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Using triangulation to validate

themes in qualitative studies

Validate themes
in qualitative

Karsten Jonsen
Department of Research and Development,
International Institute for Management Development,
Lausanne, Switzerland, and


Karen A. Jehn
Social and Organizational Psychology, Leiden University,
Leiden, The Netherlands
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide instructional guidance on how to increase validity
and reduce subjectivity in qualitative studies, such as grounded theory. The paper also demonstrates
how different techniques can help management research by including informants/managers in a time
efficient way.
Design/methodology/approach This paper describes how three complementary triangulation
methods can be used for validation and exploration of concepts and themes in qualitative studies. Tree
graphs, concept mapping, and member checking are applied in a managerial case study,
complementing a conventional grounded theory approach.
Findings The paper suggests that naturalistic inquiries, such as grounded theory and thematic
analysis, can use mixed methods and multiple sources and coders in order to offset biases and to
validate and sort findings. The case study presents three different perspectives on how an
organization comprehends diversity as a strategic issue.
Originality/value The paper suggests a mixed methods design that addresses some of the
potential shortcomings often found in grounded theory and other qualitative studies, their theory
development and their documentation of processes. It positions the approach over the range of the
triangulation literature and it argues that it is important to be aware of different triangulation
mindsets, and these they are not necessarily contradictory.
Keywords Qualitative research, Management research
Paper type Case study

Subjectivity accompanies all data interpretation (Greene and McClintock, 1985; Jick,
1979) and even before interpretation, such as aggregation of data (McGrath, 1982). A
typical form of subjectivity, embedded in many thematic analysis and grounded theory
studies, appears in a recent study in the Strategic Journal of Management, which
stated: [. . .] our interpretation of how 54 words [generated from textual analysis] could
be placed into conceptual categories [. . .] and the naming of these (Nag et al., 2007,
p. 938).
The authors are deeply grateful to the following scholars for providing valuable insights,
guidance, inspiration, or constructive critiques of previous versions of this paper: Susan
C. Schneider, Martha L. Maznevski, Lindred Greer, Mary Yoko Brannen, Willem Smit, Karin
Oppegaard, Jeanny Wildi, Sonja Rispens, Anand Narasimhan, John Weeks, Sebastien Point,
Karen OReilly, Veronique Mottier, and two anonymous reviewers.

Qualitative Research in Organizations

and Management: An International
Vol. 4 No. 2, 2009
pp. 123-150
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/17465640910978391



We seek to demonstrate in this paper how complementary techniques can help to

minimize this form of subjectivity, by involving managers in the development and the
sorting of concepts and categories. We seek not to eliminate subjectivity as such, but we
focus on describing a systematic process for integrating multiple methods in order to
offset researcher biases, decrease process distortions (Greene and McClintock, 1991), and
increase validity of the findings (Scandura and Williams, 2000) in the analysis of
qualitative studies. We hope to achieve this and make a contribution by using an
integrative triangulation approach, where we tackle different steps of the process of
theory development in grounded theory and related qualitative methods. This is
important because a case study, for example, becomes strong and convincing if the
resulting theory or findings at least fits that one dataset perfectly (Borgatti, 2008).
Our key objective is to provide instructive guidance for how to give (some) qualitative
methodologies higher credibility, convincability, and validity a discussion that is
often neglected in qualitative research and it has been argued to be especially relevant
for international management studies (Andersen and Skaates, 2004). It is important in
qualitative research to articulate explicitly how practices transform observations into
results, findings and insights (Gephart, 2004), yet researchers often restrict their
methods explanation to the bare minimum (Zalan and Lewis, 2004). When reviewing
qualitative papers, for example, grounded theory, we often end up asking the question;
how did the researcher arrive at these concepts? (as oppose to a different set of concepts)
and how did the researcher arrive from the concepts to the final model, aggregated
dimensions or theory? (as oppose to different models, dimensions or theories based on
the same data). These questions are often prevalent even when we read excellent and
frequently cited studies, such as Ely and Thomas (2001); how did the authors arrive from
the data to the concepts and further on to the aggregated dimensions? We realize that an
acceptance of researcher subjectivity and meaning construction can over-ride these
concerns, and that methodological rigor can help a long way. We also realize that,
sometimes, explanations and documentations are provided in a separate process.
Nevertheless, we acknowledge the frustration that many scholars have, insofar that
there are missing guidelines and structure for how to conduct and write up the processes,
findings and theories (van Maanen, 1998) unlike more established universal rules for
hypothesis testing and inferences of software aided quantitative methods, being
regressions, hierarchical linear modeling, or structural equation modeling.
The phenomenon, we studied is how an organization considers diversity as a
potential strategic issue. We had the opportunity to study (describe and interpret) a
naturally occurring and contemporary event as it happened and where the emerging
theory was transparently observable (Pettigrew, 1988). The capturing of managerial
discussions of diversity as a strategic issue, called for innovative use of methodology
whereby multiple sources and coders/sorters help capturing the most essential
information in a time-efficient way, increase a case studys validity and reliability
(reliability being a prerequisite for validity), and minimize the investigator effects such
as researcher bias. The problem we address here is particularly relevant in managerial
studies where contemporary issues and fast-changing decision-making environments
open only a short window for studying fleeting moments, and access to (decisive)
sources can be limited, let alone investigator resources. Thus, we aim to remedy the
extensive time efforts core to ethnographic traditions and interpretive methodologies
by showing techniques that have the capacity to involve actors/managers in a relative

