What a Business Pro Needs Know about Qualitative Methods of SocSci Research

Course Number
DYNM 668 001
Course Code
Course Key
Non-DYNM students must complete a course permit request: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/dynamics/course-permit
Primary Program
Course Note
DYNM Category: DE; DYNM Concentration: LMC
Course Description
Are you trying out a new product? Piloting a new program? Do you need to betterunderstand the "how's" and "why's" behind large-scale trends in performance, customer satisfaction, and/or employee productivity, or workplace satisfaction? Organizations and human behavior are dynamic and fluid structures; qualitative methods offer a way of exploring issues that occur in-situ, revealing the latent complexity of the day-to-day forces that impact the multiplicity of opinions, attitudes, intentions, and beliefs that exist within professional roles, as well as the diverse social and cultural contexts that steer relations within and outside of companies, agencies, and related professional domains. The course is intended as an introduction to qualitative methods for business professionals with a focus on ethnography, formal and semi-structured interviewing, and focus group methodology. It will function as a workshop not a lecture class. The social role of the researcher, the ethics of research, and qualitative methodology will be addressed. When introducing qualitative approaches, we will place particular emphasis on how to create interview guides and other qualitative protocols, analyze empirical data, and build theory (often from the ground up). Importantly, students will develop a comprehensive literature review, research questions, data and methods sections, and relevant findings and implications based on their selected topic. Students may choose either to conduct a piece of original research OR produce a comprehensive project proposal that clearly details a plan of future work. Therefore, from the get-go, you should be thinking about the development of your project--where you will do your field work, your research questions, and the professional significance of your study. Qualitative research provides professionals the potential to adopt a critical and reflexive view about the social world of business and its core processes. In the first part of the course we will spend time reading about and discussing the "how tos" of doing qualitative research (e.g. participant observation, interviewing, and focus group research) in professional settings as well as the role of the researcher, rapport and sampling. We will also read relevant ethnographies and case studies from experienced qualitative researchers. Students will then determine which methodology best addresses the issue(s) and/or problem they plan to study. For the second part of the course, students will complete their research and informed consent protocols. In addition, students will determine the location of their field sites, acquire access, and formalize their research questions and study objectives. At this point, students will enter the 'field' and begin their research. Your research involves spending time at your chosen site observing, writing field notes, conducting interviews, and analyzing your data. During class, we will take up the questions and problems that emerge in doing field research. It is expected that you come to class prepared to share your own experiences and support your classmates in their endeavors. The last part of class will focus on student presentations of their research. In addition to writing a final paper on your research, you will make a 15-20 minute presentation to the class on the last day of class.
Subject Area Vocab