Hands-on Qualitative Methods


Magali Gravier, Associate Professor (MSC) 
Mette Zølner, Associate Professor (MSC) 
Dan Kärreman (MSC)
Joshua Kragh Bruhn, Information Specialist (CBS Library) 

Course coordinator
Associate Professors Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner, Department of Management, Society and Communication, CBS


The PhD student should attach to the application one document: 

A brief note (no more than 150 words), listing: 

  • Your research topic 
  • The kind of data you are gathering 

  • Five key questions on methodological/analytical issues in your project. 

  • Date of the start of your PhD project 

The PhD student will be told if he/she is accepted to the course after the registration deadline. 

If you are accepted to the course you should work out a five-pages (maximum) written presentation in which you relate some parts of the curriculum literature in the course to your project.

The presentation should focus on a methodological and analytical issue, and specific references to 
course literature. A list of literature will be uploaded on Canvas, which you will have access to after acceptance to the course.

Deadline for sending this document is 2 weeks before course begin. 

The five pages will provide material for discussions and reflections throughout the course. You will be asked to discuss your own project as well as the projects of course participants, and to reflect upon how you can include learnings in your PhD. project. 

It is a precondition for receiving the course diploma that the PhD student attends the whole course. 

This course serves as a basic primer for PhD students on how to conduct solid qualitative research as well as on major considerations that researchers need to reflect upon when aspiring to conduct qualitative research with quality.

Course content

The course will consist of four main components: 

1) It will provide the students with hands-on knowledge on how to conduct a qualitative research project. The course will focus on how to elaborate research designs, how to make a workable research topic, how to choose the appropriate analytical strategy, how to analyze data, and how to present qualitative research in a PhD and in scientific publications. 

2) It will discuss qualitative research methods in relation to dominant philosophies of science (i.e. positivism, constructionism, critical realism and pragmatism) and their respective quality criteria. 

3) It will enhance the students’ ability to reflect upon own research designs and methods through discussions and sharing of experiences with course participants and CBS researchers. 

4) Students will be offered exercises in order to acquire and improve skills in qualitative methods. 

Teaching style
Lectures with workshops, dialogues, exercises, student presentations and discussions.

Lecture plan

Day 1  Scientific philosophy and paradigms 

10.00 Introduction of the course (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

10.30  Qualitative research processes in various paradigms (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

(i.e. Positivism, constructionism, critical realism)  

Role playing game – philosophy of science Part I. 

12.30 Lunch  

13.30 A tale from the field on ethics (Dan Kärreman)

14.30 Role playing game – philosophy of science Part II. 

16.00 Role playing game – philosophy of science Part III. 

16.30 Discussions around students’ projects (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

17.15 End of day 

Day 2 Research Design and qualitative data: What is it and how to proceed? 

9.00 Processes of defining a qualitative research design 

(i.e. Research strategy, deductive, inductive, abductive, retroductive approaches; quality criteria) (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

10.40 Collecting qualitative data and field access 

(i.e. Case studies, participant) observationsshadowing, documents, social media, interviews, visual data) (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

12.30 Lunch 

13.30 A tale from the field on planning and collecting qualitative data (Dan Kärreman) 

14.30 Discussions around students’ projects (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

16.15/16.30 End of day - Hand out of data material for day 3  

Course Dinner

Day 3 Doing data analysis 

9.00 Various analytical strategies (i.e. Content analysis, Discourse analysis, Narrative analysis, Ethnomethodology(Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner 

11.30 Hands-on analytical strategies and working in research teams (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

Exercise 1: applying two analytical strategies to selected data material  

12.30 Lunch 

13.30 A tale from the field on analyzing (Dan Kärreman)

14.30 Hands-on analytical strategies and working in research teams 

Exercise 2: applying two analytical strategies to selected data material (Mette Zølner & Magali Gravier) 

15.30 Hands-on analytical strategies and working in research teams 

Exercise 3: Method combinations (drawing on exercise 1 and 2) (Mette Zølner & Magali Gravier) 

17.00 End of day 

Day 4 From Data to theorizing 

9.0Using NVIVO for qualitative data analysis: assets and challenges (Joshua Kragh Bruhn, CBS Library - TBC) 

10.15 Discussing software based vs manual data analysis (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

11.00 What about theorizing? (Magali Gravier & Mette Zølner) 

12.30 Lunch 

13.30 Two participants presentations on how to implement learnings in own PhD project 

14.30 In class home-work – preparing for tomorrow 

17:00 End of the day. 

