Qualitative Research in IB


Qualitative Research in International Business, Special issue of Journal of International Business Studies, Edited by Rosalie L. Tung, Julian Birkinshaw and Mary Yoko Brannen; Deadline 18 Sep 2009

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Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies

Special Issue Editors:

Rosalie L. Tung (Simon Fraser University, tung@sfu.ca)
Julian Birkinshaw (London Business School, jbirkinshaw@london.edu)
Mary Yoko Brannen (San Jose State University/INSEAD, branne_m@cob.sjsu.edu)

Deadline for submission: September 18, 2009
Tentative publication date: Spring or Summer 2011


This special issue seeks to shape the future direction for qualitative research in the field of international business. Our purpose is to showcase high-quality qualitative studies, to encourage debate on the merits of various approaches to qualitative research, and to help build a common understanding of the appropriate standards for publishing qualitative research in JIBS and other leading journals. We seek original research contributions that are informed by qualitative research methods, as well as manuscripts that address the value, the methods, or the potential of qualitative research in international business.

Special Issue Theme

Over the past two decades, quantitative methods have come to dominate the field of international business research. This state of affairs mirrors the broader trend towards more sophisticated empirical methods in the social sciences. It is driven both by the gradual maturation of the field of international business and by the norms propagated within our own academic community that typically equate quantitative data with "hard science".

While there are clear merits associated with quantitative methods, the multi-cultural, multi-dimensional and dynamic nature of the field of international business lends itself to many different research methodologies – including qualitative methods. In order to understand the complexities and relative newness of some of the topics under investigation in international business, it is often inappropriate to engage in large sample studies or reductionist methods. Rather, thick description, exploratory research and comparative analysis that focus on theory building and hypotheses generation, to cite a few approaches, may be more suitable. Indeed, many of the landmark studies in international business, such as Chris Bartlett and Sumantra Ghoshal’s Managing across Borders and E.T.Hall’s Silent Language, were built explicitly around qualitative insights.

There is a great deal of awareness of the merits of qualitative research methods in international business, and recently there have been some attempts to bring it closer to the fore (e.g. Marschan-Piekkari and Welch’s Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for International Business). Despite the efforts of some scholars and journal editors, the number of articles in leading journals using qualitative methods continues to fall. We would like to reverse this trend and use this Special Issue to bring qualitative methods back into the mainstream of international business research.

Topics for the Special Issue

In this Special Issue, we hope to showcase exemplars of various forms of qualitative research that advance our understanding of international business phenomena. Qualitative research encompasses a diversity of methods that includes, but is not limited to, single or multiple case study, ethnographic/field studies, unobtrusive observations, interviews, narrative analysis, participant observation/action research, grounded theory practice, and archival analysis of documents and texts.

Some topics suitable for inclusion in the Special Issue include:

  • Original research contributions that use qualitative methods in an effective way.
  • Examples of how to use multiple case studies as a way of deductively testing strong constructs induced from base ethnographies in international business research.
  • Qualitative studies used to triangulate uncertain or "squishy" quantitative results.
  • Exemplars of the Constant Comparative Method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) as praxis (dialogue between practice and academe) used to build theory in IB.
  • Exemplars of rigorous theory induction in IB to build strong constructs and testable propositions.

The Special Issue Editors have intentionally kept the above list of suggested topics short so as to stimulate creativity and thereby encourage prospective authors to adopt a variety of perspectives in approaching this subject. All submissions must fit within the domain statement of the journal and follow the JIBS policy statements including the Statement of Editorial Policy, Instructions for Contributors, Style Guide and Code of Ethics; see: http://www.jibs.net.

Submission Process

All manuscripts will be reviewed as a cohort for this Special Issue. Manuscripts must be submitted in the window between September 1 and September 18, 2009, at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jibs. Please select the option from the special issue drop-down menu on Manuscript Central that identifies your paper as a submission for the "Qualitative Research & IB" Special Issue, and include the words "Qualitative Research and IB Special Issue Submission" on your title page. All submissions will go through the JIBS regular double-blind review process and follow the same norms and processes. As manuscripts are accepted for publication, they will be posted in the Advance Online Publication system on http://www.jibs.net.

For more information about this Call for Papers, please contact the Special Issue Editors or the JIBS Managing Editor (managing-editor@jibs.net).