short period of time. We agree with scholars such as Currall and Towler (2003), and
respond to their call, insofar as mixed methods present an appropriate way forward in
dealing with these challenges.
Consistent with our ontological and epistemological stance, and the managerial
nature of the issue under investigation, the methodology incorporated contemporary
interpretive approaches applied for example by Gioia et al. (1994), Isabella (1990), and
Jehn (1997); thematic analysis (Aronson, 1994; Kets de Vries and Miller, 1987);
multidimensional scaling (MDS) models (Jackson and Trochim, 2002); and ethnographic
decision maps (EDM) (Axelrod, 1976). Ultimately, this study design was chosen in order
to best answer the research question and to address the goals of subjectivity reduction,
validity increase and documentation of the process.
Adaptation of the methodological approach, such as this, has been recommended by
several authors; for example Locke (2001), who stated that researchers selectively
integrate the logic and practices of other qualitative research styles. Indeed, Eisenhardt
and Graebner (2007) stressed the importance of the combination of rigor, creativity, and
open-mindedness. In essence, the key to systematic development lies not in the
application of any single technique but in the creative and imaginative pursuit of an
elusive truth (Post and Andrews, 1982) which is close to the world of objective reality
(Johnson et al., 2006). It is noteworthy that the terminology of truth is troublesome for
many nonpositivistic researchers and it has been considered damaging for qualitative
theory building itself (Gioia and Pitre, 1990, p. 587). These authors suggest instead the
terminology of searching for comprehensiveness stemming from different
This paper starts with a review of the triangulation literature and a discussion of
the methodological assumptions, epistemology and challenges pertinent to grounded
theory and this study. Following a brief description of the issue under investigation,
which serves as an example for the methods discussions, the mixed methods and
procedures that were applied are delineated for the study, in particular the grounded
theory approach and each of the triangulation techniques tree graphs, concept
mapping, and member checking are presented. Finally, the paper discusses the
methods applied in relation to the objectives and our assumptions. We position our
approach within a range of triangulation mindsets, reflected from the literature review,
and discuss how these techniques can be applied in order to satisfy a broader purpose
than the one of validation.
Triangulation: definition and literature overview
Triangulation is defined as the combination of methodologies in the study of the
same phenomenon (Denzin, 1978, pp. 294-307 see also Erzberger and Kelle, 2003),
for an overview of triangulation as a methodological metaphor. Denzin later adjusted
his position on triangulation to favor sociologists going beyond the personal biases
that stem from single methodologies (Flick, 1992). We have for the major parts of this
paper adopted a classic view on triangulation speaking to convergence of methods
producing more objective and valid results. However, we are not fundamentally
opposing subjectivism and we will elaborate on the value of more open and enriching
approaches in the discussion section. This will also, conceptually, address Denzin and
Lincolns (2005, p. 5) contemporary approach to triangulation as an alternative to

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in qualitative



Originally, triangulation was a military term from navigation, which uses multiple
reference points to locate an objects exact position (Smith, 1975). Crystallization is
another term for using multiple sources, not in order to verify (in case there is no truth
[. . .]) but rather to crystallize. In essence, there is no standard definition of triangulation
and what it should cover (Bogdan and Biklen, 1998). Triangulation is conceptually
similar to Campbell and Fiskes (1959) notion of multiple operationalism with the purpose
of strengthening a studys validity. This also corresponds to the reflexive triangulation
used in ethnographic field research (Hammersley and Atkinson, 1983). The essential
assumption is that the validity of inquiry findings is enhanced, when two or more
methods that have offsetting biases are used to assess a given phenomenon, and the
results converge or corroborate (Greene et al., 1989; Scandura and Williams, 2000). In sum,
triangulation is supposed to support findings by showing that independent measures of it
are in agreement or, at least, it should not contradict them (Miles and Huberman, 1984).
Triangulation has been recommended to become the researchers way of thinking
(Carney, 1990), which includes a constant, habitual cross-check on theories, explanations,
methods, data, informants, and the researcher him or herself. The best tests of validity
can be whether other scholars find the results illuminating (Post and Andrews, 1982), but
often the investigators claim to validity rests on a judgment (Jick, 1979).
The most discussed type of triangulation refers to the use of multiple methods in the
examination of a social phenomenon (Denzin, 1978, pp. 294-307). Thus, although
triangulation can take place throughout a research design, we focus here on the
triangulation that is related to analysis. Traditionally, there are several overriding
purposes of triangulation (Denzin, 1978; Miles and Huberman, 1984; Morse, 1989; Munhall
and Boyd, 1993). The primary purpose is to eliminate or reduce biases and increase the
reliability and validity of the study. It is worth noting that the distinction between
reliability and validity is not clear, as they can be seen as regions on a continuum
(Thurstone, 1937). According to Campbell and Fiske (1959), validity is somewhat closer to
the term triangulation than reliability is. The secondary purpose is to increase the
comprehensiveness of a study, and thus to provide qualitatively derived richness and
achieve a more complete understanding of the phenomenon under study, thus it entails
complementarity (Greene et al., 1989). The tertiary purpose is the effect of increased
confidence regarding results that triangulation brings to the researchers (Jick, 1979).
All together, a broad definition of triangulation overlaps somewhat with the
fundamental objective of mixed methods and the terms are sometimes used
synonymously (Hurmerinta-Peltomaki and Nummela, 2004). Mixed methods can serve
several purposes (Greene et al., 1989, for an overview), most noticeably triangulation,
complementarity, and guidance of further data collection and analysis. The combination
of methods often goes beyond the interpretivist paradigm and ultimately rests
on acceptance of the compatibility thesis (Howe, 1988), whereby qualitative and
quantitative approaches can be combined advantageously.
Furthermore, triangulation techniques can be divided into between-methods
triangulation and within-methods triangulation (Brannen, 1996; Brannen and Peterson,
2009; Paul, 1996). By using traditional grounded theory methodology, our study
fundamentally captured within-methods triangulation due to the usage of multiple
data collection methods, documentation of different perspectives on the phenomenon
under study, and repetition of data collection. The additional techniques, the focus of
this paper, added complementary between-methods triangulation, which is an attempt

to leverage the strengths of several methods while mitigating their weaknesses and
providing a more valid interpretation of the collected data.
Methodological assumptions
Qualitative research within management has often entailed epistemological confusion
(Prasad and Prasad, 2002) and triangulation is no exception hereof. Thus:
[. . .] the most serious problem of the methodological discussions concerning triangulation is
that the epistemological and methodological concepts are not sufficiently linked to theoretical
considerations about the nature of the empirical phenomena under investigation (Erzberger
and Kelle, 2003, p. 484).

