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Qualitative Article Analysis


Qualitative research has unique characteristics that set it apart from quantitative research. The fundamental difference between qualitative research and quantitative research is the nature of the data that each of them uses. While qualitative study deals with narrative data, the quantitative study deals with numerical data. In addition to such differences, a number of differences that reflect processes, frameworks, models, theories, and procedures of research exist.

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Flick (2009) describes qualitative research as a study that commences with assumptions and theoretical frameworks, which examine a given phenomenon, and then narrows down to the procedures of data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Hence, qualitative research uses a continuum of approaches with a view of creating a comprehensive understanding of a certain phenomenon. Therefore, this research paper analyzes a qualitative research paper by examining its characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses.

Characteristics of Qualitative Study

The holistic approach is one of the characteristics that the article possesses. According to Creswell (1998), qualitative researchers strive to construct a phenomenon of interest using diverse perspectives and factors. In this view, the article has effectively constructed the concept of negative leadership by elucidating the antecedents and consequences. The antecedents of negative leadership are behavioral factors, social environment, organizational structures, resources, and processes. The consequences are destructive behavior, negative attitude, and devastating organizational outcomes. Hence, the article uses the holistic approach in elucidating the concept of negative leadership.

The use of the inductive-deductive approach is a characteristic of the article. Engel and Schutt (2005) argue that inductive-deductive logic is a complex process of reasoning that qualitative researchers apply in expounding complex themes and concepts. From the article, it is evident that inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning are central in the elucidation of the concept of negative leadership in the study.

In the article, Schilling (2009) states that the research performed inductively oriented investigation with a view of developing a theory that enhances understanding of negative leadership. Inductive reasoning is a ‘bottom-up’ approach in research that culminates in the development of the theory (George & Bennett, 2005). Hence, the article contributes to the development of the theory of negative leadership among managers.

The collection of data in a natural setting is a characteristic that is evident in the article. According to Klenke (2008), qualitative researchers seek to study and interpret a certain phenomenon in natural settings rather than in a laboratory environment. In the methodology, the article indicates that the qualitative study interviewed 42 managers, who work in a German Telecommunication Company (Schilling, 2009). The face-to-face interview is an important feature of qualitative research in natural settings because it allows researchers to probe participants and obtain valid information.

Researcher as a key instrument is a unique characteristic that defines qualitative research. Seidman (2012) asserts that qualitative researchers form part of the research instrument because the procedures of collecting data using interviews and observations are dependent on them. In the article, the researchers played a central role in the collection of data because they used semi-structured and open-ended questions. Schilling (2009) reports that “the interviewer had the task of verbally paraphrasing the statements of the interviewee” and making detailed inquiries (p. 107). Thus, the researcher was very instrumental in the qualitative study of negative leadership.

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The use of grounded theory is an apparent characteristic of the research in the article. Urquhart (2012) argues that grounded theory does not follow the normal procedure of research that begins with hypotheses as it entails analysis of data and the development of theory. From the article, it is evident that the study has no hypotheses, but has elaborated methodology and data analysis. Schilling (2009) states that the research employed grounded theory as a place-marker that identifies and outlines the phenomenon of negative leadership. Therefore, grounded theory is a characteristic of qualitative research that is visible in the article.

Allowing participants to provide meanings of the research concepts is a characteristic of qualitative research that is obvious in data collection. Patton (2002) notes that the use of open-ended questions is very important in qualitative research since participants get the freedom of providing responses freely without succumbing to interferences from researchers. Since structured questions are very restrictive, participants tend to provide responses that do not provide the intended meaning. According to Schilling (2009), the interview questions neither provided suggestively responses nor activated biased and personal views. In essence, the interview questions in the article are not leading questions, which influence responses from participants.


The strength of qualitative research is that it uses interviews, which allow the study of the complex and abstract phenomenon. As the study employed interviews in the collection of ideas and opinions concerning negative leadership, it managed to obtain numerous factors that contribute to negative leadership and thus conceptualization of negative leadership. The use of interviews is a strength because it enables researchers to probe complex issues and conceptualize them (Hatch, 2010). From the article, the researcher probed the participants and obtained enough information regarding how managers perceive negative leadership in their positions.

As a strength, the process of qualitative research is flexible to both the researchers and participants. Merriam (2009) argues that qualitative research does not restrict researchers in the collection of data. In the article, the researcher did not follow a specific pattern in data collection. Schilling (2009) agrees that the flexibility of researchers allowed the interviewees to express their opinions and ideas freely concerning negative leadership. Thus, the interviews and flexible process of the researcher are strengths of the qualitative research that are evident in the article.


One of the weaknesses of the qualitative research that is present in the article is the low reliability of the findings. Since the researcher in qualitative study forms an integral part of the research instrument, the findings have low reliability (Punch, 2005). It is extremely difficult for another researcher to conduct the same research by using the same methodology and coming up with similar findings. Bamberger (2000) asserts that the reliability of the findings is dependent on the knowledge and skills that qualitative researchers employ during the process of research. The bias of the qualitative researcher is a weakness of the study presented in the article.

As qualitative research entails the interpretation of information and conceptualization of constructs, these processes are prone to researcher bias (Barbour, 2007). In this case, the constructs and concepts of negative leadership are subject to the bias of the researcher. Gender representation is also a weakness because the researchers sampled four women out of 42 participants. This means that one can only extrapolate the findings to male managers.


Analysis of the article indicates that it has attributes that are unique to qualitative research. The holistic approach, inductive-deductive reasoning, natural settings, instrumental researcher, grounded theory, and participant’s meanings are some of the qualitative characteristics that are present in the article. Regarding strengths, interviews and the flexibility of the research process enhanced the validity of the information that interviewees provided. However, the weaknesses of the study, which the article presents, are low reliability, biases of the researcher, and gender imbalance.

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Bamberger, M. (2000). Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research in Development Projects. Washington: World Bank Publication.

Barbour, R. (2007). Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student’s Guide to the Craft of Doing Qualitative Research. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Creswell, J. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five traditions. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Engel, R., & Schutt, R. (2005). The Practice of Research in Social Work. London: SAGE Publisher.

Flick, U. (2009). An Introduction to Qualitative Research. New York: SAGE Publisher.

George, A., & Bennett, A. (2005). Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. New York: MIT Press.

Hatch, J. (2010). Doing Qualitative Research in Education Settings. New York: SUNY Press.

Klenke, K. (2008). Qualitative Research in the Study of Leadership. London: Emerald Group Publishing.

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Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation. London: John & Wiley.

Patton, M. (2002). Quantitative Research and Evaluation Methods (3rd ed.). London: SAGE Publisher.

Punch, K. (2005). Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. New York: SAGE Publisher.

Schilling, J. (2009). From ineffectiveness to destruction: A qualitative study on the meaning of negative leadership. Leadership, 5(1), 102-128.

Seidman, I. (2012). Interviewing as Qualitative Research: A Guide for Researchers in Education and the Social Sciences. Chicago: Teachers College Press.

Urquhart, C. (2012). Grounded Theory for Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide. London: SAGE Publisher.

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