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Problematising qualitative research in organisations: Three voices, three subjectivities, three struggles

Liz Hayes (Corporate Community, Dublin, Ireland)
Clare Hopkinson (Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Alan Gordon Taylor (Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 13 June 2016




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the authors’ multiple subjectivities, in research and in practice which are ever shifting in context with each other. The authors present richness of understanding which can be revealed when researchers eschew consensus, certainty and easy solutions. The authors aim to show that plurality of ontological and epistemological approaches combined with diversity in understanding and subjective experience is necessary in qualitative research in organisations.


The authors take a playful and incomplete narrative approach in their critical reflection on the subjectivities being silenced or ignored in organisations and in academia. The authors present an unsettling and ambiguous read but the aim is to question the formulaic, linear, simplistic solutions and structures evident in organisations and academia that silence uncertainty, emotions, voice and creativity through standardisation and the rhetoric of collaboration for performance enhancement. This process the authors have termed philosophical violence.


The authors identify philosophical violence as a dominant theme in qualitative research, in organisational practice and within academia. In contrast, the authors’ embodied subjectivities preclude the reaching agreement or consensus too quickly, or indeed, at all. The authors’ embodied struggles add to the understanding of ambiguity, difference, critical reflexivity and understanding, providing richness and accommodating diversity and paradox in the inquiries in the organisations.


The authors show the struggles as hopeful and the non-collaborative collaboration as a resource from which the authors can individually and jointly develop new understandings of working and thus survive the philosophical violence found in organisations and in research. Honouring subjectivities is essential for rich qualitative research in organisations.



Hayes, L., Hopkinson, C. and Taylor, A.G. (2016), "Problematising qualitative research in organisations: Three voices, three subjectivities, three struggles", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 127-146.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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