The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods provides perspectives on topics relevant to research in the field of business and management
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Journal Article

The Research Audit Trial — Enhancing Trustworthiness in Qualitative Inquiry  pp11-24

Marian Carcary

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Positivist and interpretivist researchers have different views on how their research outcomes may be evaluated. The issues of validity, reliability and generalisability, used in evaluating positivist studies, are regarded of relatively little significance by many qualitative researchers for judging the merits of their interpretive investigations. In confirming the research, those three canons need at least to be re‑conceptualised in order to reflect the keys issues of concern for interpretivists. Some interpretivists address alternative issues such as credibility, dependability and transferability when determining the trustworthiness of their qualitative investigations. A strategy proposed by several authors for establishing the trustworthiness of the qualitative inquiry is the development of a research audit trail. The audit trail enables readers to trace through a researcher's logic and determine whether the study's findings may be relied upon as a platform for further enquiry. While recommended in theory, this strategy is rarely implemented in practice. This paper examines the role of the research audit trail in improving the trustworthiness of qualitative research. Further, it documents the development of an audit trail for an empirical qualitative research study that centred on an interpretive evaluation of a new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) student administrative system in the tertiary education sector in the Republic of Ireland. This research study examined the impact of system introduction across five Institutes of Technology (IoTs) through case study research that incorporated multiple evidence sources. The evidence collected was analysed using a grounded theory method, which was supported by qualitative data analysis software. The key concepts and categories that emerged from this process were synthesized into a cross case primary narrative; through reflection the primary narrative was reduced to a higher order narrative that presented the principle findings or key research themes. From this higher order narrative a theoretical conjecture was distilled. Both a physical and intellectual audit trail for this study are presented in this paper. The physical audit trail documents all keys stages of a research study and reflects the key research methodology decisions. The intellectual audit trail, on the other hand, outlines how a researcher's thinking evolved throughout all phases of the study. Hence, these audit trails make transparent the key decisions taken throughout the research process. The paper concludes by discussing the value of this audit trail process in confirming a qualitative study's findings.


Keywords: interpretivist paradigm, qualitative research, research audit trail, research confirmability, trustworthiness, transferability, information technology, higher education


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Journal Article

What Can We Learn from Gender Research  pp1-9

Eileen Trauth

© Jan 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECRM 2010 Special issue Part 2/Jan 2011, Editor: Ann Brown, David Douglas, Marian Carcary and Jose Esteves, pp1 - 87

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This paper considers issues, insights and lessons about conducting research in business that are drawn from this author’s experiences with gender research in the information technology (IT) field over the past decade. A research program on gender and information technology (IT) is used as the basis for consideration of methodological insights for business research. The purpose in discussing gender research is not so much to focus on the findings of this work. Rather, the purpose is to focus on research issues that have or could arise, the learning from which is transferrable to business research. The reason is that there are similarities between gender research and business research. Both are action oriented in that the research is driven by real issues and practical problems. The research is conducted into the phenomenon in order to inform actions and interventions. This problem‑orientation that drives business research also drives gender and IT research. Seven lessons relevant to business research methods are: the effect of data type, the choice of epistemology, the role of theory, building on disparate literature, the influence of researcher standpoint, stakeholder perspective that is privileged, and resolving the rigor vs. relevance conundrum. This review of insights for business research that is drawn from experiences with conducting research on gender and IT makes a case for increased methodological pluralism. Arguably, the degree to which institutions and publication outlets take these issues into account is indicative of their openness to exploring emergent topics. Methodological conservatism might be in order in some areas. But business research, which endeavors to respond to real world problems, needs to have the methodological tools available to respond to them. It must also be responsive to business trends and issues that might bring with them challenges for current methods for conducting research. New economic constraints, issues such as climate change that blur business area boundaries, globalization, social inclusion and innovation are 21st century issues that will encourage the research community to overcome resistance to different ideas, methodologies, epistemologies and theories.


Keywords: critical theory, diversity, epistemology, feminism, gender differences, gender and IT, individual differences theory of gender and information technology, interpretive research, research methods, social inclusion, theory, women and IT workforce


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Journal Issue

Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009 / Dec 2009  pp1‑116

Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina

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The 8th European Conference on Research Methods in Business and Management attracted a wide range of papers. The conference fell naturally into four main themes: introducing relatively new techniques, in depth description of application of accepted research methods, overview of the whole research process and attempts to deal with intractable problems. The final selection of papers was agreed both the editor of the Journal and the editors of the conference proceedings, Joseph Azzopardi and Frank Bezzina. The comments of session chairs were taken into account in making the final selection of papers for this issue of the EJBRM.

The quality of the papers was particularly high and the selection of those papers for the Journal presented a difficult choice. The papers selected were chosen for their quality of writing, their relevance to the Journal’s objective of publishing papers that offer new insights or practical help in the application of research methods in business research and to represent the four major themes of the conference.

The papers dealt with the problems facing management researchers in a variety of ways. The papers proposed a number on new and unusual methods, including Psychogeography ( Knowles) and webometrics (Romero‑Frias). Both of these papers focused on explaining the technique and its appropriateness to business research. Techniques dealt with in previous issues were also well represented including mixed methods (Ryan); Grounded Theory (Noel & Kamyangale); REP Grid (Klaus). Several papers offered some valuable insights into key steps of the research process including audit trail (Carcary) and data collection problems and interpretation ( Iacono, Brown and Holtham; Rasmussen, and Heiko; Heiro and Reetta). The paper by Brooke and Parker introduced a new dimension (spirituality) to the philosophy of business research. One paper offered an intriguing review of leadership research (Mortimer).


Keywords: brand identity, brand personality, business intelligence, business management, business survey, critical management, essential self, fact-based, feminist research methods, focus groups, Foucault, grounded theory, health care professionals, higher education, information systems, information technology, internet studies, interpretivist paradigm, interview, leadership theory, London, longitudinal case work, luxury brand, meaning and work, methodology, multicultural data collection, nonresponse, organisations, organisations audit trail, organizational culture, participant observation, philosophy, Protestant Ethic, psychogeography, qualitative data, qualitative online research, qualitative research, qualitative research methods, regional development, religion, Repertory Grid Method, research confirmability, trustworthiness, research design, research methods , research strategies, safety in the field, self-selection, SMEs, spirituality, steel trading case, transferability, Web 2.0, Web minin


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