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  • Series: Handbooks of Research Methods in Management series x
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Roy Suddaby

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Trish Reay

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Nadine Kammerlander and Alfredo De Massis

Qualitative research is increasing in relevance for management in general and family business research in particular. Family businesses present an especially rich and interesting context to study processes and mechanisms in a qualitative manner. Yet qualitative research comes with many challenges and risks for which no practical guide is at hand. The purpose of this chapter is hence to provide some thoughts and guidelines to avoid common traps and mistakes of qualitative research. To do so, the authors build on their experience as authors, editors and reviewers as well as interviews with renowned qualitative scholars from the management field.

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Evelyn Micelotta, Vern L. Glaser and Gabrielle Dorian

This chapter echoes prior calls for a more pervasive and varied use of qualitative methodologies in family business research. The authors start with an overview of current empirical qualitative work in the family business domain in order to understand the methodological preferences of family business scholars and the methods they have gravitated towards. Having established the key difference between methods and methodologies, and the importance of linking analytical approaches to the building of theory, they discuss three exemplars of qualitative methodologies in the general management literature. The final section of the chapter elaborates on opportunities for deeper engagement with these methodologies in the family business domain and suggestions for enriching the qualitative toolkit of family business research.

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Kimberly D. Elsbach and Ishita Ghai

In this chapter, the authors outline how theorizing in family business research might benefit from combining qualitative case studies with quantitative methods (e.g., surveys, experiments, quantitative field studies) to provide ‘full-cycle’ research. First, they introduce full-cycle research approaches (that typically explain how researchers may move between qualitative theory-building methods and quantitative theory-testing methods) offered by organizational scholars. Next, through an examination of recent qualitative case studies in family business contexts, they identify some of the common questions these studies have answered and not answered. Based on this analysis, they suggest how research that combines qualitative case studies and quantitative methodologies might help family business researchers to more completely theorize phenomena of interest. In this way, they provide a set of exemplars for performing full-cycle research in the family business arena.

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Denise Fletcher and Rocky Adiguna

In parallel with the growing interest in qualitative research methods in family business, many family business scholars advocate the greater use of ethnographic methods to advance the field further. This endorsement rests on at least two arguments. On the one hand, there is a need to widen, extend, or deepen our perspectives to better understand the ‘boundary-crossing’ nature of families in business; on the other hand, the majority of proposals to extend ethnographic research aim to tap into the important yet underexplored complex tacit processes of family firms. However, ethnographic research in family business settings remains rarely published. This chapter reviews a set of family business studies that have used ethnographic methods and have been published in business and management journals in order to examine their orientations, main findings, techniques adopted, and epistemological/ontological stances. Looking forward, the authors end this chapter with a brief discussion on how the practice of ethnography is changing with reference to the visual and virtual applications of ethnographic principles.

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Andrea Colli and Paloma Fernandez Perez

In this chapter, the authors broadly discuss the use of historical analysis and methods in family business studies. They start by providing an overview of how (business) historians have approached the topic of family ownership. In the following section, they discuss the issue of sources and their meaning and role in historical research, discussing also in detail the advantages of what they define as ‘longitudinal’ analysis. The subsequent section discusses the qualitative versus quantitative approaches in business history, while a discussion about some current topics in family business studies that would particularly benefit from a historical approach concludes the chapter.

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Giacomo Laffranchini and Frank Hoy

This chapter extends recent research efforts by mapping the knowledge about family enterprises generated through case study methodology and its evolution over time. Its aim is to point scholars toward relevant knowledge gaps that can be effectively bridged through case study qualitative research. To accomplish this, the authors employed the methodology of science mapping through bibliometric analysis (specifically, co-word analysis and bibliographic coupling) and charted the intellectual structure of the field along with its conceptual building blocks. In an effort to guide future qualitative research efforts, the chapter also discusses the main objectives that case studies have served in the family business research domain, the best practices that scholars should adhere to, and indicates the most receptive outlets for qualitative case-based study. The authors’ analysis of the literature suggests that case studies will continue to be a powerful methodology for theory building and theory extension; nevertheless, only research efforts able to adhere to the highest standard for empirical rigor should be accepted in the field.

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Roseanne J. Foti and Maureen E. McCusker

Although person-centered approaches are not new conceptually or within the field of industrial-organizational psychology, substantive questions remain. Traditionally, leadership researchers have used a variable-oriented approach, where emphasis has been on measuring specific leader or follower attributes (e.g., values, traits, beliefs, perceptions, behaviors) and then examining how these attributes vary in a population of interest, testing for antecedents and behavioral outcomes, as well as moderators and mediators. An emerging trend, however, has been to consider how leadership is experienced, as a whole, from the perspective of individual leaders and/or followers, and whether combinations, patterns, or profiles of attributes – within individuals – have implications for leadership outcomes. Unfortunately, researchers who attempt to conduct person-oriented research studies find themselves faced with an array of challenging theoretical and methodological questions. The overarching goals of the chapter are to address some of these challenging issues. The authors develop insights about (1) the theoretical considerations for deciding whether to conduct person-oriented research, (2) the variety of methods available, and (3) how the conclusions from person-oriented research are different from (and can complement) the information gleaned from more traditional variable-focused work.

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Francis J. Yammarino and Janaki Gooty

Multi-level issues and multiple levels of analysis are important in leadership research. In this chapter, the authors identify and explain multi-level issues particularly relevant for leadership theory and methods, including the primary levels in organizations; alternative views of each level; level-specific, emergent, and cross-level relationships; and time, fallacies, and analytics for multiple levels of analysis. They then explore in greater depth the level of analysis that to date has been the most neglected and misunderstood in leadership research – dyads. In doing so, they highlight different dyadic conceptualizations, including dependencies within and between dyads, independent and dependent dyads, and nested and cross-classified dyads; and highlight three methodological approaches for dyadic leadership research – actor–partner interdependence model, random coefficient modeling, and within and between analysis – with discussion of their similarities and differences. Finally, some recommendations for multi-level theory and methods in general, and dyadic research specifically, in the leadership realm are offered.