples of practical experiences in the field.

Calvey, D. (2017) Covert Research: The Art, Politics and Ethics of Undercover Fieldwork. London: Sage. Explores the roots of covert research and offers real insight into how to conduct covert research in an ethical way.

Darlington, Y. and Scott, D. (2002) Qualitative Research in Practice: Stories from the Field. Buckingham: Open University Press. Discusses how to avoid deception and how non-participation is difficult to achieve in practice.

Journal resources

Roberts, J.C. (2007) ‘Barroom aggression in Hoboken, New Jersey: Don’t blame the bouncers!’, Journal of Drug Education, 37(4): 429–445. Using structured observation, finds that the absence of doormen and bouncers is a strong predictor of barroom violence.

Thorpe, A.S. (2014) ‘Doing the right thing or doing the thing right: Implications of participant withdrawal’, Organizational Research Methods, 17(3): 255–277. Discusses the implications and the researcher’s response to the withdrawal of participants from a grounded theory study that involved field observation of an experimental community.

Volery, T., Mueller, S. and Siemens, von B. (2015) ‘Entrepreneur ambidexterity: A study of entrepreneur behaviours and competencies in growth-oriented small and medium-sized enterprises’, International Small Business Journal, 23(2): 78–81. Uses structured observation to explore the everyday behaviour of entrepreneurs.

Suggested answers for Activity 16.1

If the observation was overt, then customers might act in ways that might hide or obscure their inability to cope with some aspects of the system.

Suggested answers for Activity 16.5

Certainly, data could have been collected in other ways – for example, through a market research survey of customer attitudes to the siting of the new restaurant. But would the return rate be adequate? Would the responses be honest? With observations, however, one of the dangers is observer bias. One way of controlling for this is through the use of multiple observers, who would each observe independently and then compare both their raw data and analysis.

Don’t forget to click on the icons throughout the chapter to access the supporting resources:


You can also access these digital resources at:  https://study.sagepub.com/graybusiness2e

17 Ethnography and Participant Observation

Chapter outline

· The origins of ethnography

· Guidelines for fieldwork

· Gathering data: participant observation and field notes

· Gathering data: interviewing

· Gathering data: digital media

· Ethical principles in ethnography

· The ethnographic self

· Feminist ethnography

· Critical ethnography

· Sculpting the truth in ethnographic accounts

· Recording the miracle

Keywords https://jigsaw.vitalsource.com/books/9781529700527/epub/OEBPS/images/10.4135_9781529700404-img42.jpg

· Ethnography

· Participant observation

· Fieldwork

· Reflexivity

· Natural settings

· Postmodernism

· Feminist ethnography

· Critical ethnography

· Positionalities

Icon Key

















Author video


Chapter objectives

After reading this chapter you will be able to:

· Describe the origins of ethnography as a data gathering method.

· Distinguish between ethnography and structured observational methods.

· Outline the circumstances when ethnography is the most appropriate approach.

· Plan and conduct ethnographic fieldwork, selecting the field, gaining access, building rapport and getting out.

· Conduct ethnographic research ethically.

· Handle identity and know when and how to weave ‘the self’ into ethnographic accounts.

· Write an ethnographic account that is authentic and credible.

Watch: What is ethnography?


Ethnography is a qualitative research method that seeks to understand cultural phenomena that reflect the knowledge and meanings that guide the life of cultural groups within their own environment. While the origins of ethnography lie in the socio-cultural anthropology of the nineteenth century, it is now widely used in sociology, communications studies, educational and medical research, and history – subjects where the intention is to study people, ethnic groups and cultures. However, ethnography remains a contested and, in the view of Jordan and Yeomans (1995), an often loosely used term. Hammersley and Atkinson (2007: 1) see ethnography as

… a particular method or sets of methods. In its most characteristic form it involves the ethnographer participating, overtly or covertly, in people’s lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions.

For Willis and Trondman (2000: 5) it is

… a family of methods involving sustained social contact with agents, and richly writing up the encounter, respecting, recording, representing at least partly in its own terms, the irreducibility of human experience.

