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Journal Article

Research Methods — a Case Example of Participant Observation  pp39-46

Jessica Iacono, Ann Brown, Clive Holtham

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

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Abstract

This paper discusses the role of the researcher as a participant observer and reflective practitioner. The paper aims to assess the benefits and limitations of participant observation, and offer guidance as to how to manage the challenges inherent in this technique. The paper draws on the lead author's experience as a participant observer when working on her doctoral thesis: 'Factors Affecting the Viability of Electronic Marketplaces: an Empirical Investigation into International Steel Trading'. It discusses the issues and concerns resulting from participant observation and how these were dealt with in the case example. The empirical research was a longitudinal study tracking the evolution of steel electronic commerce between December 1998 and the present time. The events examined in this study were observed during the lead author's ten years at a large steel producertrading house. As a trader and a manager, the lead author was directly involved in the conduct of business. The study represents the contribution of an industry practitioner and, as such, provides a unique insight into a real‑world setting.

 

Keywords: participant observation, qualitative research methods, qualitative data, longitudinal case work, steel trading case

 

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Journal Issue

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

Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina

View Contents Download PDF (free)

Editorial

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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