Problematising Qualitative Research in Organisations: Three voices, three subjectivities, three struggles

L. Hayes, C. Hopkinson, Alan Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: In this paper three of us illustrate our multiple subjectivities, in research and in practice which are ever shifting in context with each other. We present richness of understanding which can be revealed when we eschew consensus, certainty and easy solutions. We aim to show that plurality of ontological and epistemological approaches combined with diversity in understanding and subjective experience is necessary in qualitative research in organisations. Approach: We take a playful and incomplete narrative approach in our critical reflection on our subjectivities being silenced or ignored in organisations and in academia. We present an unsettling and ambiguous read but our aim is to question the formulaic, linear, simplistic solutions and structures evident in organisations and academia that silence uncertainty, emotions, voice and creativity through standardisation and the rhetoric of collaboration for performance enhancement. This process we have termed philosophical violence. Findings: We identify philosophical violence as a dominant theme in qualitative research, in organisational practice and within academia. In contrast, our embodied subjectivities preclude us reaching agreement or consensus too quickly, or indeed, at all. Our embodied struggles add to our understanding of ambiguity, difference, critical reflexivity and understanding, providing richness and accommodating diversity and paradox in our inquiries in our organisations. Originality/ Value: We show our struggles as hopeful and our non-collaborative collaboration as a resource from which we can individually and jointly develop new understandings of working and thus survive the philosophical violence found in organisations and in research. Honouring subjectivities is essential for rich qualitative research in organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127 - 146
JournalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Key Words: intersectionality
  • post-structuralism
  • feminism
  • power
  • queer theory
  • critical reflexivity


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