International qualitative research: A critical review of different approaches

Date of publication: June 15, 1993


This paper has been written by three practitioners who have not only co-ordinated studies all around the globe but have been co-ordinated as well, both by client companies as well as other research institutes. The approaches examined in this paper are thus the main ones we have encountered and our observations are based on this experience. In this paper, we seek to review these different approaches with a view to: 1. Understanding their implications and results, their relative strengths and weaknesses, applications, quality of output, utility to decision making, ability to meet strategic objectives, understanding local cultures, the costs and above all identifying the hidden dangers involved. It also examines the trade-offs that are made along the way and questions whether their implications are fully appreciated. 2. Questioning the role of the researcher. Is she or he merely a Doer; or is there a valuable contribution to be made, both at the local as well as co-ordinating level. Do clients know best where their products and markets are concerned? What are the dangers of linguists undertaking analysis or fieldwork in countries other than their own? Can one afford to ignore local input and local analysis ? 3. Examining different cultural attitudes to co-ordination. As the two main Buyers, Europe and the USA hold different views not just on co-ordination but on Qualitative Research as well. This paper will examine both viewpoints. 4. Case history material is used to support and illustrate our findings, based on over 15 years of experience of each of the authors. In this paper, we would like to review six of the most commonly used approaches to co-ordination.

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