Advanced Qualitative Research Methodologies: Ethnography, Case Studies, Grounded Theory and Action Research

Prof. René Rohrbeck

Associate Prof. Anne Bøllingtoft, Prof. Jakob Lauring, Prof. René Rohrbeck, Associate Prof. Per Svejvig, Dept. of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University.

Purpose and content
The course aims are to permit participants to acquire in-depth knowledge about the four methodologies, learn about strengths and weaknesses and build competencies to apply and tailor them to their own research projects. A particular emphasis is put on building the ability to design an appropriate methodological approach for a given research problem and the ability to build a consistent and convincing argumentation that justifies the choice and design.

The course Advanced Qualitative Research Methodologies (AQRM) provides an overview of qualitative research strategies, discusses good and bad cases and provides deep insights into four selected qualitative strategies within the social sciences: ethnography, grounded theory, case studies and action research.

The course provides theoretical arguments and rationale for adopting an approach and discusses differentiating characteristics and similarities, the practical advantages and limitations of using these strategies, ethical considerations, as well as what forms of generalization the approaches allow. The course provides the opportunity to practise choosing methodological approaches, arguing for the choice and designing research approaches. Most importantly, the participants gain hands-on experience with applying the course content to their own projects while receiving critical feedback from the faculty and their peers.

Course outline
The course is designed to work with selected qualitative research approaches during five full days. The distinguishing characteristic of this course is that its pedagogy relies heavily on experiential learning, with all lectures aimed at active participant involvement anchored in participants’ own projects and experiences. Furthermore, students will work in groups to practise applying the approaches presented during each of the lectures and the groups will prepare presentations of their arguments to the other participants. The faculty member responsible for each of the lectures will mentor the groups and provide feedback on the presentations and facilitate group discussion regarding challenges experienced by the groups.

  • Day 1: Choosing and designing qualitative research approaches and ethnography
  • Day 2: Grounded theory
  • Day 3: Case studies
  • Day 4: Action research
  • Day 5: Justifying your approach and strategies for ensuring research quality

Literature (to be announced)

Time and place
30 November – 4 December 2015. 

The course will take place at Aarhus University, Department of Management, room: 1325-242.

Teaching language

Participants are required to read the literature prior to the course and prepare for discussing the relevance in relation to their own project.

Students should possess a basic understanding of philosophy of science traditions and research design in organization and management research. 

Max number of students

No later than 9 October 2015 to Lisbeth Widahl, Dept. of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University, Bartholins Allé 10, DK-8000 Aarhus C (preferably by email). Application form can be downloaded from the right-hand side of this web page.
Please note that registration to the course is binding. Applicants from the Department of Management (MGMT) will be given priority over applicants from other departments/universities.

Prior to the course (no later than one week), participants are required to submit a 1-page description of how they intend to benefit from participating in the course. In case participants apply qualitative research methods in their PhD project, they can make a specific description relating to their project. But even if they plan not to apply qualitative research methods, we would like to receive a general description about their intended learning outcomes.

A fee that covers meals during the course will be charged. Students are required to find their own accommodation.

Participants are to submit a 5-page written report, in which they show that they can argue rigorously for their choices at all the various stages of the research. Thus, the paper needs to address a) choice of methodology; b) how they intend to collect data; c) how they intend to sample research units at all levels and stages; d) how they are going to analyse the collected data.

Certificates of completion will be issued only to those successfully completing all requirements of the course (including full attendance and submission of required assignment).

Further information
Please contact René Rohrbeck or Lisbeth Widahl.