Day 5 Implementing on own research 

9.00 Student presentations on how to implement learnings in their Ph.D. projects (Mette Zølner & Magali Gravier)  

10.00 A tale from the field on presenting and publishing qualitative analyses (Dan Kärreman)

12.30 Lunch 

13.30 Student presentations on how to implement learnings in their Ph.D. projects (Mette Zølner & Magali Gravier) 

14.30 Wrapping up and evaluations 

15.30 End of the course 

Learning objectives
  • Enhance the participants’ knowledge and ability to work with qualitative methods and research; 

  • Develop the participants’ capacity to reflect critically upon qualitative methods and research 
  • Make participants aware of the pros and cons of doing qualitative research (both in general and in regard to specific qualitative methods); 

  • Help the participants learn how to present qualitative research convincingly in their PhD and scientific publications. 

Not applicable.


Start date

End date




Course Literature

Indicative list of literature (A final list of literature will be uploaded on Canvas).  

Readings in bold are main course readings. 

[1] Alasuutari, P. (2004). The globalization of qualitative research. In C. Seale, G. Gobo, J.F. Gubrium and D. Silverman (eds), Qualitative research practice. (pp. 595-608). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

[2] Alvesson, Mats. 2003. “Beyond Neopositivists, Romantics, and Localists: A Reflexive Approach to Interviews in Organizational Research.” The Academy of Management Review 28 (1): 13–33. 

Alvesson, M. and Sköldberg, K. (2009). Reflexive methodology. New Vistas for qualitative research. London: Sage (2nd edition). 

Alvesson, Mats, and Dan Kärreman. 2011. Qualitative Research and Theory Development: Mystery as Method. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. 

[3] Bansal, P.T. & Corley, K. (2012). Publishing in AMJ--Part 7: What’s different about qualitative research? Academy of Management Journal, 55(3), 509-513. 

Bazeley P. and Jackson, K. (2013). Qualitative Data Analysis with NVIVO. Sage (2nd ed.) 

Bhaskar, Roy. 2008. A Realist Theory of Science. Rev. ed. London: Routledge. 

[4] Bernard, H. R., Amber Wutich, and Gery W. Ryan. 2017. Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. Second edition. Los Angeles: SAGE. (chap. 10-19: read ONE chapter of your choice among chapters)  

Boland, Angela, M. G. Cherry, and Rumona Dickson, eds. 2017. Doing a Systematic Review: A Student's Guide: SAGE Publications Ltd. 

Bono, J. E. & McNamara, G. (2011). Publishing in AMJ--Part 2: Research design. Academy of Management Journal, 54(4), 657-660. 

[5] Brannen, Mary Y. (2011). Using Multiple Case Studies to Generalize Form Ethnographic Research, In R. Piekkari and C. Welch (Eds). Rethinking the Case Study in international Business and Management Research. (pp. 124–45). Cheltenham, UK - Northhampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing. 

[6Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. 

Buchanan, D., Boddy, D. and McCalman, J. (1988). Getting in, getting on, getting out, and getting back, In Alan Bryman (Ed). 1988. Doing research in organizations. (pp. 53-6). London: Routledge.  

Burtt, Emma. 2020. “When Access Is Denied: Conducting an Interview Through Letter Writing.” Qualitative Research, 146879412093612. doi:10.1177/1468794120936123. 

Cassell, C., Bishop, F., Symon, G., Johnson, P. and Buehring, A. (2009). Learning to be a qualitative management researcher. Management Learning, 40(5): 513-533.  

Cassell, C., Cunliffe, A. L., Grandy, G. (2018). (Eds). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. History and Traditions. London: Sage. 

[7Chidlow, A., Plakoyinnaki, E. and Welch, C. (2014). Translation in cross-language international business research: Beyond equivalence, Journal of International Business Studies, 45: 562-582. 

Colquitt, J. A. & Geroge, G. (2011). Publishing in AMJ--Part 1: Topic choice. Academy of Management Journal, 54(3): 432-435.  

Cuervo-Cazurra, A.; Andersson, U.; Brannen, M.Y.; Nielsen, B.B.; and Reuber, A.R. 2016. From the Editors: Can I trust your findings? Ruling out alternative explanations in international business research. Journal of International Business Studies, 47: 881-897. 

[8Czarniawska, B. 2016. Reflexivity versus rigor. Management Learning, 47(5): 615-619. 

Elsbach, K.D. and Kramer, R.M. 2016. Handbook of qualitative organizational research. Innovative pathways and Methods. London: Routledge. 

