During this week’s lectures, we took a closer look at the implications of qualitative research. Gathering data for market research is usually done through two different methods: qualitative and quantitative research. Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus describes qualitative research as research that is relating to how good something is, or relating to the quality of something. There are many types of qualitative research that can be done in order to gather information about a topic or field of study. Example include: ethnography, interview, focus groups, marketing research online communities, and so on.
Depending on the type of qualitative research, there are different implications of qualitative research. Why using ethnography as a qualitative research tool, we try to get a deeper understanding of the consumer and consumer behavior. Ethnography is particularly effective when studying trends, personal habits, lifestyle factors, and the effect of social/cultural context on behavior. Therefore, we use ethnography in product categories that are visibly consumed over time and in space and are rich in socio-cultural meaning. The one-on-one interview is another example discussed during the lectures. This type of qualitative research is great to understand consumers’ decision making, details on how products are used or to take a closer look at the emotional and private aspects of consumers’ lives (Mcquarrie, 2015).
In a research article form the Journal of International Business Studies, Yves Doz examines qualitative research for international businesses. The article shows a couple different implications of qualitative research in the field of international business. First, Doz (2011), recognizes that by providing rich, thick descriptions of real phenomena and action instances simulate deeper thoughts that provide a safeguard against the “seeing what you are already believing” risk of semi-structured empirical research and allow richer and stronger conceptualization.
Another implication is that it allows someone to bring a variety of theoretical lenses to bear on the phenomenon being investigated and to compare systematically the nature and extent of the insights provided by these various theories. By using theory testing, it is possible to compare the prediction a theory would make about a phenomenon to the observed instance and to extend and/or challenge the validity of the theory. In relation to theory testing, another use of qualitative research could also help to communicate it by showing its applicability. By using conceptual coherence and hold in its logical structure, qualitative illustration could make communication easier.
Next, Doz (2011) points out that qualitative research may also be essential for surfacing contextual dimensions in international business. In this case, qualitative research in a new context is a way to learn about that context up close, rather than risk assuming away contextual differences. Creating theories that recognize context and qualitative case-based research can contribute to the contextualization of general theories.
Finally, qualitative research may also enable your research to discover the importance of a previously neglected phenomenon or the relevance of a particular theoretical perspective to that phenomenon. It could result into strong inspiration for new ideas and research topics. In a field like international business, qualitative exploratory research may help identify and understand new phenomena as they come forward and help decide if it is interesting researching these.
Doz (2011) concludes his section on implications of qualitative research in international business by stating that although there is no right answer to the question if qualitative research is worth the risk and the effort, it contributes to the development of a field of management research in multiple ways and definitely could contribute more to international business that it has done in the past.
More information about qualitative research for international business can be found in Doz’ article on jstor.org.