Ethnographers, then, as participant observers, look at and record people’s way of life and take an emic (folk or inside) and etic (analytic or outside) approach to describing communities and cultures. The research is carried out in natural settings and is sympathetic to those settings. Traditionally those involved in ethnographic research spend long periods of time in the place of study, and are able to produce thick written cultural descriptions that communicate the information found in the field, or, in the words of Fetterman (2010: 1), ‘a credible, rigorous and authentic story’. While in the past, ethnographers may have travelled to distant places to study ‘exotic’ tribes or groups, contemporary ethnography can concern itself with more mundane locations such as shopping malls, libraries, parks, workplaces, households, communities, cities and even information systems and cyberspace.

Ethnographic accounts seek to be both descriptive and interpretive. Description is important because a high level of detail is essential. Interpretation is equally important because the ethnographer must determine the significance of what s/he observes. Ethnographic research typically employs three kinds of data collection methods, namely observation, interviews and documents, often employing all three methods in a single study. These in turn produce three kinds of data: quotations, descriptions and excerpts of documents. The aim of ethnographic research is to produce narrative descriptions that help to tell ‘the story’ (Hammersley, 1990). Ethnographic methods can help in the development of constructs, themes or variables, but ethnography is also used to test theory. Indeed no study, ethnographic or otherwise, can be conducted without recourse to theory whether scholarly or personal (Fetterman, 2010).

Image 17.1 The old and the new – both are legitimate sites for ethnography

https://jigsaw.vitalsource.com/books/9781529700527/epub/OEBPS/images/10.4135_9781529700404-img48.jpg https://jigsaw.vitalsource.com/books/9781529700527/epub/OEBPS/images/10.4135_9781529700404-img48a.jpg

© iStock.com / Osmany Torres Martín

© iStock.com / Michael Könen

One of the key decisions at an early stage is the extent to which the researcher is going to be a participant in the study, which can vary from complete immersion alongside those being observed, or complete detachment (or at least an attempt at detachment) with the role of spectator. Participation helps the researcher to develop an insider’s perspective on what is happening. However, the researcher must also observe what is happening (whilst reflecting on her/his own involvement and biases). The key to ethnographic research, then, is skilfully combining the role of participant and observer.

The origins of ethnography

The origins of ethnography are often attributed to the pioneering fieldwork of Polish anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski. In his seminal work, The Argonauts of the Western Pacific, published in 1914, Malinowski devotes a whole section of the book to explaining the process of gathering data through meticulously documented observations and interviews. He explained that, to have a thorough understanding of a different culture, anthropologists must have daily contact with their informants and become immersed in the culture which they are studying. The goal, then, was to understand the ‘native’s point of view’. To achieve this, not only must the anthropologist collect data, but also there needs to be an emphasis on interpretation. The link between data collection and the writing of ethnographic monographs is meticulous field notes. According to Roldan (2002), Malinowski increased the validity of his ethnography by including in the text fieldwork data, information about the research process and theoretical assumptions.

Read: Ethnography & multinationals


Although its origins lie in the field of anthropology, ethnography was soon taken up by sociologists, a move pioneered by the Chicago School at the University of Chicago in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The primary assumption for the Chicago School was that qualitative methodologies, especially those used in naturalistic observation (such as ethnography), were best suited for the study of urban, social phenomena. It was through the Chicago School that ethnography and symbolic interactionism became closely associated. The phrase ‘symbolic interactionism’ was first coined in 1937 by Blumer (1969), although the approach to social analysis is largely credited to the work of George Hubert Mead during his time at the University of Chicago. Blumer (1969) argued that, in essence, humans act towards things (including fellow humans) according to subjectively attributed meanings which are interpreted reflexively and subjectively. The combination of ethnography and symbolic interactionism led to the writing of several classic texts such as W.F. Whyte’s Street Corner Society (1943) and E. Goffman’s Asylums (1961). Ironically, the teaching of fieldwork methods at the University of Chicago was limited, with ways of organizing ethnographic research being largely acquired ‘on the hoof’ (Shaffir, 1999).

