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Content and Text Analysis Methods for Organizational Research  

Rhonda K. Reger and Paula A. Kincaid

Content analysis is to words (and other unstructured data) as statistics is to numbers (also called structured data)—an umbrella term encompassing a range of analytic techniques. Content analyses range from purely qualitative analyses, often used in grounded theorizing and case-based research to reduce interview data into theoretically meaningful categories, to highly quantitative analyses that use concept dictionaries to convert words and phrases into numerical tables for further quantitative analysis. Common specialized types of qualitative content analysis include methods associated with grounded theorizing, narrative analysis, discourse analysis, rhetorical analysis, semiotic analysis, interpretative phenomenological analysis, and conversation analysis. Major quantitative content analyses include dictionary-based approaches, topic modeling, and natural language processing. Though specific steps for specific types of content analysis vary, a prototypical content analysis requires eight steps beginning with defining coding units and ending with assessing the trustworthiness, reliability, and validity of the overall coding. Furthermore, while most content analysis evaluates textual data, some studies also analyze visual data such as gestures, videos and pictures, and verbal data such as tone. Content analysis has several advantages over other data collection and analysis methods. Content analysis provides a flexible set of tools that are suitable for many research questions where quantitative data are unavailable. Many forms of content analysis provide a replicable methodology to access individual and collective structures and processes. Moreover, content analysis of documents and videos that organizational actors produce in the normal course of their work provides unobtrusive ways to study sociocognitive concepts and processes in context, and thus avoids some of the most serious concerns associated with other commonly used methods. Content analysis requires significant researcher judgment such that inadvertent biasing of results is a common concern. On balance, content analysis is a promising activity for the rigorous exploration of many important but difficult-to-study issues that are not easily studied via other methods. For these reasons, content analysis is burgeoning in business and management research as researchers seek to study complex and subtle phenomena.

Article

Entrepreneurial Teams  

Nicola Breugst

Entrepreneurial teams develop and exploit ideas in order to turn them into entrepreneurial ventures that they jointly own and manage. While these teams are crucial drivers for the success of their ventures, their work can be challenging because they operate under conditions of high autonomy, uncertainty, and interdependence. Thus, it is important to understand how entrepreneurial teams work together and jointly advance their ventures. Research has followed three overarching approaches to explore how entrepreneurial teams can succeed in their endeavors. First, one stream of research has aimed at connecting team inputs, such as team members’ experiences, to firm-level outcomes. In a second stream of research, scholars have focused on what happens within entrepreneurial teams in terms of team processes and emergent states. This approach has identified various mechanisms that translate inputs into outcomes. Third, an increasing number of studies have started to unravel the complexities that entrepreneurial teams experience in their work. Specifically, this research has considered the mutual influence of team members and has explored how teams work on their tasks and are shaped by this work. Despite these advancements, entrepreneurial team research faces numerous challenges arising from the complex interplay of team members and their ventures as well as from access to high-quality data. Because of these and other challenges, many research questions around entrepreneurial teams still need to be addressed to better understand their work. These emerging research efforts are likely to be facilitated by additional data sources, such as educational programs devoted to advancing entrepreneurial teams and modern technologies promising better access to rich data. Overall, entrepreneurial team research not only contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the entrepreneurial process but also provides support for these teams as they create and nurture their ventures.

Article

Experience Sampling Methodology  

Joel Koopman and Nikolaos Dimotakis

Experience sampling is a method aimed primarily at examining within-individual covariation of transient phenomena utilizing repeated measures. It can be applied to test nuanced predictions of extant theories and can provide insights that are otherwise difficult to obtain. It does so by examining the phenomena of interest close to where they occur and thus avoiding issues with recall and similar concerns. Data collected through the experience sampling method (ESM) can, alternatively, be utilized to collect highly reliable data to investigate between-individual phenomena. A number of decisions need to be made when designing an ESM study. Study duration and intensity (that is, total days of measurement and total assessments per day) represent a tradeoff between data richness and participant fatigue that needs to be carefully weighed. Other scheduling options need to be considered, such as triggered versus scheduled surveys. Researchers also need to be aware of the generally high potential cost of this approach, as well as the monetary and nonmonetary resources required. The intensity of this method also requires special consideration of the sample and the context. Proper screening is invaluable; ensuring that participants and their context is applicable and appropriate to the design is an important first step. The next step is ensuring that the surveys are planned in a compatible way to the sample, and that the surveys are designed to appropriately and rigorously collect data that can be used to accomplish the aims of the study at hand. Furthermore, ESM data typically requires proper consideration in regards to how the data will be analyzed and how results will be interpreted. Proper attention to analytic approaches (typically multilevel) is required. Finally, when interpreting results from ESM data, one must not forget that these effects typically represent processes that occur continuously across individuals’ working lives—effect sizes thus need to be considered with this in mind.

