Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Exploring the Alchemy of Qualitative Management Research: Seeking Trustworthiness, Credibility and Rigor through Crystallization

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Exploring the Alchemy of Qualitative Management Research: Seeking Trustworthiness, Credibility and Rigor through Crystallization

Article excerpt

In this paper we explore crystallization in terms of its contribution to qualitative management research. This exploration of crystallization is based on a postmodern view where we utilize triangulation as a point of departure. Currently, the use of crystallization is underdeveloped in the management discipline. Qualitative literature and metaphors are utilized to develop a focus on moving qualitative management research away from positivist terms. To do this we crystalize crystallization with an emphasis on the embodiment of the qualitative researcher as the primary tool in addition to the development of rigor through credibility and trustworthiness. This conceptual approach can benefit qualitative management researchers by drawing upon development and advancement of other disciplines. It is the practice of theory rather than the presentation of theory. The alignment of qualitative management research through a multi-genre approach follows the evolution of qualitative research methods. We aim to stimulate the conversation and position crystallization within the field of qualitative management research as a method for obtaining deeper and richer understanding of phenomena whilst building rigor, allowing creativity and developing intuition for the interpretivist qualitative management researcher. Keywords: Crystallization, Triangulation, Qualitative Management Research, Embodying, Interpretevist

In its most simplistic and misunderstood context alchemy is seen, as turning "lead into gold." When deeply understood alchemy is finding the value within something that is presumed not to have such value (Kinchelow, 2011). Crystallization provides value for the qualitative management researcher yet if this explorative approach is not fully understood it can look simplistic and a justification to "do as you please." The alchemy of crystallization however, is a complex journey of enriched discovery. An alchemist understands the first step of the crystallization journey is the understanding of "the self" before going out to understand the surrounding world. This alchemy is essential for the journey of the qualitative management researcher in seeking rigor. Crystallization centers on understanding the research and researcher position to intimately view the process with an openness that allows discoveries to unfold that would otherwise be lost. The call for this uptake of boundary spanning through crystallization moves through and along the qualitative continuum in the quest for deeper and richer understanding to advance social construction (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011; Ellingson, 2011, 2014). We open this conversation to qualitative management researchers and present the conceptual argument for crystallization as an approach to rigorous qualitative management research (QMR).

The alchemy of crystallization and its implications for richer insights with greater rigor begins with background literature to show the usage of crystallization through philosophical foundations and background that leads into aspects of implicit practice and ensuring rigor. Conceptually the idea of importing crystallization into mainstream QMR is developed through the significance of the researcher as the primary tool with the metaphor of the bricoluer or alchemist building a bricolage. To provide authority and guidance to the development of rigor we stress the use of trustworthiness and credibility. By scanning the QMR literature, we position crystallization as an alchemic or transformational approach. The alchemic nature of crystallization needs time, effort, commitment and passion so it is not an ontological or epistemological means for the qualitative researcher wanting a quick method. It is the qualitative management researcher's alchemic abilities that need to be developed if a richer form of QMR is to emerge. Crystallization is not the practice of a "fool and a wand" working the magic of illusion that is evidenced through discipline aligned literature. …

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