Perhaps, this is due to a frequent negligence, not only of thought processes and
reflexivity (Johnson and Cassell, 2001), but also a lack of clarity and guidance for
describing this in ways that makes sense to the readers. This has been emphasized
frequently in relation to both qualitative studies and ethnography, for example by
Werner and Schoepfle (1987, p. 41): Ethnography and epistemology should be constant
companions. We have no magic formula for this, but acknowledge the importance of the
matter and shall attempt to describe, briefly, our thinking behind the study and its
design. This is important because it guides the researchers objectives and indicates the
boundaries to the methods chosen, and because it guides the reader to better understand
the researchers (authors) and why they went about the study the way they did.
The influence for this case study investigation into how diversity is treated as a
potential strategic issue in an organization is rooted in various research traditions,
positioned within the realist paradigm (Bhaskar, 1975). The objects of knowledge are
seen as real structures that endure and operate independently of our knowledge, our
experience, and the conditions. That is, they exist not only in the minds of the actors but
also in the objective world, and this is evidenced in patterns by which researchers can
induce the underlying constructs of social life. The realist paradigm necessitates a
methodology that enables researchers to collect and analyze available data that
transcends detail and thereby provides for the emergence and conceptualization of latent
patterns (Glaser, 1998). Grounded theory was chosen as the principal method that could
satisfy this and has been recommended as a strategy for sensemaking when a priori
theory does not exist (Langley, 1999). In brief, grounded theory is an inductive
methodology for generating new theory from data (Goulding, 2002; Locke, 2001). The
inductiveness of the study was determined by the research question for which no
existing theory offers a feasible answer (Edmondson and McManus, 2007; (Eisenhardt
and Graebner, 2007). However, the triangulation methods we propose, and have applied
to this study, seem appropriate for a variety of interpretative studies, and are thus not
linked solely to grounded theory.
A muddy field
Grounded theory has often been viewed as transdisciplinary and has been applied
across many fields of science, from its roots in the medical and nursing field
(Hutchinson, 1984; Kearney et al., 1994) to management-oriented scholars such as
Dutton and Dukerich (1991), Gioia et al. (1994), Jehn (1997), and Sutton (1987). Although
grounded theory provides a systematic process for abstract conceptualization of latent
patterns of social reality (Glaser and Strauss, 1967), its techniques are inherently

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messy (Parkhe, 1993) and it is considered a peculiar mix of subjectivity,

interpretivism and science (Denzin, 2001) with philosophical roots ranging from
positivism to constructivism (Charmaz, 2000). The subjectivity is inherited by the role
of the researcher, and Glaser and Strauss (1967, p. 251) mention explicitly the root of
all significant theorizing is the sensitive insights of the observer himself. Although
this observer-importance cannot (and should not) be eliminated, it calls for
supplementary validation if and when possible.
In this light, it is important to notice that many grounded theory studies apply
different variants of methodology. The researchers make choices as to which
methodological schools they follow, e.g. Glaserian which is considered orthodox or
Straussarian which is considered revised (for overview, see Jones and Noble, 2007),
and the way coding, categorization, and analysis are applied varies to a great extent.
This is exemplified by Sutton and Callahan (1987, p. 411) when they explicitly mention,
some variation of method was used in all stages in the research. Thus, methodological
adaptability and bricoulage of grounded theory, comes somewhat close to that of
ethnography, in which not all steps can be carefully planned (sampling is one example).
Researchers have to adjust to their environments and pragmatism is often a guiding
principle. Considering and accepting the above, we are still often left in a vacuum when it
comes to descriptions and validations (if any) of what goes on between the data
collection and the findings or so-called results.
Juggling between coding levels
For the sake of simplicity we can think of coding levels as a data reduction process. An
important question arises with regard to the transition between the coding levels.
Especially, there is little transparency in how and when authors move from one coding
level to the next (e.g. open coding to the selected second-level categories). This puzzle is
often neglected in the grounded theory research and adjacent streams of literature.
Thus, Constas (1992) concluded that the existing guidelines are general and their
applications are subject to the situational demands of a given study.
The answer may lay in the epistemological assumptions of grounded theory and the
researcher him or herself as the tool. Glaser (1978) addressed this as an issue of seeing the
prospect for a theory and has described it as a drugless trip. The drugless trip refers to
the (often frustrating) period in the coding process when the researcher turns and twists
the maze of codes from a rather mechanical exercise into a creative, sensemaking
endeavor for which there is no magic formula. One can analyze each dimension to death,
but the development of a relevant set of distinct, yet related, core categories is an
individual and imaginative process with many attempts, each time with verification
that must validate or disconfirm to which point the categories are well grounded in the
data. This theory-generating process becomes rather elastic (Jones and Noble, 2007) and,
like most mind-trips, they are hard to share! This therefore calls for the usage of
complementary triangulation methods which can help ensuring that we are indeed
capturing the right concepts and that these concepts generate the right model,
aggregated dimensions or theory; let alone methods that can help document this process.
Epistemological verstehen
Grounded theory does not have an easily recognizable research paradigm for anchoring
the several operations that constitute it (Schatzman, 1991). As a naturalistic inquiry, the

processes used in grounded theory are largely the same as in the qualitative fields of
phenomenology and ethnography (Morse, 1994), but the uniqueness is in the way the
steps are applied. For example, within grounded theory the interest is not in the stories
and narratives themselves, rather these are means of eliciting information (Suddaby,
2006), since the objective is to lift data to a conceptual level. In addition, grounded
theories rarely have interviews as their sole form of data collection (apart perhaps from
nursing studies), and the literature specifically recommends using multiple sources,
with Glasers (1978) dictum all is data in mind. This pluralistic methodological approach
together with our striving for increased credibility and validity, as well as reduced
subjectivity, places our approach within the positivistic sphere of philosophical
assumptions (Johnson et al., 2006). Not so much in the traditional sense of deductive
hypothesis testing, or quest for causality, but rather because of the reification and
atomization of facts (Bhaskar, 1989); a reduction of our knowledge to a neutral
observational language that can be verified through triangulation. An external real
world exists. Our knowledge of it is defined in terms of its usefulness to us and we can
utilize various criteria in order to determine whether a claim is meaningful. Because of
the nature of the study itself and our fundamental embracement of verstehen (perhaps
best translated as interpreted understanding), the mode of engagement could
appropriately be characterized as neo-empiricism (Johnson et al., 2006). Key personas,
especially within ethnography and anthropology such as Boas (1858-1942) and
Malinowski (1884-1942), have been categorized within the same boundaries of inductive
approaches. This relies on observation of human behavior including direct contact, as
opposed to a more indirect measurement of meaning, such as lab studies and related
deductive approaches more linked to causality and hypothesis testing (Hammersley,
1992). Moreover, the verstehen is applied, or assumed, in grounded theory when
ascribing an act meaning (Kaplan, 1964), which happens in the conceptualization and
analytical phases of the coding process.
The choice of techniques that we used had to fulfill four fundamental assumptions.
The first assumption was that the techniques had to comply with our epistemological
stance and guiding principles, in particular striving for a true representation of the
natives view (insofar that exists). The second was that the techniques had to be proven
in connection with other studies, but not limited to one particular field (such as
ethnography). The third assumption was that the techniques had to be applicable by
spending only a reasonable amount of time conducting them, in particular due to
restricted access to busy managers. This emphasized one of the fundamental principles
of interpretation whilst acknowledging and paying respect to insiders views through
extensive usage of managers feedback and involvement. The fourth assumption was
that the techniques should be able to provide alternative explanations or categorizations
in the case of non-validation, for example by providing new and overlooked concepts.
Case example: diversity in question
Workforce diversity, and the management thereof, has been characterized as a
strategic issue in the widest sense (Maxwell et al., 2001; Wilson and Iles, 1999), crucial
for economic and competitive success, and the penalty for not welcoming diversity was
considered serious already in the mid-1990s (Carnevale and Stone, 1994). Increased
globalization, changes in workforces, and increasing representation of minorities have
fueled the consideration that the diversity debate has moved beyond issues of legal and

