Supplementing Q-method with narratives: Contextualizing CEOs' values for family firms

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Values in family firms are influenced by the complex interplay of family and business. Thus, research requires methods that grasp this complexity. This paper presents a fresh methodological approach for family business research with the example of an in-depth analysis of CEOs' value orientations. Benefits of an integrated use of two qualitative methods - Q-sorts and narrative interviews - which were collected and analyzed for 16 CEOs of family firms are illustrated. Q-method was used to build value patterns, whereas narrative interviews were conducted to reveal how values were contextualized and interpreted. This integrated approach builds qualitative richness in different ways: first, by allowing for a deep understanding of individual experience; second, by providing more contextual insight, and third, by capturing the meaning of abstract values. The approach advanced here can be reproduced for other complex organizational dynamics. Thus, this user-friendly approach is particularly suited for organizational research in a managerial environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalJournal of Management and Organization
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)270-294
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 03.2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management 2018.

    Research areas

  • entrepreneurship, qualitative methods, research methods, small- and medium-sized enterprises, values
  • Management studies