In recent years, ethnography has witnessed great diversification with different approaches being adopted, guided by different epistemological concerns and ethnographic practice, including long-term in-depth studies, through to condensed fieldwork, consultancy work or participation in political struggles (Atkinson and Hammersley, 1994). There has also been a growing application of ethnography beyond anthropology and sociology into applied fields such as education, health and social policy. Sometimes associated with these more applied forms of ethnography have been moves towards collaborative research, stemming not just from a desire for engagement with practice, but also from an epistemological concern that ethnography has privileged the researcher – as the implied Narrator – over the Other, the object of the ethnographer’s gaze. Hence, the accounts produced by researchers are viewed as constructions that reflect the presuppositions and the socio- historical conditions in which they were produced. Under the influence of various forms of antirealism such as constructivism (Guba, 1990) or post-structuralism (Denzin, 1990; Lather, 1991), claims for ethnographic accounts have become more sceptical. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, for example, a postmodern turn in anthropology challenged anthropologists to question their own assumptions and write more reflexively. An example here is auto-ethnography (Reed-Danahay, 1997), which has been encouraged by postmodern theory to draw out the narrative of participant observation and relationships in the field through personal stories (of the researcher) as a reliable mode of expressing findings from the field (Coffey, 1999) and as a credible, adjunct data source (Possick, 2009).

Anderson (1999: 456), however, is sceptical of what he terms the nihilist excesses of the postmodern turn, its hyper-reflexivity, and its ‘clever, self-absorbed and evasive writing’, serving to undermine empirical ethnographic work. He does, though, claim that some of its more positive insights will eventually be absorbed into what he calls analytic ethnography, an empirical approach linked to ethnomethodological traditions. He is also optimistic about the future of ethnography, pointing to the growth of ethnographic research in the 1990s, within a broader range of academic disciplines. Hence, it is possible, for the first time, to talk about educational ethnography, medical ethnography, policy-oriented ethnography and even performance ethnography. Watson (2011) points to the potential that ethnography can play in management studies, investigating ‘how things work’ in organizations. Denzin and Lincoln (1994), however, talk about the flowering of ethnographic ‘moments’ through which US social science has passed or is passing. Anderson (1999), though, sees this less as a succession of movements, but more of a diversification of ethnography. Indeed, ethnography remains a highly complex and contentious discursive field (Atkinson and Hammersley, 1994) at the ‘intersections of communication, culture and identity’ (Berry, 2011: 169).

Guidelines for fieldwork

It is fieldwork that is the most defining characteristic of ethnographic research (Fetterman, 2010). While classic ethnography could involve from six months to two years or more in the field, modern ethnography can involve studies where the researcher visits a site for, say, a two-week period every few months or so during a study lasting two or three years. Fieldwork involves an outsider angling for insider knowledge. Hence, fieldworkers ride the lines between and across multiple boundaries, with the result that the journey can be emotionally uncomfortable or in the words of Irwin (2006: 160) ‘exceedingly edgy’. Doing fieldwork involves a number of stages including deciding what field or context in which to conduct the research, getting access and gaining acceptance within the field, conducting the fieldwork itself and leaving the field (getting out) in as ethical and acceptable a way as possible.

Top Tip 17.1

If ethnographic studies can involve immersion in the field for long periods, even several years, you need to think carefully before you embark on this type of research. It might be appropriate, say, for someone undertaking research as part of their employment, or as part of a doctorate. Indeed, as we shall see in some of the case studies that follow, some have been implemented as part of a PhD. However, for those studying, say, at Master’s level the long periods required would normally rule out this kind of research undertaking.

Watch: Considering the ethnographic self


Selecting the field

The nature of the setting chosen for the study may be decided before the research problem has been fully resolved. In some studies, however, the collection of ethnographic data may itself help in the definition of the research problem. Data collection and analysis may also lead to the identification of new themes that require different and additional sites for study. Settings contain cases for study but the two are not necessarily synonymous. Hence, cases may be studied in a particular setting, but researchers may have to study aspects of a case across multiple settings (Hammersley and Atkinson, 2007). For example, a study might explore an entrepreneur’s start-up business, but might also want to explore other, more established businesses. How and why cases are chosen (sampled) will be determined by the kinds of criteria discussed in Chapter 9 . So, given the qualitative and intensive nature of most ethnographic research, and the use of only a few sites, sampling design will be mostly based upon typical sites (Schneider, 2006a).

As Hammersley and Atkinson (2007) point out, sampling decisions must also be taken within cases, particularly in relation to time, people and context. For time sampling, it is obvious that the researcher cannot be in the field for 24 hours a day, so some choices have to be made in terms of when to enter the field. In a factory setting, for example, this could be sampling during day shifts, evening shifts and night shifts. Time phases are also an issue. Schneider (2006a) recommends that, for applied ethnographic studies (for example, studies that evaluate projects or programmes), observations should continue through at least one cycle related to the research problem. So, a study of the effects of government funding on agency programmes might observe the impact through a complete budget year. Sampling within a case (for example, a study within an organization) will also involve selecting among people, which could involve ensuring that different categories, based on gender, race, educational qualifications or social class, were all represented in the study. Within a setting, people may act differently according to the context. So, for example, within the setting of a university, students may act differently depending on whether they are attending a lecture, studying in the library or socializing with friends. Sampling design, then, will have to take this into account.

