Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series
Edited by Keith Townsend, Rebecca Loudoun and David Lewin
Chapter 12: Using qualitative repertory grid interviews to gather shared perspectives in a sequential mixed methods research design
In this chapter, we consider a specific example of applying mixed methods designs combining both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis approaches, giving particular attention to issues including reliability and validity. Human resource management (HRM) researchers, like others setting out to examine a novel or insufficiently defined research topic, frequently favour qualitative approaches to gather data during initial stages, to facilitate an in-depth exploration of individuals’ notions of a subject matter and development of theory (Symon and Cassell, 2012). A variety of qualitative data gathering and analytic methods can be used to such effect, including focus groups followed by thematic analysis of data (for example, Braun and Clarke, 2006) or diary studies (for example, Xanthopoulou et al., 2009). Having made sense of gathered qualitative data, scholars may often decide to examine their chosen topic through further quantitative study, such as a survey. To this end, we consider a specific example of using the repertory grid technique (RGT) (Kelly, 1955, 1963) as the qualitative first stage in a mixed methods design. Whilst the RGT is a popular data gathering technique in management and organisation sciences (MOS) generally and HRM research specifically, utilising it as the first stage of mixed methods research is unusual. In particular, we discuss the application of the RGT for aggregative analysis of data collected from interviewees. Such an approach to analysing RGT data is rare as, typically, the technique is used on its own within an interview study of one or more participants. Yet, it offers considerable utility to examine shared perceptions, as we illustrate from our personal experience of researching individual workplace performance amongst 25 professionals and managers. We begin our chapter by offering an outline of the RGT, which includes a discussion of its validity and caveats as well as its history of use. Subsequently, we provide details of our application of the RGT in the context of wider work performance research. Having further summarised potential challenges and shortcomings, we conclude by a discussion of the method and its usage to elicit shared perceptions within mixed methods research.
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