Table of Contents

Handbook of Research Methods on Intuition

Handbook of Research Methods on Intuition

Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series

Edited by Marta Sinclair

How does one go about studying intuition – a complex, cross-disciplinary field, which is still developing? How can intuition be captured in situ? How can a researcher harness their own intuition? This book uses method-related themes to help answer these questions and explore innovative developments in intuition research.

Chapter 19: Research on intuition using intuition

Viktor Dörfler and Colin Eden

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour, research methods in business and management


About a century ago Henri Bergson (1911, 1946) argued that intuition is a necessary component of philosophical inquiry, and indeed of any enterprise that seeks to understand a complex thought. To us, it therefore makes sense that, in Bergson’s framework, intuition is necessary for researching intuition. Like Bergson, we do not suggest that now we should start using intuition in our research – rather, we suggest that we acknowledge that we have always been using it. Of course, this is an argument with hindsight, based on experiences from our empirical study of Nobel Laureates (NLs). In this research project, underlying the methodological argument presented here, we conducted unstructured interviews with a set of individuals who would be acknowledged as experts by the ‘world at large’: those awarded the highest accolade of the Nobel Prize. We were not explicitly aiming at exploring the intuition of NLs, but more generally their cognitive complexity. From this inquiry, intuition has emerged as a significant characteristic of the NLs’ thinking. It is of particular interest that, although we have not decided ex ante on an intuitive approach, it emerged naturally as we were trying to make sense of the interviews. Based on this inquiry, we seek to revive Bergson’s interest in intuiting, and argue for the renewed importance of intuition as a method in academic research in the field of management and organizations.

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