Gaining access

Central to gaining access to a site is the attitude of gatekeepers, who can help or hinder the research depending upon their views as to the validity of the research and its impact on the welfare of people they work with. Pankey-Videla (2012) comments that one of the main challenges confronting ethnographers is how to gain access to a research site, especially gaining informed consent (see next section and Case Study 17.3 ). As Pankey-Videla (2012) points out, most companies do not want to deal with researchers as this takes up precious time. Thus, obtaining permission to study an organization often entails multiple rejections and prolonged negotiations. Duke (2002) supports this view, asserting that gaining access to sites is much easier when personal contacts can smooth the path and where the researcher is known to have some knowledge or experience of the area. Once inside an organization, researchers often feel vulnerable, fearing they might lose hard-fought access. Even once access has been negotiated, further informal gatekeepers also need to be approached before site members will fully participate in a study (Reeves, 2010).

It will certainly be easier to gain entry if the researcher has empathy with those being studied. This does not mean necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with them, but it does mean avoiding the adoption of judgemental attitudes. Patton (2014) suggests that a reciprocity model of gaining entry is valuable, where both researcher and participants come to see mutual advantages emerging from the observational process. This, of course, may be a pious hope. As Hall (2000) points out, especially when working with disadvantaged groups (for example, low-paid immigrant workers), an outsider’s curiosity might be construed as objectionable and patronizing – the first few weeks of fieldwork can sometimes be a miserable experience for the researcher.

The issue of gender may be significant to gaining access. Gurney (2002) comments that being a female researcher in a male-dominated environment may aid not only formal but also informal access as women are regarded as ‘warmer’ and less threatening than men. Hence, gatekeepers may not demand the same level of assurances from women researchers prior to granting formal access. Conversely, women may find entry problematic because of a perceived lack of professionalism or credibility (Gurney, 2002). However, as Mulhall (2003) asserts, an effort can be made to rectify this position by dressing for the occasion, and deferring (within limits) to the authority and cultural expectations of gatekeepers.

Top Tip 17.2

Negotiating access may take longer than you anticipate. As part of your research planning, make sure that you give yourself sufficient ‘lead time’ in setting up your observation.

Gaining informed consent

Informing people in the research setting of what you are doing, and eliciting their consent, is seen as good practice by most researchers. Diener and Crandall (1978) suggest that fully informed consent should include:

· Describing the overall purpose of the research.

· Telling the participants about their role in the study.

· Stating why they have been chosen.

· Explaining the procedures, including the amount of time required.

· Clearly stating the risks and discomforts.

· Stating that the participants may withdraw at any time.

Read: Informed consent


As we saw in Chapter 15 (recall Figure 15.4 ), getting participants to sign a consent form is also prudent. This, of course, implies that covert observation cannot be undertaken. Bailey (2007) argues that achieving a cooperative relationship with a group more than compensates for what is lost through reactivity (between researcher and those being researched). However, the impact of the researcher’s presence and interactions needs to be reflected in field notes and analysis. Note that even after permission has been granted it can be withdrawn at any time and that this must be respected. Of course, there are often circumstances when informed consent is simply impractical. Burgess (1984) notes that in research in public settings (sports events, church services, etc.) access cannot be negotiated with every participant.

Becoming invisible

The researchers may become ‘invisible’ due to the length of time they are involved in the project, by immersing themselves into the norms and behaviours of the group being studied, or simply by hiding the fact that they are researchers. Young researchers, for example, would have greater success in integrating themselves as workers/researchers in a fast food retail outlet than, say, researching the activities of a Chamber of Commerce business club where membership tends to be older. As Berg (2006) points out, however, there are reasons why invisibility is a danger. If, for example, you go ‘undercover’ to research, say, criminal activities within an organization, you need to ensure that you do not become implicated yourself! On the whole, though, invisibility means that participants cease to be consciously aware of the researchers’ presence, and therefore act more naturally.

