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Planning and Conducting Qualitative Case Study Research as an Outsider: Investigating Managerial Leadership in India as a Foreigner

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study describes a qualitative study conducted in India as an outsider (foreigner) investigating managerial leadership competencies of Heads of Departments in higher education institutions in the state of Kerala. The research contributed to a better understanding of how Western views of managerial leadership competencies can be applied in a non-Western context. A description of the research undertaken is presented including a description of the area of interest of the researcher. The research case study approach is described as well as specific issues to do with qualitative study. Data collection and analysis as well as limitations of the study are considered. Dealing with practical considerations is a key to any successful research and in the case study, they were identified as lack of access to networks, logistics to do with travel and accommodation, and difficulties in the collection of data during site visits. This case study also provides a reflection on how well the research was conducted and identification of issues. Some of the key points raised are practicalities, the lack of secondary data, and the role of the researcher as an “outsider.” These are discussed further in the section on lessons learned. Four lessons are emphasized: the need to understand the culture in which the research is being conducted, the benefits and issues of being an outsider and the need to minimize “outsider-ness,” the importance of preparation and planning, and the use of pilot interviews and a reflective diary as part of the research process.

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