Ten empirical mixed methods articles extracted from a search of the management literature made it possible to generate a list of analytical procedures that contributed to analytic density in ways that elaborate or extend an explanatory framework. These overlap with the four strengths for using mixed methods identified by Gibson (2017): elaboration, generalization, triangulation, and interpretation. A number of procedures have been defined that can be deployed to extend analytical density and inferential validity. These include to: (1) investigate contradictory results by exploring group differences, (2) reveal the multi-dimensionality of a construct, (3) add constructs that elaborate conditions that influenced the social process, and (4) trace causation suggested by a time-ordered process.
Three additional procedures triangulated data in ways that extended gen- eralizability by confirming relationships between constructs and by pursuing hypotheses or theoretical propositions generated by one method with data from another method. My analysis of the ten empirical articles from management add to the results reported by Gibson’s (2017) by underscoring the pivotal role dissonance between data sources or between findings and existing theory played in propelling the systematic pursuit of possible explanations.
There are a wide range of implications to using an approach to mixed methods that has an iterative component. Implications extend to study design, the way mixing occurs, the purposes served by mixing, philosophical foundations, and reporting.
a. Often contain elements from core designs by combining concurrent and sequential and exploratory and explanatory phases.
b. Engagement of findings from different methods during analysis often introduces unexpected sources of dissonance that would not likely emerge in studies where data collection and analysis are de-coupled.
a. Methods are integrated at multiple points in the research process, including during analysis.
b. A principal way that integration occurs during analysis is when findings from the analysis of one source of data informs additional data collection and/or analysis of another. This type of interaction maintains the integrity of the analytical procedures associated with each method.
3. Purposes Served by Integration
a. Integration occurs in more than one way and serves more than one purpose.
4. Philosophical Implications
a. There is often a commitment to engage diverse perspectives.
b. Qualitative and quantitative methods are considered to share many qualities.
c. Interpretive approaches are awarded comparable weight in the research process.
a. The way that qualitative and quantitative analytical procedures are interlocked makes it unlikely that the phases could be reported separately.
Numerous researchers have offered templates to help those new to the field to imagine how a mixed methods study might be conducted. These can be interpreted in far more prescriptive ways than they were originally intended. To design a study carries dual meaning in that it emphasises both the importance of careful planning and on-going adaptation to the context (Hunter and Brewer, 2015) as well as to the unpredictably introduced by integration that Bryman (2008) observed. The type of original insight that leads others to thoroughly digest an unfamiliar piece of research rests on expertise, skill, and in-depth knowledge of a phenomenon but also the willingness to adapt data collection methods and analytical procedures to meet complexities encountered in the research environment. It also means following a promising lead that emerges when data analysed by different means or feedback from different constituents’ complicate matters by communicating a different story when integrated (Creamer, 2018b).
Authors who have reviewed the use of mixed methods in business and management research have questioned how familiar investigators are with the methodological literature about it. One of the consequences of this knowledge gap, especially with the terminology associated with it, makes it unlikely that than an article will ever surface in a literature search of articles using mixed methods. Researchers trying to find a way to distinguish their work and make it competitive in a methodological journal, will benefit by trolling the literature in unfamiliar academic fields for examples of original uses of mixed methods. Examples encountered can spur creative thinking, inspire ideas about how to design an eye-catching visual, and help an investigator develop a repertoire of procedures to construct a nuanced explanation for perplexing findings.
Developing methodological expertise requires reading a breadth of different viewpoints about any method. The expertise to utilise multiple approaches requires that researchers thoughtfully engage with contemporary viewpoints about qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Advancing methodological training through professional development activities, now readily available online, can promote dialogue that bridges disciplinary domains. It builds fluency with a dictionary of the terminology associated with different research methods. Diverse ways to approach mixed methods helps to build knowledge (Fielding, 2008). It contributes to the ability of researchers to develop the confidence about the potential for creativity and new insight when mixed methods are recognised as a methodology that extends well beyond the initial act of collecting qualitative and quantitative data.