Building rapport

Rapport is concerned with ‘getting there’ and ‘being there’ and is often associated with themes such as empathy, immersion, participation, friendship, honesty, collaboration, trust and loyalty (Springwood and King, 2001). In the field, researchers seek to develop close interpersonal relationships with key informants based upon mutual respect and shared understandings. Berger (2001), for example, describes how she shared her personal stories with those engaged in her fieldwork studies, generating relationship formation and exchange between them. However, while this may appear simple at a surface level, in practice the achievement of rapport may be challenged where researchers find themselves having to hide their identities, or where their views and values clash with those they are researching. Westmarland (2001), for example, reports on her ethnographic study of the police where she witnessed a number of examples of police violence against an attempted suicide victim, a drug addict and others. As Reeves (2010) notes, while the researcher may be anxious to establish and maintain rapport in order to generate good-quality data, respondents do not have these concerns. Hence, in her study of convicted criminals living in a probation hostel, even though respondents were comfortable with her presence, they continued to tell her half-truths, lies and stories in order to give her an image they wanted to portray. Achieving rapport, then, does not necessarily lead to honest responses.

Handling identity – reflexive positioning

In undertaking participant observation one of the challenges is to maintain a balance between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ status. To gain a deep understanding of people’s lives it is essential that the researcher gets not only physically but also emotionally close to them – but how then does the researcher maintain a professional ‘distance’? Achieving this is often affected by issues such as the gender, race, social class and the education of the researcher compared to that of the people being researched. As one set of researchers put it:

Read: Reflexivity


The more one is like the participants in terms of culture, gender, race, socio-economic class and so on, the more it is assumed that access will be granted, meanings shared, and validity of findings assured. (Merriam et al., 2001: 406)

To remain an ‘outsider’ would be to fail to gain the kind of rapport that is needed to make this method a success. The participant observer, in a sense, needs to be both inside and outside the setting. Indeed, Merriam et al. (2001) argue that the boundaries between the two positions are not simple or clearly delineated. Being inside or outside is relative to a whole host of cultural and social characteristics and is a position that can shift over time. According to Hall (2000), the best the ethnographer can achieve is to negotiate a position in which one is in some way ‘at home’ and considered as ‘one of us’ without becoming completely immersed.

Positioning is a concept used in the analysis of narratives that allows researchers to explore how people make sense of themselves and construct their own identities (Possick, 2009). Using processes such as self-reflection, self-criticism and agency, participants can choose a position among the variety of positions available and/or generate new positions by performing narratives with the audience. One position is that of the autobiographical, an approach that seeks to acknowledge the effects of the researcher’s personal and intellectual biography on all stages of research through the process of reflexivity (Hugill, 2012; Mickelson, 2011). According to Possick (2009), while many researchers engage in reflection, much remains unpublished or separate from the main data analysis. In cases of research on sensitive topics, where there are strong emotional reactions and ethical dangers, this self-censorship is particularly glaring. Possick (2009) urges that autobiographical elements be included in the foreground of research, not the background. This, then, is one aspect of positioning. The personal account includes thoughts and feelings about the informants, the physical elements in the field, relevant autobiographical events and a variety of ‘unstructured musings about the research experience’ (Possick, 2009: 862).

Build: Professional distance


Employability Skill 17.1 Maintaining professional distance

Maintaining a ‘professional distance’ at work can be a challenge, especially when strong friendships develop outside the workplace or you connect with colleagues on social media. Being a participant observer and treading the tightrope between being an ‘insider’ and an ‘outsider’ in ethnographic research can be a similar experience, and an opportunity to prastise this key skill.

Getting out

While ethnographers have written quite extensively on entering a field of study and on developing rapport with participants, less is known about leaving the field (Lofland and Lofland, 1995). When to leave may have been planned early on in the project or it might result from the ‘Things to do’ portion of field notes getting ever smaller, or when fewer insights are emerging. Leaving the field of observation involves both the physical and emotional disengagement of the researcher. This is particularly the case if the observation has been conducted over a lengthy period of time and the researcher has developed empathy and commitment to the inhabitants. Prior to disengagement, the researcher should warn the community of members that this exit is imminent. The withdrawal is probably best handled in a series of stages. Rock (2001) agrees that quitting the field is never easy. Ethnographic research involves ‘emotional enmeshment’ (Possick, 2009: 868). For one thing, the researcher will have invested a considerable portion of themselves cultivating relationships and even friendships but these are now to be shed.

