Qualitative research: opportunities for researchers in the Baltic region

Catherine Cassell (Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
Gillian Symon (School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 7 April 2015



Cassell, C. and Symon, G. (2015), "Qualitative research: opportunities for researchers in the Baltic region", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 10 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/BJM-02-2015-0033



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Qualitative research: opportunities for researchers in the Baltic region

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Baltic Journal of Management, Volume 10, Issue 2

Qualitative research methods have much to offer business and management researchers hence we were delighted to be invited to edit this Special Issue of the Baltic Journal of Management focusing solely on qualitative research. This journal is renowned for contributing to an understanding of different management cultures in a region of the world that is experiencing rapid political and economic change. Our contention is that qualitative research can create novel and insightful methods and frameworks for addressing these distinctive challenges. As Joint Editors of the Emerald journal Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: an International Journal, we have seen the increased interest in the use of qualitative methods over recent years, yet research within the Baltic region has typically been dominated by the use of quantitative methods of data collection and analysis conducted within a positivist framework.

Research stemming from qualitative techniques covers a whole spectrum of methods and can be located within a wide range of epistemological perspectives (Cassell and Symon, 2004; Symon and Cassell, 2012). Many of these techniques are not well-known to management researchers in the Baltic region despite the potentially unique perspectives they can offer on important and contemporary management research issues. Hence our aim in producing the Special Issue has been twofold: first, to showcase the rich variety of methods and approaches available to those who choose to use qualitative research; and second, to promote the use of qualitative research by management researchers in the region.

In relation to the first aim, the papers do showcase a variety of different qualitative techniques and epistemological approaches. Boži and Ozreti-Došen’s paper on “Enabling innovation and creativity in market-oriented firms” draws on a qualitative case studies approach, where comparisons are made between companies on a range of criteria through the inductive analysis of interview data. They conclude that in order to foster creativity and innovativeness, firms modify market orientation forms over time; particularly when industry and market changes occur. By contrast, Zydziunaite, Lepaite, Åstedt-Kurki and Suominen explore the ethical dilemmas faced by head nurses in Lithuania through unstructured written reflections. Head nurses were asked to reflect and write about their experiences of ethical challenges during the decision-making process. They conclude that head nurses have to make complex decisions in challenging ethical contexts and experience constraints on their leadership and autonomy. Such constraints restrict the opportunities to implement nursing management in healthcare organisations. A further novel method is covered in Cordoba-Pachon and Loureiro-Koechlin’s paper, which focuses upon online ethnography and the opportunities it offers management researchers. Their reflexive description of their study of software developers interacting online provides important insights into the advantages and disadvantages of this methodology, as well as highlighting the understandings that can be generated through this very contemporary methodological approach. The authors conclude that one aim of the paper is that its insights and reflections will inspire other researchers to “capitalise on the opportunities that the online world can offer them for the future”.

Lepistö’s paper “On the use of rhetoric in promotingEnterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems” illustrates a very different epistemological approach to research from the positivist standpoint perhaps more familiar to readers of the Baltic Journal of Management. Informed by a social constructionist stance, the rhetorical analysis presented through a close reading of a management text – On ERP systems by Thomas H. Davenport – highlights how different rhetorical strategies construct our understanding of ERP systems. The author concludes amongst other things that it is important that researchers and practitioners pay attention to the rhetorical strategies used by well-known management writers in order to understand how ideas and concepts are produced and legitimated, rather than objectively discovered. In a similar way, Juntunen’s paper also seeks to encourage innovation in our epistemological approaches by combining objective and subjective ontological approaches to organisational development and change processes. Here the author examines corporate re-branding strategies from a narrative perspective and concludes that combined ontology research provides insights that it would be difficult to achieve if taking one perspective only.

The final paper in the collection by Gonzalez-Loureiro, Dabic and Furrer offers a content analysis of strategic management research in the Baltic area. Through an incisive review of where qualitative studies have contributed to strategic management research, the authors identify certain topics which offer particular opportunities for qualitative researchers, notably, entry and competition; strategic behaviour and the micro-foundations of strategy; and growth-performance relationship studies. Here there are evident gaps in the literature that qualitative methods are particularly suited to. The identification of these areas where qualitative researchers can make a contribution offers a research agenda for qualitative researchers keen to investigate strategic management in the Baltic area.

In summary then, the papers in this collection cover case studies; unstructured written reflections; online ethnography; rhetorical analysis; combined ontologies process methodology; and content analysis. Given this diversity we believe we have achieved our aim of showcasing the variety of different qualitative techniques and epistemological approaches available to management researchers. In relation to the second aim of promoting qualitative research, we would hope that the insights these papers contribute to their various topic areas indicate the currently untapped value of qualitative research in developing our knowledge of management theory and practice. We thank all the contributors for their excellent work, the reviewers for their careful and constructive feedback, and the journal’s editors for recognising the opportunity. We hope that this collection encourages the readers of the Baltic Journal of Management to explore the many opportunities that qualitative research has to offer.

Professor Catherine Cassell, - Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Professor Gillian Symon, - School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK


Cassell, C.M. and Symon G. (2004), Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research, Sage Publications, London

Symon, G. and Cassell, C.M. (2012), Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and Current Challenges, Sage Publications, London

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