Emerson, Robert M., Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw. 2011. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Second edition, 3rd print. Chicago guides to writing, editing, and publishing. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 

[9Esin, C. Fathi, M. and Squire, C. (2014). Narrative analysis: the constructionist approach’. In Flick, U. The SAGE Handbook of qualitative data analysisThousand Oaks: Sage. 

Flick, U.  (2014). An introduction to qualitative research. London: Sage (5th edition) 

Flick, U. (ed) (2014). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Sage.  

Gabriel, Y. (2018). Stories and Narratives. In, Cassell, C., Cunliffe, A. L., Grandy, G. (2018). (Eds). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. Methods and Challenges. (pp. 63-81). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Geletkanycz, M. & Tepper, B. J. (2012). Publishing in AMJ--Part 6: Discussing the implications. Academy of Management Journal, 55(2): 256-260. 

Gephart, R.P. (2018). Qualitative Research as Interpretive Social Science, in: C. Cassell,  A. L. Cunliffe and G. Grandy (eds). Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. History and Traditions. (pp. 33-54). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Gioia, D. A., K. N. Price, A. L. Hamilton, and J. B. Thomas. (2010). Forging an Identity: An Insider-Outsider Study of Processes Involved in the Formation of Organizational Identity. Administrative Science Quarterly, 55: 1–46. 

Gonzales, Laura. 2018. Sites of Translation: What Multilinguals Can Teach Us About Digital Writing and Rhetoric: University of Michigan Press (Chapter 1). DOI: 10.3998/mpub.9952377  

Grant, A. M. & Pollock, T. G. (2011). Publishing in AMJ--Part 3: Setting the hook. Academy of Management Journal, 54(5): 873-879. 

Hardre, P. L. (2013). The power and strategic art of revise-and-resubmit: Maintaining balance in academic publishing. Journal of Faculty Development, 27: 13-19. 

Holton, J.A. (2018). ‘From Grounded Theory to Grounded Theorizing in qualitative research’. In Catherine, Cassell, Ann L. Cunliffe and Gina Grandy (Eds). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. (pp. 233-250). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Jack, G. and Westwood, R. (2006). Post-colonialism and the politics of qualitative research in international business. Management International Review, 46(4): 481-501. 

[10Karra, Neri, and Nelson Phillips. 2008. “Researching “Back Home”.” Organizational Research Methods 11 (3): 541–61. 

Kavalainen, A. and Eriksson, P. (2008). Qualitative Methods in Business Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Kawabata, M. and Gastaldo D. (2015). The less said, the better: interpreting silence in qualitative research. International Journal of qualitative methods, 14(4): 1-9. 

[11] Kozinets, R. V. (2018). Netnography for Management and Business Research. In, Cassell, C., Cunliffe, A. L., Grandy, G. (2018). (Eds). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. Methods and Challenges. (384-397). Thousand Oaks: Sage.. 

[12] Kreiner, G.E. (2016). Tabula Geminus. A “Both/And” approach to coding and theorizing, in: Kimberly D. Elsbach, Roderick M. Kramer. (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Organizational Research: Innovative Pathways and Methods. London: Routledge. 

Kvale, S. and S. Brinkmann (2009) Interviews. Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research InterviewingThousand Oaks: Sage. 

Ledin, Per, and David Machin. 2018. Doing Visual Analysis. Thousand Oaks CA: SAGE Publications. 

Leroux, P. and Neveu, E. (dir.), 2017En Immersion. Pratiques intensives du terrain en journalisme, littérature et sciences sociales, Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 427 p. 

[13] Lillrank, A. (2012) Managing the Interviewer Self. In Jaber F. Gubrium and James A. Holstein & Amir B. Marvasti & Karyn D. McKinney (Eds). The SAGE Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft. (pp. 281-295). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Michailova, S. (2004) Contextualising Fieldwork: Reflections on conducting research in Eastern Europe, in Marshan-Piekkari, R. and Welch, C. Eds. (2004), Handbook of qualitative research. Methods for international business. (pp. 365-383). London: Edward Elgar.  

Michailova, S., Piekkari, R., Playkoyiannaki, E., Salmi, T. R. I. M. A. (2014). Breaking the silence about exiting fieldwork: a relational approach and its implications for theorizing. Academy of Management Review, 39 (2): 138–161.  

Miles, M. B. and Huberman, M. A. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. London: Sage (2nd edition). 

[14] Nadin, Sara, and Catherine Cassell. 2006. “The Use of a Research Diary as a Tool for Reflexive Practice.” Qualitative Res Acc & Man 3 (3): 208–17. doi:10.1108/11766090610705407. 

