Edited by Keith Townsend, Rebecca Loudoun and David Lewin
Chapter 2: The role of qualitative methods in mixed methods designs
Mixed methods research is growing in popularity across many business and management disciplines. It is now often referred to as the third methodological movement and has an ever-expanding base of research texts and a strong body of foundational literature, seminal authors and methodologists. Although mixed methods research designs vary in complexity across a continuum of simple to highly complex, many of these studies can be described as being very innovative and at times also multidisciplinary. Mixed methods prevalence rate studies across many business and management disciplines not only demonstrate the rates at which mixed methods is being published in top ranking discipline-based journals but also rate the number of quantitative and qualitative studies being published. Grimmer and Hanson (2009) undertook a study of the International Journal of Human Resource Management, analysing 828 articles published between 1998 and 2007. They found 49.4 per cent of articles were quantitative, 23.6 per cent of the published articles were conceptual or theory based, 16.3 per cent were qualitative and 10.7 per cent used a mixture of both qualitative and quantitative (Grimmer and Hanson, 2009). The role of qualitative methods in mixed methods study design is the focus of this chapter that analyses a sample of mixed methods studies published in human resource management (HRM) journals. The analysis has a specific focus on the role of qualitative methods in terms of key dimensions that characterise mixed methods studies: purpose; priority of methods; implementation (sequential or concurrent); and design. Mixed methods research (MMR) has emerged as a legitimate methodology growing in popularity and acceptance across a broad range of disciplines. There are a growing number of texts and journals publishing mixed methods and seminal authors and mixed methodologists. The contentious issues that have been identified in the MMR community include paradigmatic or conceptual stances in MMR, the language or nomenclature of MMR, practical issues in applying MMR and the interface between the conceptual, the methodological and the methods (Tashakkori and Teddlie, 2010, p. 12). This chapter first provides an overview of MMR prevalence rate studies across business and management disciplines before looking at these and related studies from within the HRM discipline. This is followed by an exploration of the role of qualitative methods in mixed methods studies: purpose; priority of methods; implementation (sequential or concurrent); and design. The chapter concludes with some personal reflections of using MMR designs on large national workforce development projects and a concluding discussion on when to use MMR.
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