Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Dialectical Inquiry-Does It Deliver? A User Based Research Experience

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Dialectical Inquiry-Does It Deliver? A User Based Research Experience

Article excerpt


The objective of the paper is to provide an account of the use Dialectical Inquiry (DI) by the researcher and to promote its value as a qualitative research method for the study of two groups within the same piece of research. The challenge was the construction of theory based on case study research and to also expose the value of (DI) in the creation of sense making processes as they emerge based on real world phenomena. In many cases of literature qualitative studies are considered less valuable, as the data is not projectable based on its sample size and nucleus. However, in many cases in DI the results are richer in content. The implication being that DI has a place in research and is grounded in review and analysis of real world data supplied by the actors involved. DI is based on its ability to capture knowledge and information from real actors, however the challenge of DI as a research technique is that DI does not rely on numeric or volume of respondents as in quantitative studies thus validity and reliability is in question by many researchers. However, DI has numerous strengths as it enables the researcher to explore inside the phenomena and understand the mechanics in detail; this insight is missed in quantitative enquiry. Rigorous analysis of DI data and correlation drives validity, and it is the DI method of constant evaluation of scripts that form frameworks and structures that make DI a powerful research method. The paper will promote DI as a useful method in qualitative methodologies and debate its strengths and weaknesses bases on a recent major research project, within a described research setting.

The research project was to understand the conceptual differences between senders and receivers of Customer Experience Management (CEM) within English universities. The challenge was to consider existing for profit models of CEM, gain real word data from not for profit institutions, understand, and interpret differences that exist in the two environments. Staff and students were considered as subject matter experts as they are the participants in the CEM exchange. The objective was to "make sense" of the secondary data using DI analysis.

It was planned that by testing validity and reliability through various DI analysis, conclusions could be drawn which demonstrates the value of DI as a qualitative research approach. The author of this paper constructed the research question, developed the lines of enquiry and completed the field research. This led to a collection of data that is consolidated using NVivo 8 (recordings, notes, literature) using Nodes analysis.

From here the data was analyzed and subjected to DI imposed analysis which through its rigor created viable patterns and themes, which were then considered with for profit CEM models. The process identified considerable differences between for profit and not for profit CEM that has implications on CEM theory.

DI as a research method is very useful in building a strong picture of what are real live experiences and it reduces loose interpretation and bias as the DI data collection is rigorous and controlled and can be analyzed using coding and word association.

Moreover, DI allows flexibility of response and exploration of areas that are formed during the inquiry; this is highly valuable in the study of processes as an example.


Theory development is a central process in research. Historically, researchers have developed theory by combining observations from previous literature using common sense and good practice (Creswell, 2007). De Jong and Berg (2008) argue that the close connection with empirical "reality" provides for the development of a relevant and valid theory.

There is lack of clarity about the process of constructing theory from cases, it is especially obvious when using the central inductive process. Although Yin (2004), Grinnell and Esrau (2011) examine the rebuilding approaches and their strengths and weaknesses, they do not reach a consensus. …

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