The ethnographer who courted others, who had seemingly limitless time to listen, is now revealed as a person who can no longer be bothered and is in a hurry to be off. (Rock, 2001: 36)

To make matters worse, the ethnographer is off to expose what has been learned to the whole world. No wonder people can feel used. In leaving the field, you might like to consider paying attention to the following elements:

· Make the fact that you will leave the field explicit at the start (that is, your project has a finite length).

· Indicate the date of your leaving several weeks before the event so there are no surprises.

· Remind respondents of your leaving date several days before it arrives.

· Hold a leaving ‘event’ to celebrate the project (but also remind others of your imminent departure).

· Organize emotional support for yourself (see next).

Top Tip 17.3

If undertaking insider participant research (especially if it is covert), consider using either your supervisor or another confidante as an adviser or ‘critical friend’. Use this person to discuss any problems you may be having, particularly in maintaining your sense of detachment and objectivity. You may also want to discuss any issues or incidents that raise ethical considerations.

Case Study 17.1

Ethnography, reciprocity and getting too close?

Ortiz (2004) describes an ethnographic study in which he researched the isolated world of the wives of professional athletes using sequential interviewing, participant observation, personal documents and print media accounts. He travelled thousands of miles across the USA during the process. As a result

I necessarily minimized involvement in other areas of my personal life. As a result, their world was my world for more than three years. (p. 470)

His impression management style was one of ‘muted masculinity’, offered in direct contrast to the hegemonic masculinity so common in the sports world. Hence, he became regarded as a man of a ‘different kind’ by many of the women whose lives were socially isolated. The establishment of reciprocity in his collaborative relationship with the women included babysitting, hanging curtains, running errands, shopping with them and even house-hunting. Over time, this closeness generated data that included secrets, gossip and occupationally relevant information (about their husbands).

Through sequential interviewing, critical topics were constantly emerging, but each new tantalizing piece of information became critical data that he felt he had to follow up with more interviews. Thus he got himself into an endless cycle of compulsive data collection. Even when he terminated a relationship he agreed to keep in touch with the respondent. He discovered, however, that staying in touch served to open up a Pandora’s box of new information. The therapeutic nature of the interview sessions also seemed to act as an added incentive for the wives to stay in touch with the researcher. Hence, although he knew he needed to make an effort to distance himself, ‘constant reminders of the wives and their marriages continued to pull me back into their isolated world’ (Ortiz, 2004: 479). He finally arrived at a point where he began to feel emotionally exhausted and trapped and terminated contact. Although this process left him with feelings of guilt, he concludes that ‘going native’ is not always a mistake, especially if collaborative relationships are mutually beneficial.

Activity 17.1

How does Ortiz (2004) justify his ‘compulsive data collection’? Can/should the researcher be both an ethnographer and an informal therapist? What steps should be taken to maintain ethical boundaries?

The field as a construction

In the previous section we explored fieldwork from a practical perspective, the researcher simply entering the field with an ‘open mind’, similar to Glaser and Strauss’s (1967) notion of fieldwork as a ‘clean slate’ where the researcher is free of prior experience. However, as Funder (2005) warns, this notion ignores the degree to which we are socialized and institutionalized into adopting ways of structuring and labelling the world we explore. For example, talking about the field of environment and development, we talk of sustainable resource management practices and unsustainable, so establishing categories of people who live sustainably or unsustainably.

This framing of the world through our pre-conceived ontologies often takes place through dichotomies: When addressing the environment and development problems, we frequently approach the world as divided into the poor and the wealthy, the rural and the urban, the community and the state, the traditional and modern, the natural and the degraded. Although we may attempt to overcome some such dualisms, they are powerful notions that to a large extent provide our only means of negotiating the world. (Funder, 2005: 2)

