Finding Theory-Method Fit: A Comparison of Three Qualitative Approaches to Theory Building

Gehman, J., Glaser, V.L., Eisenhardt, K.M., Gioia, D.A., Langley, A. & Corley, K.G. 2018. Finding Theory–Method Fit: A Comparison of Three Qualitative Approaches to Theory Building. Journal of Management Inquiry. 27: 284–300. doi:10.1177/1056492617706029.

17 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2017 Last revised: 10 Feb 2022

See all articles by Joel Gehman

Joel Gehman

George Washington University - Department of Strategic Management & Public Policy

Vern Glaser

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Stanford University - Department of Management Science & Engineering

Dennis A. Gioia

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Management & Organization

Ann Langley

HEC Montreal

Kevin G. Corley

Arizona State University - W. P. Carey School of Business

Date Written: May 30, 2017

Abstract

This article, together with a companion video, provides a synthesized summary of a Showcase Symposium held at the 2016 Academy of Management Annual Meeting in which prominent scholars—Denny Gioia, Kathy Eisenhardt, Ann Langley and Kevin Corley—discussed different approaches to theory building with qualitative research. Our goal for the symposium was to increase management scholars’ sensitivity to the importance of theory-method “fit” in qualitative research. We have integrated the panelists’ prepared remarks and interactive discussion into three sections: an introduction by each scholar, who articulates their own approach to qualitative research; their personal reflections on the similarities and differences between approaches to qualitative research, and answers to general questions posed by the audience during the symposium. We conclude by summarizing insights gleaned from the symposium about important distinctions among these three qualitative research approaches and their appropriate usages.

Keywords: qualitative methods, theory building

JEL Classification: M10, O32

Suggested Citation

Gehman, Joel and Glaser, Vern and Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. and Gioia, Dennis A. and Langley, Ann and Corley, Kevin G., Finding Theory-Method Fit: A Comparison of Three Qualitative Approaches to Theory Building (May 30, 2017). Gehman, J., Glaser, V.L., Eisenhardt, K.M., Gioia, D.A., Langley, A. & Corley, K.G. 2018. Finding Theory–Method Fit: A Comparison of Three Qualitative Approaches to Theory Building. Journal of Management Inquiry. 27: 284–300. doi:10.1177/1056492617706029., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2937310

Joel Gehman (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Strategic Management & Public Policy ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

Vern Glaser

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada

Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Stanford University - Department of Management Science & Engineering ( email )

473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-9025
United States

Dennis A. Gioia

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Management & Organization ( email )

University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States

Ann Langley

HEC Montreal ( email )

Kevin G. Corley

Arizona State University - W. P. Carey School of Business ( email )

Dept. of Management & Entrepreneurship
PO Box 874006
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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