Article

Intersectionality Theory and Practice  

Doyin Atewologun

Intersectionality is a critical framework that provides us with the mindset and language for examining interconnections and interdependencies between social categories and systems. Intersectionality is relevant for researchers and for practitioners because it enhances analytical sophistication and offers theoretical explanations of the ways in which heterogeneous members of specific groups (such as women) might experience the workplace differently depending on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or class and other social locations. Sensitivity to such differences enhances insight into issues of social justice and inequality in organizations and other institutions, thus maximizing the chance of social change. The concept of intersectional locations emerged from the racialized experiences of minority ethnic women in the United States. Intersectional thinking has gained increased prominence in business and management studies, particularly in critical organization studies. A predominant focus in this field is on individual subjectivities at intersectional locations (such as examining the occupational identities of minority ethnic women). This emphasis on individuals’ experiences and within-group differences has been described variously as “content specialization” or an “intracategorical approach.” An alternate focus in business and management studies is on highlighting systematic dynamics of power. This encompasses a focus on “systemic intersectionality” and an “intercategorical approach.” Here, scholars examine multiple between-group differences, charting shifting configurations of inequality along various dimensions. As a critical theory, intersectionality conceptualizes knowledge as situated, contextual, relational, and reflective of political and economic power. Intersectionality tends to be associated with qualitative research methods due to the central role of giving voice, elicited through focus groups, narrative interviews, action research, and observations. Intersectionality is also utilized as a methodological tool for conducting qualitative research, such as by researchers adopting an intersectional reflexivity mindset. Intersectionality is also increasingly associated with quantitative and statistical methods, which contribute to intersectionality by helping us understand and interpret the individual, combined (additive or multiplicative) effects of various categories (privileged and disadvantaged) in a given context. Future considerations for intersectionality theory and practice include managing its broad applicability while attending to its sociopolitical and emancipatory aims, and theoretically advancing understanding of the simultaneous forces of privilege and penalty in the workplace.

Article

Longitudinal Designs for Organizational Research  

James M. Diefendorff, Faith Lee, and Daniel Hynes

Longitudinal research involves collecting data from the same entities on two or more occasions. Almost all organizational theories outline a longitudinal process in which one or more variables cause a subsequent change in other variables. However, the majority of empirical studies rely on research designs that do not allow for the proper assessment of change over time or the isolation of causal effects. Longitudinal research begins with longitudinal theorizing. With this in mind, a variety of time-based theoretical concepts are helpful for conceptualizing how a variable is expected to change. This includes when variables are expected to change, the form or shape of the change, and how big the change is expected to be. To aid in the development of causal hypotheses, researchers should consider the history of the independent and dependent variables (i.e., how they may have been changing before the causal effect is examined), the causal lag between the variables (i.e., how long it takes for the dependent variable to start changing as a result of the independent variable), as well as the permanence, magnitude, and rate of the hypothesized change in the dependent variable. After hypotheses have been formulated, researchers can choose among various research designs, including experimental, concurrent or lagged correlational, or time series. Experimental designs are best suited for inferring causality, while time series designs are best suited for capturing the specific timing and form of change. Lagged correlation designs are useful for examining the direction and magnitude of change in a variable between measurements. Concurrent correlational designs are the weakest for inferring change or causality. Theory should dictate the choice of design, and designs can be modified and/or combined as needed to address the research question(s) at hand. Next, researchers should pay attention to their sample selection, the operationalization of constructs, and the frequency and timing of measures. The selected sample must be expected to experience the theorized change, and measures should be gathered as often as is necessary to represent the theorized change process (i.e., when the change occurs, how long it takes to unfold, and how long it lasts). Experimental manipulations should be strong enough to produce theorized effects and measured variables should be sensitive enough to capture meaningful differences between individuals and also within individuals over time. Finally, the analytic approach should be chosen based on the research design and hypotheses. Analyses can range from t-test and analysis of variance for experimental designs, to correlation and regression for lagged and concurrent designs, to a variety of advanced analyses for time series designs, including latent growth curve modeling, coupled latent growth curve modeling, cross-lagged modeling, and latent change score modeling. A point worth noting is that researchers sometimes label research designs by the statistical analysis commonly paired with the design. However, data generated from a particular design can often be analyzed using a variety of statistical procedures, so it is important to clearly distinguish the research design from the analytic approach.

Article

Mediation: Causal Mechanisms in Business and Management  

Patrick J. Rosopa, Phoebe Xoxakos, and Coleton King

Mediation refers to causation. Tests for mediation are common in business, management, and related fields. In the simplest mediation model, a researcher asserts that a treatment causes a mediator and that the mediator causes an outcome. For example, a practitioner might examine whether diversity training increases awareness of stereotypes, which, in turn, improves inclusive climate perceptions. Because mediation inferences are causal inferences, it is important to demonstrate that the cause actually precedes the effect, the cause and effect covary, and rival explanations for the causal effect can be ruled out. Although various experimental designs for testing mediation hypotheses are available, single randomized experiments and two randomized experiments provide the strongest evidence for inferring mediation compared with nonexperimental designs, where selection bias and a multitude of confounding variables can make causal interpretations difficult. In addition to experimental designs, traditional statistical approaches for testing mediation include causal steps, difference in coefficients, and product of coefficients. Of the traditional approaches, the causal steps method tends to have low statistical power; the product of coefficients method tends to provide adequate power. Bootstrapping can improve the performance of these tests for mediation. The general causal mediation framework offers a modern approach to testing for causal mechanisms. The general causal mediation framework is flexible. The treatment, mediator, and outcome can be categorical or continuous. The general framework not only incorporates experimental designs (e.g., single randomized experiments, two randomized experiments) but also allows for a variety of statistical models and complex functional forms.

Article

Qualitative Designs and Methodologies for Business, Management, and Organizational Research  

Robert P. Gephart and Rohny Saylors

Qualitative research designs provide future-oriented plans for undertaking research. Designs should describe how to effectively address and answer a specific research question using qualitative data and qualitative analysis techniques. Designs connect research objectives to observations, data, methods, interpretations, and research outcomes. Qualitative research designs focus initially on collecting data to provide a naturalistic view of social phenomena and understand the meaning the social world holds from the point of view of social actors in real settings. The outcomes of qualitative research designs are situated narratives of peoples’ activities in real settings, reasoned explanations of behavior, discoveries of new phenomena, and creating and testing of theories. A three-level framework can be used to describe the layers of qualitative research design and conceptualize its multifaceted nature. Note, however, that qualitative research is a flexible and not fixed process, unlike conventional positivist research designs that are unchanged after data collection commences. Flexibility provides qualitative research with the capacity to alter foci during the research process and make new and emerging discoveries. The first or methods layer of the research design process uses social science methods to rigorously describe organizational phenomena and provide evidence that is useful for explaining phenomena and developing theory. Description is done using empirical research methods for data collection including case studies, interviews, participant observation, ethnography, and collection of texts, records, and documents. The second or methodological layer of research design offers three formal logical strategies to analyze data and address research questions: (a) induction to answer descriptive “what” questions; (b) deduction and hypothesis testing to address theory oriented “why” questions; and (c) abduction to understand questions about what, how, and why phenomena occur. The third or social science paradigm layer of research design is formed by broad social science traditions and approaches that reflect distinct theoretical epistemologies—theories of knowledge—and diverse empirical research practices. These perspectives include positivism, interpretive induction, and interpretive abduction (interpretive science). There are also scholarly research perspectives that reflect on and challenge or seek to change management thinking and practice, rather than producing rigorous empirical research or evidence based findings. These perspectives include critical research, postmodern research, and organization development. Three additional issues are important to future qualitative research designs. First, there is renewed interest in the value of covert research undertaken without the informed consent of participants. Second, there is an ongoing discussion of the best style to use for reporting qualitative research. Third, there are new ways to integrate qualitative and quantitative data. These are needed to better address the interplay of qualitative and quantitative phenomena that are both found in everyday discourse, a phenomenon that has been overlooked.

Article

Social Network Analysis in Organizations  

Jessica R. Methot, Nazifa Zaman, and Hanbo Shim

A social network is a set of actors—that is, any discrete entity in a network, such as a person, team, organization, place, or collective social unit—and the ties connecting them—that is, some type of relationship, exchange, or interaction between actors that serves as a conduit through which resources such as information, trust, goodwill, advice, and support flow. Social network analysis (SNA) is the use of graph-theoretic and matrix algebraic techniques to study the social structure, interactions, and strategic positions of actors in social networks. As a methodological tool, SNA allows scholars to visualize and analyze webs of ties to pinpoint the composition, content, and structure of organizational networks, as well as to identify their origins and dynamics, and then link these features to actors’ attitudes and behaviors. Social network analysis is a valuable and unique lens for management research; there has been a marked shift toward the use of social network analysis to understand a host of organizational phenomena. To this end, organizational network analysis (ONA) is centered on how employees, groups, and organizations are connected and how these connections provide a quantifiable return on human capital investments. Although criticisms have traditionally been leveled against social network analysis, the foundations of network science have a rich history, and ONA has evolved into a well-established paradigm and a modern-day trend in management research and practice.