This Western pattern of knowledge production now permeates Asian societies as well, where, in some ways, Western science came to structure and to some extent even create Asian societies, through the process of giving names to (classifying) ethnic groups, and by drawing maps (creating national boundaries). In terms of knowledge, ‘modern’ methods of resource management (Western ones) were privileged above ‘traditional’ methods. Funder (2005) describes his ethnographic study of a coastal zone management project in Thailand where he first sought to identify community members to interview, dividing them into ‘participants’ and ‘non-participants’ and subsequently developing new categories of ‘fishermen’ and ‘non-fishermen’, ‘Buddhist’ and ‘Muslim’ households. He reflects that this categorization rested on his own embedded notion of communities as essentially heterogeneous, stratified entities, steeped in struggles over control of natural resources. However, this underlying conflict perspective was one into which he had been socialized through many years of interaction with teachers and peers at his ‘left-leaning’ university. Similarly, Brunt (2001) raises problematically the notion of community. Communities consist of people who consider themselves to be part of the same history or destiny, but this notion is based on symbols and attitudes, not necessarily concrete urban neighbourhoods or villages. Hence, ethnographers should not necessarily go off in search of a physical community. People have multiple identities and may regard themselves as members of multiple communities irrespective of where they work or live.

Gathering data: participant observation and field notes

Participant observation involves not only gaining access to the field and building rapport, but also producing written accounts and descriptions of what was observed. A vital stage in this process is the production of field notes, that is writings that are produced in close proximity to the field. Proximity may mean geographical closeness, but more important is temporal proximity, the fact that field notes are written more or less contemporaneously with the events, experiences and interactions they describe (Emerson et al., 2001). As representations of what they purport to represent, field notes are necessarily selective. The ethnographer writes about what s/he thinks is important, omitting what appears to be less significant. Hence, field notes are never a complete record of what happened (Atkinson, 1992). As Emerson et al. (2001) comment, there are considerable differences between what different ethnographers write about and the role of field notes in their research.



Unit Iii Research Methods

Student Name and Number

Institutional Affiliation

Course Name and Number

Instructor’s Name

Assignment Due Date

Research methodology, methods, and design

There are many challenges that face business organizations, and therefore developing solutions to these problems is paramount. When developing solutions, it is important that the research questions and the hypotheses are comprehensively studied in order to develop the right solutions.

Research methodology

Qualitative study is the best research methodology that can be used to address the research question that has been posed by the study. The reason for selecting this method of study is because the issue surrounding the organization are correlated. Also, all challenges that this organization is facing can be quantified, thus allowing efficient use of quantitative research design. In this case, it is important to ensure that the study determines the correlation between the organization’s problems. This also happens in the relationship between safety management practices and ROI (Creswell et al., 2003).

Research design

In regard to the organization’s concern, a lot of problems facing the organization can be identified as aforementioned. Therefore, it becomes important that any correlation between company challenges and existent conditions are examined. The use of this research design allows decisions to be made in the organization. In this case, this is a business organization that requires an informed decision, thus increasing the chances of the organization to succeed or achieve its goals and objectives. Using factual data makes it possible to make a connection and understand how various entities are related to one another and how they affect the organization’s performance.

Research methods

The most appropriate research methods of this study would be a combination of the correlational method, descriptive statistics, and the comparative method. The combination of these three research methods will enable the person to understand the nature of the problems that the organization is facing as well as how to address those problems. Descriptive statistics plays an important role because it helps an individual understand issues that the organization is facing. On the other hand, the comparative method will enable a person to understand the relationship between ROI and safety management practices.

Data collection methods

There are many ways of collecting data. In this research methodology, the appropriate methods of data collection are surveys, observation, and document analysis. These data collection methods will enable the collection as well as data analysis as far as this study is concerned. A survey can be defined as an act of examining as well as questioning a selected sample in order to obtain the intended data. On the other hand, observation is the use of five senses to gather the information that will be analyzed and later used to make an informed decision. The last form of data collection is document analysis. This is the process of analyzing secondary sources of information such as journals, textbooks, and online information. In other words, the researcher will depend on other people’s research to conduct his or her research (Men et al., 2020).

Sampling design

In order to complete this study, a sample has to be collected within the organization. Mostly, the sample size varies, but it should be at least 15% of the total population of the organization. This is aimed at ensuring the data obtained are generalized to the entire organization. A random sampling design was used to select the sample. Once the sample is selected and data has been obtained, the next step is data analysis, whereby the collected data is sorted in order to be used to make a decision.


Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L., Gutmann, M. L., & Hanson, W. E. (2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori, & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research (pp. 209–240). SAGE.

Men, C., Fong, P. S., Huo, W., Zhong, J., Jia, R., & Luo, J. (2020). Ethical leadership and knowledge hiding: a moderated mediation model of psychological safety and mastery climate. Journal of Business Ethics166(3), 461-472.

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