Moalusi, Kgope (2020). Numbers conceal the intricacies in categorising qualitative research in organisational studies: What lies beneath the surface? SA Journal of Industrial Psychology/SA Tydskrif vir Bedryfsielkunde, 46, art. 1692. 12 pp. (Link: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v46i0.1692) (Open Access: https://sajip.co.za/index.php/sajip/article/view/1692/2807)

Abstract: Orientation: The characterisation of research as qualitative because it does not use statistics is expedient but tends to conceal the intricacies implicit in such a categorisation. Many novice researchers believe that qualitative research is limited to non-numerical data. Research purpose: The study contributes to the ongoing methodological debates by illustrating that the theoretical underpinnings, and not the non-numerical data, are central to determine what constitutes qualitative research. Motivation for the study: The main purpose of this article is not to debate the question of which research approach is more scientific, rather to distil the theoretical underpinnings of qualitative research to empower those less experienced in qualitative research to make sense of them. Research design: This article is a theoretical study based on a critical literature review and engages critically with methodological issues pertinent to qualitative research. Main findings: While the article is rooted in the notion of methodological pluralism, it focuses on the intricacies implicit in categorising research as qualitative and uses a Q methodological empirical study on trust in business alliances to buttress the view that research can use statistics and remain true to the tenets of qualitative research. Practical implications: An understanding of the role of the theoretical tenets of qualitative research may be essential to empower those who desire to do qualitative research in management and organisational studies. Contribution or value-add: The study builds on existing knowledge and contributes to the ongoing cutting-edge methodological debate by explicating the tenets of qualitative research with the objective of optimising its understanding and application.

Kgope Moalusi <moalukp@unisa.ac.za> is in the Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa.

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