How practice determines method and method determines practice


Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 12 June 2009



Lindgreen, A. and Hingley, M. (2009), "How practice determines method and method determines practice", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 12 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

How practice determines method and method determines practice

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Volume 12, Issue 3

About the Guest Editors

Adam LindgreenPhD, is Professor of Strategic and International Marketing at Hull University Business School. He received his PhD from Cranfield University. He has published in Business Horizons, Industrial Marketing Management, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Psychology& Marketing. His research interests include business and industrial marketing management, consumer behavior, experiential marketing, and corporate social responsibility. He is an Honorary Visiting Professor at Harper Adams University College and serves on the board of many journals. Adam Lindgreen can be contacted at:

Martin HingleyPhD, is a Principal Lecturer in Marketing, based at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire, the leading university in the UK, specializing in agri-business. His primary research interests involve marketing and the applied areas of food industry marketing and supply chain relationship management. He has presented and published widely in these areas and serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals. Martin Hingley can be contacted at:

The well-determined process of theoretical research has influenced the development of real-life practices and the execution of strategies. However, less well developed is our understanding of how real-life practices influence the way that research methods should and might be developed and conducted. What can researchers developing methodological design processes learn from tried and tested cases or emerging practices on global, national, and local scales? How does the research process interact with businesses and communities? What role do all types of stakeholders play in shaping research processes and practices? Have workable models been developed and put into practice?

The call for papers for this special issue invited research that explores all types of qualitative methods and practices, as well as quantitative approaches that complement qualitative research or support the qualitative bases of research. Academic and market research contains provisions and congruencies between exploratory and statistical methods because, in practice, research often combines both. This special issue aims to show how the research process fits into the greater business and community landscape. A great deal of theoretical work and empirical practice underpins the conceptual development of qualitative research, but this special edition strives to bring together multidirectional network learning and addresses gaps in both literature and practice.

Structure and content of the special issue

Six articles were selected for this issue. In “Longitudinal attitude surveys in consumer research: a case study from the agrifood sector”, Keith Walley, Paul Custance, Gaynor Orton, Stephen Parsons, Adam Lindgreen, and Martin Hingley consolidate theory related to longitudinal attitude surveys and supplement it with knowledge gained from the execution of an annual survey of consumers. Thus, the article discusses actual, longitudinal attitude surveys and applies its approach to a case study that includes a survey (conducted annually during 1997–2004) intended to predict future behaviour and monitor changes in consumer attitudes. The authors also provide a checklist of good practices for conducting longitudinal attitude survey work.

The originality of the second article pertains to its examination of the various effects of reward programs on performance by retail sales associates. Using semi-structured in-depth interviews with 11 employees from four different fashion retail outlets, Jo En Yap, Liliana L. Bove, and Michael B. Beverland suggest that individual and group financial incentives motivate sales associates to engage in both in-role and extra-role behavior simultaneously in “Exploring the effects of different reward programs on in-role and extra-role performance of retail sales associates”. They further note that individual financial incentives, individual social recognition, and group social recognition—compared with formal recognition programs—more effectively motivate sales associates.

Sharyn Rundle-Thiele helps address the knowledge gap pertaining to our understanding of alcohol consumption by providing a means for researchers to observe behaviour in naturalistic settings in her article, “Bridging the gap between claimed and actual behaviour: the role of observational research”. In particular, she demonstrates how covert observation methods enable researchers to record what consumers actually do. Gaps often exist between claimed and actual behavior, and observational methodologies may overcome that limitation. The reported study collects data about actual alcohol consumption using the covert observation method and compares it with claimed alcohol consumption, collected through surveys. The notable gap supports the strong need for this research method.

In the next article of this special issue, “Using triangulation and multiple case studies to advance relationship marketing theory”, Constantino Stavros and Kate Westberg demonstrate the contribution of qualitative methods and techniques for extending our understanding of relationship marketing theory. The authors use the professional sport industry as the context for their application of triangulation and multiple case studies as a means to derive greater relationship marketing insight. Examinations of six Australian sporting organisations, using multiple data collection methods including interviews and historical data sources, reveal how the chosen method provides an immense depth of information and increases the transferability of the findings, which in turn, allows for the development of a relationship marketing model.

Tina Harness, in “Research methods for the empirical study of strategic human resource management,” investigates the methodological choices for studying strategic human resource management practices that potentially can improve an organization’s marketing practices. To this end the author discusses a two-stage methodology; the first part establishes the link between human resource management and an organization’s wider strategic objectives. The second part examines in-depth the organization’s reasons for choosing specific human resource management practices.

Finally, Rosalind Jones and Jennifer Rowley, in “Marketing activities of companies in the educational software sector,” analyses marketing activities of companies in the UK educational software sector. The research explores the marketing environment for educational software firms and investigates whether there are differences in experiences, attitudes and approaches between different sizes of firms. To identify factors experienced by companies the study uses semi-structured, in-depth interviews with key respondents. This allows the authors to identify similarities and differences between the case companies.

Further research

As these selected articles reveal, issues pertaining to the interaction between practice and method remain a rich area of inquiry. This special issue offers some preliminary insights that can help guide managers toward the appropriate types of practices in which they should engage and the methods on which they will need to draw.

We further hope that this special issue prompts additional research on the interaction between practice and method, specifically with regard to issues pertaining to defining and implementing qualitative methods for stakeholders:

  • creating network approaches for research requirements and action;

  • establishing comprehensive frameworks for dealing with the issues associated with qualitative research methods within both organisations and communities;

  • identifying and resolving qualitative research concerns for stakeholders;

  • developing local, regional, and global research strategies;

  • managing mixed (qualitative and quantitative) methods to improve qualitative market research;

  • handling longitudinal studies;

  • establishing the suitability of specific qualitative methods for particular business and community sectors; ensuring stakeholder learning through qualitative methods; measuring research effectiveness;

  • learning from best practice cases in research; and

  • predicting the future for qualitative research theory and practice.


The Guest Editors sincerely thank all those who have contributed toward this special issue of Qualitative Market Research. The reviewing was a double-blind process, and the efforts of the reviewers – who took the time to provide insightful feedback to the authors and thereby helped the authors improve their manuscripts– are gratefully appreciated. Thanks are also extended to the editor, Len Tiu Wright, for the opportunity to guest edit this special issue of Qualitative Market Research. Last, but certainly not least, warm thanks are extended to all of the authors who submitted their manuscripts for consideration. The authors are grateful for their desire to share their knowledge and experience with the journal’s readers—and for having the confidence to put their views forward for possible challenge by their peers. The authors are confident that the articles in this special issue contribute to a greater understanding of how practice determines method and how method determines practice. Moreover, it is hoped that the selected articles generate the kind of dialogue that is necessary to further understanding in this important area.

Adam Lindgreen, Martin Hingley

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