[15] Piekkari, R., Welch, C., Zølner, M. (2020). The uneasy relationship between the case study and cross-cultural management. In, Szkudlarek, B., Romani, L., Caprar, D.V., Osland, J.S. (2020) (eds). The Sage Handbook of Contemporary Cross-Cultural Management. (pp. 156-170). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Piekkari, R. and Welch, C. (2018). The Case Study in Management Research: Beyond the Positivist Legacy of Eisenhard and Yin? In: C. Cassell,  A. L. Cunliffe and G. Grandy (eds). Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. History and Traditions. (pp. 345-358). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

[16] Potter, J. & Hepburn, A. (2012). Eight Challenges for Interview Researchers in Jaber F. Gubrium & James A. Holstein & Amir B. Marvasti & Karyn D. McKinney The SAGE Handbook of Interview Research: The Complexity of the Craft, Second Edition (pp. 555-571). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

[17] Pratt, M. G. (2008). Fitting Oval Pegs Into Round Holes Tensions in Evaluating and Publishing Qualitative Research in Top-Tier North American Journals, Organizational Research Methods, 11(3): 481-509. 

Reichertz, Jo. 2014. “Induction, Deduction, Abduction.” In the SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis, edited by Uwe Flick, 123–35. Los Angeles: SAGE. 

[18] Rheinhardt, A., Kreiner, G.E., Gioia, D.A., Corley, K. (2018). Conducting and Publishing Rigorous Qualitative Research. In C. Cassell, A.L. Cunliffe and G. Grandy. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. (pp. 515-531)Thousand Oaks: Sage  

Rivera, K.D. (2018). ‘Use your Feelings’: Emotion as a tool for qualitative research. In, Cassell, C., Cunliffe, A. L., Grandy, G. (2018). (Eds). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. Methods and Challenges. (pp. 450-467). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Roulston, K. Analysing interviews. In Flick, U. (2014). The SAGE Handbook of qualitative data analysisThousand Oaks: Sage. 

Roulston, K.. 2010. “Considering Quality in Qualitative Interviewing.” Qualitative Research 10 (2): 199–228. doi:10.1177/1468794109356739. 

Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for Qualitative Research. London: Sage. 

Salmons, J. (2015). Qualitative online interviews. London: Sage (2nd edition). 

Silverman, D. (2014). Interpreting qualitative data. London: Sage (5th edition). 

Sparrowe, R. T. & Mayer, K. J. (2011). Publishing in AMJ—Part 4: Grounding hypotheses. Academy of Management Journal, 54(6), 1098-1102. 

St. Pierre, E. A. and Jackson, A.Y. (2014). Qualitative data analysis after coding. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(6):715-719. 

Su, N. (2018). Positivist qualitative methods. In C. Cassell, A.L. Cunliffe and G. Grandy. The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods. (pp. 17-32). Thousand Oaks: Sage. 

Suddaby, R. (2010). Construct clarity in theories of management and organization. Academy of Management Review, 35(3), 346-357. 

Sword, H. (2012). Stylish academic writing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.   

Thomas, D.C.; Cuervo-Cazurra, A. and Brannen, M.Y. (2011). From the Editors: Explaining theoretical relationships in international business research: Focusing on the arrows, NOT the boxes. Journal of International Business Studies, 42: 1073-1078. 

Tracy, S. J. (2012). Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact. Wiley-Blackwell. 

[19] Welch, C. & Piekkari, R. (2017). How should we (not) judge the ‘quality’ of qualitative research? A reassessment of current evaluative criteria in International Business. Journal of World Business 52: 714-725. 

[20] Welch, C. Piekkari, R., Plakoyiannaki, E. Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, E. (2011). Theorising from case studies: Towards a pluralist future for international business research, Journal of International Business Studies, 42: 740-762. 

White, P. (2009). Developing Research QuestionsPalgrave Macmillan. (Chapter 2). 

Zhang, Y. & Shaw, J. D. (2012). Publishing in AMJ--Part 5: Crafting the method and results. Academy of Management Journal, 55(1), 8-12. 


DKK 6,500,- (includes course fee, coffee/tea and lunch)

Minimum number of participants

Maximum number of participants

Copenhagen Business School
Dalgas Have
2000 Frederiksberg
Room: DHV 2.71, 2.70 & 2.69 (second floor)

Contact information
For administrative issues please contact PhD Support: 
Nina Iversen
Tel: 3815 2475

Registration deadline

Course registration is binding after the course registration deadline. 

In case we receive more registrations for the course than we have places, the registrations will be prioritized in the following order: Students from CBS departments, students from other institutions than CBS. 

This course runs anually.
Register here