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moral obligations to become an inevitable reality inside and outside todays

organizations (Kwak, 2003; Merrill-Sands et al., 2000). However, if diversity is indeed
such a reality, one wonders why we keep studying if heterogeneity is better than
homogeneity (Horwitz and Horwitz, 2007).
The purpose of the case study was to comprehend how diversity is considered a
strategic issue. Whilst focusing on strategy implementation or effect sizes, most
investigations have neglected both the strategy formulation and many of the contextual
issues. Thus, we often take for granted that diversity is a strategic issue, but for many
companies, in particular outside North America, the decision is not so clear cut. Many
European organizations are in the midst of discussions with half of companies having no
diversity policies or active diversity management (European Commission, 2005). In fact,
Joshi and Roh (2008) have questioned the relevance of existing research on diversity. The
authors claimed that research has not been market-oriented enough and that the
overall mandate for diversity in organizations may come under threat.
Strategic issues can be defined as events, developments, or trends that are perceived
by decision makers as having a major impact on their organization and its performance
(Ansoff, 1965; Dutton et al., 1983); the term often refers to developments or events that
have not yet reached the status of a decision event (Dutton and Duncan, 1987). We
focused on diversity as a potential strategic issue for several reasons. First, diversity
has the potential to have a major impact on a firms performance (Catalyst, 2004).
Second, there has been a growing tension between the promise and the reality of
diversity in team process and performance, and scholars have warned that this has
serious implications for the credibility of the field, for future adoption by practitioners,
and for future theory building (Jayne and Dipboye, 2004; Joshi and Roh, 2008; Mannix
and Neale, 2005). Third, the organizational discussion and interpretation stage of
diversity prior to decision making has not been covered well, if at all, by previous
research. In essence, what is needed is to take a step back and look at some of the
discussions leading to choices, rather than focusing on the choices themselves. The
relevance of this perspective is supported by Westley (1990), who argued that we pay
far too much attention to strategic choices than to the conversations shaping them.
Methods overview
The guiding principles for this study were rooted in a position of philosophical
pragmatism (Howe, 1988) which favors methodological appropriateness, as advocated
by Patton (1990) and others, in order to seek the best match to the intended evaluation
users information needs. Pragmatism has often been viewed as a philosophy
underpinning mixed methods (Greene and Caracelli, 2003; Maxcy, 2003). Moreover,
and in practical terms, the guidance was especially centered around:
Aggregation of data following well-explained studies (such as Beck, 1993; Gioia
et al., 1994; Hutchinson, 1984; Isabella, 1990; Kearney et al., 1994), a procedure
that has been recommended by several, e.g. van Maanen (1998, p. xxv),
examples must be our guide.
A humble, non-superior perspective that respects and tries to articulate the
informants views and their subjective understanding at their level of meaning
(Geertz, 1973; Gioia et al., 1994).
Whats going on here? in the eyes of the researcher as participant-observer.

The last point is applied without compromising the respect for the sensemaking
experience of the insiders, which might happen when engaging in too deep-level
subjective interpretations. The study design with its methods choice is an attempt to
support these principles.
Data were collected from multiple sources (Appendix 1) in a European-based
petrochemical company, with 5,000 employees, called Polypo (surrogate name). The
organization was studied for a period of 12 months, and the researchers identity was
known to all participants known as overt research (OReilly, 2005). One of the
authors, as observer and participant-observer, used several primary and secondary
sources, specially structured interviews with managers, textual analysis of reports and
documents, listening and observing and task-force observation-participation. The task
force, who effectively became the issue sellers, had six months to work on the
assignment, Does Polypo need a diversity strategy?
The individual interviews with a cross-section of managers were centered on
diversity awareness, meaning, and benefits. The coding was ultimately condensed into
24 concepts that represented the arguments and logics that were used in the diversity
discussions. These concepts were validated by asking each top manager to draw tree
graphs of questions related to the subject matter. Subsequently, the concepts were
sorted into a few categories by the researcher following grounded theory. These
themes were validated by asking a sample of managers from the case study
organization (thus, multiple source coders) to sort them. This provided one single
framework of three categories, which was positioned and interpreted by comparing it
to the relevant literature pertinent to this study and its objectives. This framework was
validated collectively by the top management team (TMT).
In combination, the methods applied can be categorized as concurrent
triangulation design (Creswell et al., 2003, p. 229), which uses different methods to
confirm, cross-validate, or corroborate findings within a single study. The trilogy of
validation techniques that make up our triangulation, in combination with the
grounded theory approach, will be accounted for in more detail in the following
sections. These techniques are tree graphs, concept mapping, and member checking.
Conceptually, they correspond somewhat to contend-related validation, interpretive
validation, and theoretical validity (Johnson and Turner, 2003, for an overview). They
also serve the purpose of easing the classic pain of grounded theory and ethnographer
researchers to convey convincingly how the interpretation process takes place, i.e. from
field notes and thick descriptions to inferences (Curall and Towler, 2003).
Arriving at concepts
The categories (Table I) were formed by a total of 24 concepts that pertained to the
same phenomenon (Corbin and Strauss, 1990), and they became more abstract (higher
level) than the concepts they represent. They were developed and pattern-coded
following, for example, Miles and Huberman (1994) and van Maanen (1979) for
first-and second-order coding (sometimes referred to as selective or theoretical coding).
As an illustrative example, see Corley and Gioia (2004), in which a number of
second-order themes aggregated into three dimensions.
The result of this analysis (Table I) has yielded three categories (taxonomies) that
indicate different considerations and the bedrock of the diversity discussions: the
instrumental perspective, the integration perspective, and the normative perspective.

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Enhancing quality
Decision making and
Creativity and innovation

Market and customer


Aging workforce
Talent and recruitment

Values and principles


Anticipated difficulties

Table I.
Data structure and
representative quotations

Better reaction to a multi-cultural world

A pre-requisite for further globalization
We benefit from capturing the full potential of the workforce if it is
diversely composed. You are better prepared to run business in an
international, multicultural environment, you are better prepared for
changes in the environment and you are more flexible to adapt to new
situations or needs
Recognizing and valuing diversity as a resource for the organization
to create a competitive advantage and increased adaptability
Diversity is about [. . .] and ways of working to enhance the quality
and outcomes of our work
Benefits are clear it will enhance the quality of work
I believe it leads to better performance, decisions [. . .]
What is the impact and what are the numbers
Studies show that diverse teams accomplish better results than
homogeneous teams
A diverse staff profile will enhance [. . .] the creation of ideas and
Different approaches will result in greater innovation, more creative
Nationality diversity only exist at aggregated level, especially RandD
is lacking innovation
Increasingly diverse workforces are required to understand and
respond to the needs and aspirations of increasingly diverse
Anticipating and Responding to Customer Needs Market
Diversity as a broader topic is only recently on the agenda, and very
much needed in view of the age profile of the organization
Age will be a problem when retirement boom
We need a richer source of talent
Managing diversity has become an agenda point due to changing
workforce demographics, and a challenge for international
corporations across Europe and the world to seek the best talent
Business case can be either in the pocket or supporting values and
We have examined Borealis values, people principles and strategy to
determine in which areas management of diversity could be of benefit
to Borealis
Link diversity with existing values
We will build on our successes in the past
We can learn from other companies, so we get the late mover
Not yet enough discussion among people, and not yet an issue
Take a look at the board of directors
Senior management guys dont have great listening skills when it
comes to women. They think of them as mothers and wives
Stimulate it, but dont force quotas
Today in control room bunkers there are only mens toilets
Prejudice and bias people need training to understand and became
aware of its bias



Conflict avoidance
Previous initiatives

What else is going on

Industry norms

What other companies do

Legal compliance

In our culture it will be a long way to go to implement diversity in a

right form
White males are threatened
It should be stated clearly as goal and promoted, but it shall not be a
target and be measured
Do not push diversity. It is often seen as a threat
Diversity is good but not at any price
We have carefully reviewed core high level documents (Polypo
strategy, Values, People principles) to define which key challenges
Polypo face in the future and where diversity management could make
an impact
The only way a [diversity] focus can be defined would be through our
existing strategy
If we are to go ahead, wed do a full Monty, thus full time Diversity
mng. position maybe with a link to another initiative LCD (late career
Main issue is to get it anchored into the organization
In a way a firm decision on it is postponed in order to integrate with
other and coming initiatives
With the aim to avoid unnecessary conflicts
Our conflicts mostly avoided
There was no initial business case. John [CEO] believed in it. There
were statistics out there that could have made a good business case
but it wasnt needed to begin with
This [safety] started as the CEOs initiative, it makes a hell of a
positive difference for the implementation
On the business side it rings in way low on the list of things we need
to do, and other things are going to be far easier to implement
They all see the importance of the issue but they do not rank this as a
number one issue
We cannot tackle everything at the same time
A web-search has been performed by the project group to get a more
detailed overview of how diversity is addressed in companies within
the chemical/polyolefin industry
Polypo has a low degree of gender diversity which is characteristic for
the industry. The industry is clearly male dominated, both in
management and production environments. Also age diversity follows
the industry
Were not worse off than any other company or industry
The companies interviewed, Shell, Hewlett-Packard and Honeywell,
were selected with focus on who are already leaders in diversity
today and who are working in the same or similar industry
Another woman Another American. Why does it always have to be
American Ladies leading diversity initiatives
Polypo does not discriminate in employment opportunities or
practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age,
disability, or any other characteristic protected by law
Corporate compliance to legal imperatives for diversity is also of
Only question from other ExBoard members was about the legal

Validate themes
in qualitative

Table I.


Good citizens



Social responsibility



Table I.

There is a moral obligation to it [diversity] [. . .]

Society expects all institutions and organizations, to provide equal
opportunities for visibly distinct individuals and to increase their
organizational representation
Work on respect, fairness and tolerance
To bring people of diverse backgrounds and interests together in
ways that provide fair and equitable opportunities
Ensuring that employees are rewarded fairly and equitably for their
contribution to the organization. Fair and equitable rewards include
not only salaries, but also opportunities for training and career
development and the provision of a work environment in which all
employees are treated with respect
Fair selection decisions based on merit
I became aware [of diversity] in connections with internal discussions
about Social Responsibility and Corporate Governance
There are the social benefits that most organizational leaders value
Signal to outside World that Polypo is an innovative company with
very high ethic and social ambitions, which is also in line with our
policy by the way
Ethics training could be the host of diversity initiatives
Why not yet [diversity]; there was equality concept in surrounding of
Scandinavian countries. It was emphasized unconsciously. No
discrimination of gender
There is no discrimination in recruitment and selection as the people
are hired based on their ability and merit. Therefore, Polypo promotes
equal opportunities in employment regardless of a persons sex,
marital status, race, color, ethnic or national origins

A qualitative data analysis tool, Nvivo, was used to facilitate the data reduction and
coding procedures.
Looking for categories: the researchers drugless trip
The objective of the latter part of the analysis was to aggregate the codes into
significantly fewer second-order concepts, and hereafter divide these into a few
categories (themes). Categories have been defined by Rosch (1978) as cognitive
classifications that group objects, events, and the like with similar perceived attributes.
This definition is important for several techniques applied in this study, but in particular
because they are considered the cornerstones of theory generation. Categories can also
stem from the analysts insights to explain what is going on, or they can be inspired by
the literature (Strauss and Corbin, 1998).
The drugless trip refers to the period in the coding process when the researcher
turns and twists the maze of codes from a rather mechanical exercise into a creative,
sense-making exercise for which there is no magic formula, as mentioned earlier. Yet,
process guidance from the grounded theory literature was followed, i.e. coding families
and constant comparisons.
The categories in Figure 1 have emerged as overarching themes from the coding
process, the drugless trip and the concept-sorting by the managers; they constitute the
outcome framework. The analyst must look for these from the very beginning when
coding data; key categories (or main themes) are already formed from an early phase,

Instrumental perspective

Integration perspective

What problems can it solve?

(e.g. fight for finding talent)
Can we profit from it?
What is the ROI?
Can we gain competitive edge?
Is there a good business case?
(e.g. innovation; market mirroring)

How does it fit with who we are?

How does it fit with our values?
How does it fit with what else is
going on in the company?
Does it support existing strategy?
What else can we bundle it with?
Can is disturb our equilibrium?
Will it create conflicts?

