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Theorizing from qualitative research in public administration: plurality through a combination of rigor and richness

Ashworth, Rachel Elizabeth ORCID:, McDermott, Aoife Mary ORCID: and Currie, Graeme 2019. Theorizing from qualitative research in public administration: plurality through a combination of rigor and richness. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 29 (2) , pp. 318-333. 10.1093/jopart/muy057

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Scholars emphasize the need for additional rigor in qualitative research. This inadvertently encourages formulaic and standardized approaches that undermine the benefits of theorizing from rich data. Our study extends debate by emphasizing the importance of sound qualitative public administration research that blends rigor with richness and thereby facilitates effective theorization. Evidence from a narrative review of 31 qualitative studies published within six leading public administration journals demonstrates that effective theorizing is linked to transparency in research design, analytic approach and theoretical contribution. In-depth interrogation of four studies that illustrate ‘inductive theorizing’ and ‘abductive theorizing’ identifies plurality in the balance struck between rigor and richness. We derive a broad set of principles that enable researchers to make a convincing ‘conceptual leap’ between data, analysis and contribution. We also emphasize the need to accommodate pluralistic approaches to theorizing by nuancing requirements for essential aspects of qualitative reporting, versus those amenable to variation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1053-1858
Related URLs:
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 August 2018
Date of Acceptance: 19 July 2018
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2024 18:44

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