QUALITATIVE METHODS CAN ENRICH QUANTITATIVE Qualitative methods can enrich quantitative research on

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Text of QUALITATIVE METHODS CAN ENRICH QUANTITATIVE Qualitative methods can enrich quantitative research on

  • QUALITATIVE METHODS CAN

    ENRICH QUANTITATIVE

    RESEARCH ON OCCUPATIONAL

    STRESS: AN EXAMPLE FROM ONE

    OCCUPATIONAL GROUP$

    Irvin Sam Schonfeld and Edwin Farrell

    ABSTRACT

    The chapter examines the ways in which qualitative and quantitative methods support each other in research on occupational stress. Qualitative methods include eliciting from workers unconstrained descriptions of work experiences, careful first-hand observations of the workplace, and participant-observers describing ‘‘from the inside’’ a particular work experience. The chapter shows how qualitative research plays a role in (a) stimulating theory development, (b) generating hypotheses, (c) identi- fying heretofore researcher-neglected job stressors and coping responses, (d) explaining difficult-to-interpret quantitative findings, and (e) providing

    $This chapter is an expansion of the paper, ‘‘Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in

    Occupational Stress Research’’ Professors Schonfeld and Farrell published in Rossi, A.M.,

    Quick, J.C., & Perrewé, P.L. (Eds.). (2009). Stress & quality of working life: The positive and the

    negative. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

    New Developments in Theoretical and Conceptual Approaches to Job Stress

    Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 8, 137–197

    Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited

    All rights of reproduction in any form reserved

    ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2010)0000008007

    137

    ischonfeld Text Box Schonfeld,I.S., & Farrell, E. (2010). Qualitative methods can enrich quantitative research on occupational stress: An example from one occupational group. In D. C. Ganster & P. L. Perrewé (Eds.), Research in occupational stress and wellbeing series. Vol. 8. New developments in theoretical and conceptual approaches to job stress (pp. 137-197).Bingley, UK: Emerald.

  • rich descriptions of stressful transactions. Extensive examples from research on job stress in teachers are used. The limitations of qualitative research, particularly in the area of verification, are also described.

    QUALITATIVE RESEARCH ON OCCUPATIONAL STRESS CAN ENRICH QUANTITATIVE

    STRESS RESEARCH

    The purpose of this chapter is to advance the idea that qualitative methods and more highly controlled quantitative methods applied to occupational- stress research, together, compared to either methodology alone, can provide a clearer picture of the stress process. Plewis and Mason (2005) wrote that quantitative and qualitative methods represent ‘‘mutually informing’’ strands of research. Hugentobler, Israel, and Schurman (1992) underlined the view that every method has weaknesses, and that by applying manifold methods to the study of occupational stress, weaknesses in one method can be compensated for by strengths in other methods. They go on to show how qualitative and quantitative methods converged in identifying the sources of stress in workers in a manufacturing firm. Qualitative research, moreover, can be useful to quantitative researchers in instrument development (Blase, 1986; Brown et al., 1986; Schonfeld & Feinman, 2009).

    Qualitative methods, particularly methods associated with grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), emphasize the emergence from data of theoretically important categories as well as hypotheses bearing on the relations among those categories. There is no dearth of literature on using multiple methods (Cresswell, 2003; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003). Smith (2006), justifying the application of multiple methodologies in educational research, pointed out that ‘‘any methodology has inherent deficiencies and fails to capture the chaos, complexity, and contextuality of applied fields such as education’’ (p. 458). We would add the applied field of occupational- stress research. Methods must fit the research questions. It is appropriate to use survey methods, for instance, when one wants to quantify variables in the occupational-stress context. To characterize descriptively the intensity of work-related stressors experienced by individual workers, however, quali- tative methods may be profitably used (Jex, Adams, Elacqua, & Lux, 1997).

    There are at least three broad types of qualitative methods that have been employed in occupational-stress research (see Tables 1 and 2). The first, and most commonly used, method involves having members of

    IRVIN SAM SCHONFELD AND EDWIN FARRELL138

  • T a b le

    1 .

    Q u a li ta ti v e S tu d ie s o f O cc u p a ti o n a l S tr es s In v o lv in g a V a ri et y o f W o rk er s

    w it h th e E x ce p ti o n o f T ea ch er s.

    P a p er

    S a m p le

    M et h o d

    K ey

    F in d in g s

    A b o u se ri e (1 9 9 6 )

    3 0 5 m a le

    a n d 1 0 9 fe m a le

    a ca d em

    ic s

    a t a u n iv er si ty

    in W a le s

    Q u es ti o n n a ir es

    co n ta in in g o p en -

    en d ed

    q u es ti o n s a b o u t st re ss o rs

    a s su p p le m en t to

    a q u a n ti ta ti v e

    st u d y

    L ea d in g so u rc es

    o f jo b st re ss

    w er e

    co n d u ct in g re se a rc h , ti m e co n st ra in ts ,

    re la ti o n sh ip s w it h o th er s, a n d fi n a n ci a l

    d if fi cu lt ie s

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    (2 0 0 8 )

    3 2 m a le

    p o li ce

    o ffi ce rs

    fr o m

    tw o

    so u th er n U .S . lo ca li ti es

    In cl u d ed

    o ffi ce rs

    cu rr en tl y

    u n d er co v er , fo rm

    er ly

    u n d er co v er

    b u t n o w

    h a v in g ro u ti n e d u ti es ,

    a n d n ev er

    u n d er co v er

    a n d

    h a v in g ro u ti n e d u ti es

    U se d a n in te rv ie w

    d es ig n ed

    to

    u n d er st a n d th e p h en o m en o lo g y ,

    o r ‘‘ li v ed

    ex p er ie n ce ,’ ’ o f p o li ci n g .

    In te rv ie w

    ti ed

    to A g n ew

    ’s (2 0 0 1 )

    st ra in

    th eo ry

    P o li ce

    o ffi ce rs

    in v it ed

    to se rv e a s

    ‘‘ co -r es ea rc h er s’ ’

    U n u su a l fo r p u re ly

    q u a li ta ti v e

    st u d y b ec a u se

    a u th o r te st s

    h y p o th es es

    (r eg a rd in g A g n ew

    ’s

    th eo ry

    o f st re ss )

    T h o se

    cu rr en tl y u n d er co v er

    sh o w ed

    th e m o st

    d ev ia n ce , d efi n ed

    a s b eh a v io r th a t if

    d is co v er ed

    w o u ld

    le a d to

    d ep a rt m en t

    sa n ct io n s

    T h o se

    fo rm

    er ly

    u n d er co v er

    sh o w ed

    a

    d ec re a se

    in d ev ia n ce

    fr o m

    p er io d co v er in g

    p re v io u s d u ti es

    to n ew

    d u ti es

    L ea st

    d ev ia n ce

    in th e o ffi ce rs

    o n ro u ti n e

    p a tr o l

    B a rg a g li o tt i a n d

    T ry g st a d (1 9 8 7 )

    6 3 m ed ic a l– su rg ic a l n u rs es

    a n d

    6 7 cr it ic a l- ca re

    n u rs es

    in a

    q u a li ta ti v e st u d y

    2 2 p sy ch ia tr ic

    n u rs es

    in

    q u a n ti ta ti v e st u d y

    N o t cl ea r b u t p ro b a b ly

    p re d o m in a n tl y fe m a le

    sa m p le

    C a li fo rn ia

    Q u a li ta ti v e in te rv ie w s to

    id en ti fy

    st re ss o rs

    a n d d es ig n ed

    to le t

    ca te g o ri es

    o f st re ss o rs

    em er g e

    fr o m

    th e d a ta

    A ls o co ll ec te d q u a n ti ta ti v e d a ta

    fr o m

    st a n d a rd iz ed

    in st ru m en ts

    C o ll ea g u e re la ti o n sh ip s w er e so u rc e o f st re ss

    ev id en t in

    q u a li ta ti v e st u d y b u t n o t in

    q u a n ti ta ti v e st u d y

    In q u a n ti ta ti v e st u d y , d if fi cu lt ie s w it h

    m a n a g em

    en t w er e th e m o st

    co m m o n

    st re ss o rs

    D if fi cu lt to

    co m p a re

    p sy ch ia tr ic

    n u rs es

    to

    o th er s b ec a u se

    ro le s in v o lv e d if fe re n t ty p es

    o f n u rs in g

    Qualitative and Quantitative Research 139

  • T a b le

    1 . (C

    o n ti n u ed

    )

    P a p er

    S a m p le

    M et h o d

    K ey

    F in d in g s

    B il le te r- K o p o n en

    a n d

    F re d én

    (2 0 0 5 )

    1 0 S w ed is h w o m en

    n u rs es

    S em

    is tr u ct u re d in te rv ie w s o rg a n iz ed

    to a ll o w

    ca te g o ri es

    o f st re ss o rs

    to

    em er g e

    S tr es so rs

    in cl u d ed

    co ll ea g u es

    a b se n ti n g

    th em

    se lv es , cr ea ti n g m o re

    w o rk

    fo r n u rs es

    w h o w er e p re se n t in

    te rm

    s o f p il in g o n

    ta sk s. A u th o rs

    re a d n u rs e p o w er le ss n es s

    in to

    th es e co n d it io n s

    S tr a in s in cl u d ed

    h ea d a ch es , st o m a ch a ch es ,

    a n d la ck

    o f en er g y

    P re se n ce

    o f co ll ea g u es

    w a s im

    p o rt a n t to

    w el l-

    b ei n g : ‘‘ It is n o t th e co ff ee , b u t th e m ee ti n g

    o th er s. O n e h a s to

    g et

    en er g y