Diversity is a
strategic choice

Validate themes
in qualitative

Normative perspective
What is expected from us?
Will it make us better corporate
Is it a moral obligation?
What do other companies do
(especially in our industry)?
What is the social judgment?
What are the legal requirements?

but only later is it verified which ones are cored out (Glaser, 1978). This is not a
straightforward task. It is about playing one analytic scheme against another to see
what best captures the essence of what the research is about, or, phrased differently,
One must choose among them which best captures the whole shebang (Corbin and
Strauss, 1990, p. 14).
The framework, with its core categories, is well anchored in the sources used for this
study. It basically constitutes a response to the question: what is the main analytical
idea in the research? (Corbin and Strauss, 1990), and the researcher is supposed to be
able to derive from it the findings of the study in a few sentences: when an organization
considers workforce diversity as a potential strategic issue, it uses three distinct lenses:
the instrumental, the integration, and the normative.
The main categories are not mutually exclusive and relate to each other in the
process. The categories have not been analyzed as predictors or conditions of long-term
success (Ely and Thomas, 2001). That is, the categories summarize the important
arguments and logics from the interpretation and consideration leading to a decision;
they are not intended to serve as independent variables in a cause-effect model or as
correlations to implementation success or sustainability of initiatives. This work
therefore differs fundamentally in purpose from key studies in corporate social
responsibility and diversity, such as Weaver et al. (1999), Ely and Thomas (2001), and
Wentling (2004).
Triangulation technique I: using tree graphs to triangulate concepts
One method chosen for this study in order to reduce subjectivity (as the Nag et al., 2007,
example in the introduction alluded to), and to support the classic triangulation and
validity was the use of tree graphs. This was initiated in particular to compare
concepts from the researcher with concepts directly from managers. Tree graphs
are rooted in decision trees and cognitive maps; a cognitive map is designed to capture
the structure of a persons causal assertions and to generate the consequences that

Figure 1.
Framework for
consideration of diversity
as a potential strategic



follow from this structure (Axelrod, 1976). Several authors recommend combining the
techniques of grounded theory and EDM or schema analysis (Conrad, 1982; Miles and
Huberman, 1994; Ryan and Bernard, 2000) and it has been applied in a few significant
studies (Jehn, 1997). The method is also in line with the quest for taking the emerging
codes/categories/concepts and asking questions subsequently, including analysis
(Wilson and Hutchinson, 1991). For example, Gladwin (1976) validated her decision
model work by expanding her sample and matching the combined models of the two
While observational data can be regarded as microanalytical glimpses of short
periods of activity, the tree graphs provide perhaps a more sensemaking picture of
what is going on, seen from the point of view of the actors themselves the decision
makers as opposed to the researcher. Thus, the tree graph technique can help
counteract the subjectiveness effect of the researcher that is inherently embedded in
observation techniques and interpretation. Axelrod (1976) states that its strength is to
employ the concepts of the decision maker who is being predicted, rather than the
concepts of the person who is doing the predicting. This principle also corresponds to a
recommendation from Barton and Lazarsfeld (1972) to present as clearly as possible
the respondents own definition of the situation.
The tree graphs in this study were collected from top managers, based on several
questions around the topic, in order to investigate their cognitive schemas surrounding
diversity. They were compiled with the primary purposes of identifying common
concepts (process described in Gladwin, 1989) and comparing these to the existing core
concepts as verification to the extent that they would fit in. The secondary objective
was to identify possible new (or neglected) concepts as part of the theoretical coding.
The questions for tree graphs (Appendix 2) were revised numerous times and tested
by asking a random sample of managers from other companies to fill out drafted
versions. This gave valuable feedback to the preliminary phrasing of questions. The
key learning points of the testing were the following:
Make sure the questions are so narrow, thoughtful/difficult, and perhaps even
tricky that they generate a good but limited selection of important concepts, as
opposed to long laundry lists. This was done by testing various questions prior
to the final composition.
Explain well the usage of causal arrow. A simple guidance model sheet was
developed by the author for this purpose (Appendix 3), as the literature contains
very few examples.
Results. Tree graphs were used to confirm/disconfirm the intermediary results by
matching the 24 concepts from the coding procedure (researchers labels) with the
concepts drawn by the top managers themselves, individually.
The conceptual match between the compilation (aggregation) of top managers own
concepts from questions around the subject and the core concepts of the coding
analysis ranged between 59 and 88 percent. This match was considered satisfactory,
based on typical intercoder reliability levels (where . 80 percent is acceptable and . 90
percent very good, e.g. Cohens k), as there was no interaction between coders to
resolve differences. Intercoder reliability is the widely used term for the extent to which
independent coders evaluate a characteristic of a message or artifact and reach the
same conclusion. Although this term is appropriate in its generic use as an indication

of measurement consistency, the more specific term for the type of consistency
required in content analysis is intercoder (or interrater) agreement. Intercoder
agreement is needed in content analysis because it measures the extent to which the
different judges tend to assign exactly the same rating to each object. As this exercise
was based on conceptual match, rather than ratings, a simple percentage agreement
was used.
In particular, the most central question to represent the issue under investigation
yielded concepts from respondents themselves that to a great extent matched the ones
of the coding procedure (88 percent). The question was What criteria are critical when
establishing the strategic priority of workforce diversity? 21 out of the 24 tree graph
concepts were in line with (either identical to or approximately) the 24 second-order
concepts from the coding procedure and thus supported the content of the framework.
The few tree graph concepts that were not in line with the second-order coding were
rereviewed with the literature to see to which extent they had any generic bearings.
This exercise did not attempt to confirm or disconfirm the grouping and labeling of the
three overarching categories (taxonomies), which were validated as follows.
Triangulation technique II: using concept mapping to triangulate categorization
Concept mapping was applied following the guidelines of Jackson and Trochim (2002).
Concept mapping is based on the assumption that language is the key to mental
models (Carley and Palmquist, 1992) and that we can use language as a window
through which to view managers minds (Stryker, 1980). When using this technique,
concepts are presented to a number of managers, who, according to instructions, do the
sorting. There is no pre-established category structure to which to conform, and each
sorter makes his or her own judgment about how many categories to create, what each
category contains, and what each category should be called. Concepts can be single
words or phrases (Carley and Palmquist, 1992) extracted and generalized by the
researcher. These are the units of analysis. Afterwards an aggregation of the different
inputs (concept maps) can be performed using MDS models. MDS is comparable to
other interdependence techniques such as factor analysis and cluster analysis (Hair
et al., 1998, p. 526), and the uses of perceptual mapping and MDS in particular are:
as an exploratory technique to identify unrecognized dimensions of a construct;
as a means of obtaining comparative evaluation of objects when the specific
bases of comparison are unknown or unspecified (Hair et al., 1998, p. 527).
Perhaps, most important, the MDS provides a visual representation of the pattern of
proximities. Finally, the labels given by the respondents can be used either for centroid
analysis (selecting labels from each cluster using the names given by respondents) or
for inspiration for or reflection of labels constructed by the researcher.
The specific objectives for adding this technique to the analysis were:
To explore the ideal number of categories.
To explore the insiders (managers from the case study organization) view on
how the concepts should be sorted.
To compare with the researchers own framework or model to see if there is a
match, or if other clusters emerge.

