The most recent issue of the Academy of Management Review contains a must-read for the legal empiricists who lack formal social science training (e.g., me): "Methodological Fit in Management Field Research." The article, by Amy Edmondson (Harvard Business School) and Stacey McManus (Monitor Executive Development), provides a remarkably accessible and constructive framework for research design, including the respective roles of qualitative and quantitative methods. Here is the abstract:
Methodological fit, an implicitly valued attribute of high-quality field research inorganizations, has received little attention in the management literature. Fit refers to internal consistency among elements of a research project—research question, prior work, research design, and theoretical contribution. We introduce a contingency framework that relates prior work to the design of a research project, paying particular attention to the question of when to mix qualitative and quantitative data in a single research paper. We discuss implications of the framework for educating new field researchers.
This article is chock full of useful reference charts that can be relied upon to develop a coherent and effective research plan. For example, this chart [click on to enlarge] summarizes the four key elements of a field research project:
This graphic [click on to enlarge] depicts the iterative nature of good field research:
Two more graphics after the jump: