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Conducting Qualitative Research

Conducting Qualitative Research

Code: MGT2LG101
Extent: 5 ECTS (135 h)
Timing: 1st semester
Language: English
Level: Advanced Professional Studies
Type: Compulsory

Starting level and linkage with other courses

This course is one of the compulsory advanced professional studies (CAPS) that master students are taking during their first year studies. This course provides work development methods and tools and is linked to the Conducting Quantitative Research course, as well as to Project Management course. It is also strongly linked to the thesis as a work development project.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the students will understand

  • what research is and what it is not
  • the differences between basic and applied research
  • how to select and use qualitative research methods for business studies and for the thesis
  • the strengths of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research
  • the skills required for an academic researcher
  • the attributes for a good research topic and problem definition
  • the decisions concerning research process and design
  • data collection, analyses, and interpreting the findings
  • the role of theory in preparing for the interviewing
  • the skill for interviewing
  • reliability and validity in qualitative research
  • reporting the findings

The students will understand and apply

  • case study research (CSR)
  • the purpose of action research (AR)
  • the involvement and role of the researcher in AR
  • the broader implications of AR
  • appreciative inquiry (AI) as an organizational analysis and design and development tool
  • learning/knowledge café as a knowledge sharing tool
  • importance of self-reflections on learning

The main goals of the course are to deepen students’ existing knowledge about qualitative research by making them aware of new developments in this field (for example appreciative inquiry) and helping them to apply their knowledge in team and individual assignments and later in their own master’s thesis.

Objective of the course is to learn about research philosophies most common in social sciences and about two research strategies such as action research (AR) and case study research (CSR). Action research is to achieve change and improvements in existing managerial practices or achieve change in one part or in the whole of an organization. Case study research explains or describes complex and contemporary events in authentic business settings. These two research strategies are the most frequently selected and applied research approaches by business students.

Course contents

Module 1: Qualitative Research (QLR)

  • defining the research problem, research objectives, and formulating the research questions
  • qualitative research  process, design, data collection methods, analyses, interpretations and reporting

Module 2: Action Research (AR)

  • action research (AR) as research strategy
  • historical development of the AR theory
  • rational for AR
  • Appreciative Inquiry (AI) group assignment
  • characteristics and the process of AR
  • benefits and limitations of AR
  • current trends in AR thinking

Module 3: Case Study Research (CSR)

  • case study research (CSR) as research strategy
  • advantages and drawbacks of CSR
  • design and process of CSR
  • types of case studies
  • analyzing data and interpreting findings
  • validity and reliability issues in AR and CSR
  • reporting and presenting findings

Cooperation with the business community

Students, by conducting the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) course project in teams, will apply their learning to an authentic business context. Guest lecturers with qualitative research experiences will be invited to the course.

International dimension

Cases and readings are from international business contexts. Students work in multicultural teams.

Teaching and learning methods

In addition to contact lessons, the students will work on both team and individual assignments.

Contact sessions (lectures, discussions, guest lectures) 36 h
Independent studies and working on individual assignments 33 h
Working on group assignments 60 h
Presenting group assignments 5 h
The assessment of one’s own learning 1 h

Accreditation of prior learning (APL)

Depending on the requirements of the teacher prior learning could be accepted fully or partly.

Teacher responsible

Maria Jakubik, Pasila

Course materials

Marschan-Piekkari, R. & Welch, C. 2004. Handbook of qualitative research methods for international business. Edward Elgar. Cheltenham. (Selected chapters).

Miles, M. B. & Huberman, A. M. 1994. Qualitative data analyses: an expanded sourcebook. Sage. Thousands Oaks.

Preskill, H. & Catsambas, T.T. 2006. Reframing Evaluation Through Appreciative Inquiry. Sage Publications. London.

Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (eds) 2006. Handbook of Action Research. The Concise Paperback Edition. First published 2001. Sage Publications Ltd. London. (Selected chapters).

Reed, J. 2007. Appreciative Inquiry. Research for Change. Sage Publications. London.

Rubin, H. J. & Rubin, I. S. 2005. Qualitative interviewing: the art of hearing data. Sage.Thousands Oaks.

Saldana, J. 2009. The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. Sage Publications Ltd. London.

Saunders, M. & Lewis, M. & Thornhill, A. 2009. Research Methods for Business Studies. 5th edition. First published 1997. FT Prentice Hall (Compulsory).

Silverman, D. 2011. Qualitative Research. Sage. London.

Weisbord, M. & Janoff, S. 2000. Future Search. An Action Guide to Finding Common Ground in Organizations & Communities. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. San Francisco.

Yin, R. 2002. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Newbury Park, CA. Sage. (Compulsory).

Recommended readings listed on Moodle.
Other selected articles provided by the teacher.

Assessment criteria

The course is evaluated on scale 1 to 5 (where 5 is the best). The assessment criteria are presented below regarding three areas, such as knowledge, skills, and competencies.

Grade/ Learning outcomes

1 (minimum 40% competence level)

3 (minimum 70% competence level)

5 (minimum 90% competence level)


The student can identify, list, and combine the main qualitative research concepts.

The student can describe the relevant qualitative research concepts and apply them to new contexts. The student can link the key theoretical concepts to the practical task to present the big picture.

The student uses and combines different qualitative research concepts and theories, develops own models. His/her use of theory and specific terminology is very accurate. Student is aware of different research philosophies, and compares different models, theories and viewpoints.


With great difficulty and under strict supervision, the student partly collects, poorly analyzes, and partly uses relevant research findings to conduct the course project for a client company at a beginner’s level.

Student knows how to use certain qualitative research concepts.

The student can collect, partly analyze and partly use relevant research findings to accomplish the course project for a client company at a beginner’s level.

Student is able to choose the relevant tools, methods, and frameworks to the specific situation and context.

The student is able to collect, analyze and use relevant research findings to accomplish the course project for a client company at a high professional level. Student demonstrates excellent skills to choose the appropriate tools, methods, and frameworks that are relevant to the course project.


With great difficulty and under strict supervision, the student is able to complete tasks. S/he poorly applies the concepts, tools, and theories to the qualitative research projects. S/he can conduct qualitative research with the help of the supervisor.

The student is able to work relatively independently with a client company in a team. S/he is able to apply concepts, tools, and theories to the qualitative research projects. S/he can conduct qualitative research relatively independently from the supervisor.

The student is able work very professionally and independently with a client company in a team. S/he can fully apply the learned concepts, tools, and theories to qualitative research projects. S/he can conduct qualitative research at a highly professional level and in an innovative way.

Assessment components and their respective weights

Article summaries and their discussions (individual assignments) 40%
AI Project including report and presentation (group assignment) 60%
Self-reflective paper (individual assignment) - Passed/Failed
The assessment of one’s own learning 1 h

All components need to be passed. There will be no extra assignments given to compensate absences. There will be no extra assignment/s given to compensate absences.
The assessment of one's own learning does not influence the course grade. The assignment is the same for all courses/modules and the answers will also be used for course/module development. The assignment is completed on an E-form.