Validate themes
in qualitative



To help reflect on and potentially adjust the researchers own model or

To ensure that none of the concepts were outliers in the sense that they would
have extreme bridging values and thus be only randomly assigned to any
To get a sense from the sorters of whether the concepts were understandable
and meaningful or if obvious arguments were missing (by observing and

This methodology allowed the managers themselves to sort the concepts into
meaningful piles that could then constitute a model or a framework. Respondents are
recommended to be the subjects studied, but proxy sorters can be used when
practicalities prevent access to the natives. The methodology is in line with the
epistemological stance for this study and has a validity strength, as it allows meaning
to emerge by aggregating biases or constructions of many coders, instead of arbitrary
bias and potentially forcing the values of the researcher with a priori categories and
labeling thereof (Jackson and Trochim, 2002).
The process was applied as follows:
(1) Write the final list of second-order concepts on small index cards each card
with only one concept or idea. The concepts in this case are logics or arguments
for what is important in dealing with diversity as a potential strategic issue,
such as creativity or legal compliance.
(2) Ask a minimum of ten managers (Jackson and Trochim, 2002) from the case
company under investigation to individually sort index cards into a number of
piles of their choice (up to five) of similar statements (see Appendix 4 for
instructions). All cards had to be placed in a pile; no miscellaneous pile was
(3) Code the sorted data in a matrix and double-check for coding errors. Run the
MDS analysis, using Euclidean distances and scaling model (SPSS 14.0).
(4) Analyze the output files graphically (with two or three-dimensional plots) and
assess fit and reliability scores.
(5) Compare the findings to the objectives (listed earlier).
Results. Proximities generated a three-factor solution, as clusters were identified from
the Euclidean distance plots. Kruskal stress 0.18992, RSQ 0.85333. These levels
were considered acceptable (Kruskal, 1964) as no respondent outliers were erased, and
both test-statistics improved appropriately with an increasing number of iterations
and by increasing the number of dimensions (Hair et al., 1998, p. 557). The
two-dimensional plot in Figure 2 is an example suited for interpretation, simply
because additional dimensions significantly decrease the readability. The proximity of
the clusters represents how similar the statements in them were judged to be by the
coders. The position of each cluster on the map is not meaningful, only the spatial
relationship between them.
The basic interpretation of this kind of analysis is an emerged theory-based
representation of the categories (Jackson and Trochim, 2002). In this case, there are
three clear patterns with no evident subpatterns. The three categories are almost

Derived stimulus configuration

Euclidean distance model
Conflict avoidance
Conservative (polypo)


Anticipated difficulties



Aging workforce

What else is going on in polypo

Previous initiatives

Legal compliance
Good citizens
Social responsibility
Values and principles
What other people do (companies)
Industry norms


Validate themes
in qualitative

Talent funnel & recruitment


Market & customer understanding


Improving decision-making & performance

Creativity & innovation







Enhancing quality



identical to the framework suggested by the researcher, as they contain the same group
placement of 23 out of the 24 concepts. The one concept that had a different placement
was aging workforce, which the respondents grouped together with other internally
oriented drivers. This exercise did not attempt to validate the entire framework as an
entity, which was done as follows.
Triangulation technique III: using member checking to triangulate framework
Consistent with one of the central and most recommended triangulation techniques for
validation and credibility, the actors (managers) were presented with the theoretical
framework that resulted from data analysis and interpretation (Figure 1). Thus, the
informants acted as judges, evaluating the major findings of the study
(Bronfenbrenner, 1976; Denzin, 1978; Guba and Lincoln, 1989; Wilson and
Hutchinson, 1991). In other words, validation through informant feedback (member
checking), to ensure the credibility and consistency of the interpretation, is important
and well recognized in the literature (Goulding, 2002; Miles, 1979). It also satisfies the
validation technique from Lazarsfeld et al. (1967), and member checks have been used
very recently by Nag et al. (2007). After all, an alert and observant actor in the setting is
bound to know more than the researcher about the realities under investigation
(Blumer, 1969).
Results. The TMT verified the category framework findings collectively, during a
meeting with one of the authors. The main perspectives corresponded well to their
reality, and they made sense to them across the board. Excerpt:
Researcher: These are the three key elements that I saw you using when discussing whether
diversity is a strategic issue or not. [Researcher explained the three perspectives]. Does that
make sense to you as a conceptual model?
All: Yes. [all nodded, and subsequently these explicit issues were discussed at the meeting.]

Figure 2.
Concept sorting plot


For example, the following are selected quotes from this meeting with the top
[Diversity] is exactly what you say it is a choice.
[Diversity] has to support our strategy.


We have to look to see if [diversity] is a business imperative.

When a topic requires to be studied within a relatively short window of time, mixed
methods can help establish a more complete and valid picture of such fleeting
moments, compared to using one single method. Ethnographic traditions (Malinowski,
1922) that have been followed by some researchers in the social sciences prescribe
spending a considerable amount of time, i.e. years, studying the people or companies
under investigation (Chapman et al., 2004). This serves several purposes, such as
becoming part of daily routines in order to limit the outsiders effects on the research,
building relationships, learning to understand things like an insider (also culture and
language), and having time to add and develop new questions and guide the research
in alternative directions. In essence, anthropologists are somewhat skeptical about
more casual engagements (Peacock, 2001, p. 76). Although ethnographical principles
were followed to some extent in this study, the time spent with the company was
considerably less than that of traditional ethnographic research and recommendations.
Not out of lack of respect for thick descriptions and other ethnographical traditions,
since they can never be replaced, but rather complying and adapting to contemporary
managerial issues in a time-compressed world.
We have fulfilled the basic purpose of both triangulation (Seale, 2004) and validation
(Eisner and Peshkin, 1990), whilst remaining close to what Cho and Trent (2006) call the
transactional approach. This conservative approach represents methods whereby
informants are engaged in making sure their realities correspond with the interpretations
brought forth by the researcher. At the same time, we acknowledge that all techniques we
have applied can indeed also be used in a more transformational approach (Cho and Trent,
2006), which provides a more recursive open process, for example when member
validation is used primarily to revise the original claims of the researcher (as suggested by
Seale, 2004). The distinction is important in the literature, as it represents fundamentally
different views on triangulation, from one of pure reliability increase and validation to one
of deeper understanding and greater sophistication (Silverman, 1993).
Figure 3 shows some differences in triangulation mindsets. In a narrow classic
sense, the triangulation helps to validate existing findings. And in our case it did. By
using a more transformational mindset, triangulation can be used for enriching and
enhancing study findings. One axis represents the depths in explanations one can seek.
For example, by using tree graphs it is possible to investigate more causal
explanations to the phenomenon, that is; if x happens, this will lead to y. The other axis
represents convergence vs contradiction. For example, by using multiple sorters (and
MDS) one can imagine different models or frameworks evolving, based on the same
concepts. These differences can be looped back into the research and followed up by
further interviews or literature reviews. This approach can also reflect different groups
of people in an organization and how they see the world in, perhaps, different ways.

Validate themes
in qualitative


Explanations and causality












Level of agreement

For example, groups of employees that produce either different concepts (by using tree
graphs) or different models or frameworks (by concept sorting and MDS). Or, finally,
the member checking can be used for capturing both in depth explanations of the
phenomenon and/or providing contradicting or complementary perspectives.
Therefore, and in this studys context, we do not see these purposes as necessarily
contrasting, as often argued (Erzberger and Kelle, 2003), since an additional method in
principle can help to both verify existing findings and add complementary
perspectives or categories.
Some problems, of course, arise when a researcher finds only little convergence and
strong contradictions by applying a transformational mindset and related techniques.
As noted by (Hurmerinta-Peltomaki and Nummela, 2004), existing literature offers
only limited guidance to how the contradictory data should actually be weighted and
when the research process should end if not limited by practical considerations such
as time, money and access to organizations. While this is a direction for future
research, we hope to have sparked an interest in different methods of using
triangulation and how this may be applied in management research and case studies
by including insiders such as managers.
This paper describes how multiple methods were used, in order to produce convincing
findings of a single case study: an organization investigating diversity as a potential
strategic issue. We applied a mix of existing techniques such as tree graphs, concept
mapping, and member checking. The combination of these techniques supported the
findings and did, largely, not contradict them or reveal any other plausible rival
explanations or categorizations. Through a systematic integrated process of
triangulation techniques, we have tried to offset subjectivity and researcher bias,
and to increase validity of the findings. There is no magic stick for this (Cho and Trent,
2006), but we have engaged informants (managers) at different levels of the process in
making sure their realities correspond with our representation of the data, thus
respecting the view of the natives.
Although triangulation has been used in many different ways and for many
purposes, all to a point where the term has been accused of having no meaning at all

Figure 3.
Triangulation mindset



(Sandelowski, 2003), we believe the methodology as we have presented it by providing

practical guidance around triangulation, has great potential for qualitative researchers.
Specifically, we have tried to provide some ideas, inspiration and detailed guidance, in
particular for between-methods triangulation. We have provided an overview of the
triangulation literature and we have discussed the philosophical paradigms associated
with triangulation and the grounded theory that we applied it on. Our claim is that this
guidance can help overcome some of the barriers to the acceptance of grounded theory
as well as other thematic and qualitative approaches.
Additionally, our study contributes with means to alleviate the extensive time efforts
that classically characterize ethnographic traditions and interpretive methodologies. By
showing techniques that have the capacity to involve actors/managers in a relative short
period of time, we believe that managerial studies can be improved by applying the
proposed methods. The present approach probably contributes less to studies of more
critical, postmodern, and constructivist nature, but that was not the intension given our
epistemological and ontological stance. In fact, our reflections related to these
underlying philosophical assumptions helped us clarify objectives and boundaries
regarding our place on the positivism constructivism/postmodernism continuum.
Qualitative research is inherently multimethod in focus (Brewer and Hunter, 1989) and
the researcher is widely seen as a bricoleur (first used by Levi-Strauss, 1966) who patches
or knits pieces of information together in order to produce a solution to a problem, often
guided by the criterion of what works (Howe, 1988). The bricoleur and the knowledge, the
wisdom, and the interpretive skills he or she possesses are strongly correlated to the
outcome of a case study and the possible theory generation. Edmondson and McManus
(2007) explicitly encourage field researchers to get exposure and develop their skills by
using both qualitative and quantitative techniques in order to gain a larger toolbox and be
better able to judge what method is the most suitable for any research problem just as a
photographer changes lenses to capture different motives (analogy from Peacock, 2001,
p. 74). The researcher must not only be aware of this but also account for it as well as
possible, which we have tried. Indeed, Kuhn (1962) showed that the most important
precondition for science is that the researchers possess a wide range of practical skills for
carrying out scientific work. The mixed methods triangulation applied in this study was
nested in grounded theory, but we propose this methodological approach as a recipe for a
variety of qualitative studies. In summary, we have provided detailed guidance and
procedural suggestions for the application of triangulation techniques. We sincerely hope
that this systematic bricolage can be an important contribution to our field and that
management scholars can now take more qualitative trips in naturalistic settings.
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Appendix 1

Data collection method

Source of information

Structured interviews
Tree graphs
Archival information


Analysis and

Open interviews
Observation generic

Organizational material (policies, value

statements, etc.)
Individual group

Personal narratives


Observation specific (work group

Observation specific (presentations to Group
E-mail and shared drives
Individual group



Appendix 3. Guiding example for tree graph exercise

Tree graph - Example
Which tools do you use to get your work done?




Priority- Inform
setting people




Appendix 2. Question guideline for tree graphs

How do you know if (when) workforce diversity is a strategic issue?
What leads to immediate action regarding increased workforce diversity?
What hinders immediate action regarding increased workforce diversity?
What criteria are critical when establishing the strategic priority of workforce diversity?


Validate themes
in qualitative




Thinking Audio

Table AI.
Data collection overview


Appendix 4. Instruction for concept mapping exercise

In front of you, there are 24 index cards with logics or arguments for what is important when an
organization such as Polypo deals with diversity as a potential strategic issue. Please sort these
into piles of similar statements. Please also provide each pile with a name that most accurately
represents the statements in it (stick one post-it on top of each pile). All cards have to be
distributed; there can be no miscellaneous pile.

About the authors
Karsten Jonsen is a Research Fellow at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. His research focuses on
cross-cultural communication, qualitative methods, and cultural and gender diversity in
organizations. Karsten Jonsen is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: karsten.
Karen A. Jehn is a Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Leiden University in
The Netherlands. Her research focuses on intragroup conflict, group composition and
performance, and lying in organizations.

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