Conducting a Grounded Theory Study

Lecturer: Lakshmi Balachandran Nair

Modality: In presence

Week 2: 19-23 August 2024


Workshop contents and objectives

Grounded theory is a methodology used by social scientists to explore, describe, and understand social phenomena from the perspectives of those being studied. This workshop is an introduction to grounded theory methodology with a ‘how-to’ practical focus. The main goal of this workshop is thus to equip students to critically read, design, conduct, and report grounded theory projects.

The students will be introduced to

  • Different types of grounded theory methodology with a predominant focus on Straussian grounded theory
  • Common features and terminologies of grounded theory methodology
  • Research process involved in a basic grounded theory study
  • Ethical considerations involved in a basic grounded theory study
  • Collection of semi-structured interview data for a grounded theory study
  • Data triangulation (e.g.: using observation data) in the context of a grounded theory study
  • Data analysis using grounded theory-based coding techniques
  • Rigor and reflexivity in the context of grounded theory methodology
  • Basics of reporting grounded theory studies


Workshop design

The workshop will include

  • Theory part
  • Practical examples and activities
  • Group work (which the students will conduct in small groups)
  • Instructions & clarification of queries

The structure of the workshop reflects the grounded theorizing process starting with the generation of a research question, research design, ethical considerations, sampling, data collection, data-analysis, and the writing of a good quality research report. 

Students are required to do a small amount of homework before each class (except for the first class, for which there is no homework). This homework includes some small readings, activities etc. Considering that this is a beginners’ workshop, there will not be an overwhelming amount of work outside the course hours. But the students can expect a small to medium workload.


Detailed lecture plan (daily schedule)

Day 1.​
- Introduction to the course
- Introduction to qualitative research
- Introduction to grounded theory, specifically Straussian school
- Literature review
- Research paradigms
- Research functions
- Purpose statement
- Research questions
- Research design
- Activities (individual & group)

Day 2.
- Sampling
- Recruitment
- Ethics
- Interviews – Sensitizing concepts, topic guides, enabling techniques
- Activities (individual & group)

Day 3.
- Transcription
- Triangulation
- Observation
- Field notes & recording
- Starting the data analysis
- Activities (individual & group)

Day 4.
- Open-axial-selective coding of the materials provided by the instructor
- NVivo
- Activities (individual & group)

Day 5.
- Results/findings
- Rigor
- Reflexivity
- Reporting
- Activities (individual & group)

* This is a tentative schedule. Minor changes might occur to the schedule, depending on the learning pace of the students and any unforeseen contingencies.


Class materials

The instructions and all the relevant materials will be circulated once the workshop commences.



Qualitative methodologies such as grounded theory have different ontological and epistemological foundations when compared to quantitative methodologies. Hence, the students attending this course should have at least a basic level of familiarity with qualitative research methodologies and their underlying philosophies.


Recommended readings or preliminary material

The list below includes some preliminary reading materials for the workshop. The reading activities which will be conducted during the course (in class and as homework) will be guided. Hence, more specific instructions and more materials will be provided once the course commences.

  • Browning, L. D., Beyer, J. M., & Shetler, J. C. (1995). Building cooperation in a competitive industry: SEMATECH and the semiconductor industry. Academy of Management Journal, 38 (1), 113-151.
  • Gioia D. A., Corley K. G., & Hamilton A. L. (2013). Seeking qualitative rigor in inductive research: Notes on the Gioia Methodology, Organizational Research Methods, 16 (1), 15-31.
  • Kaufmann, L. & Denk, N. (2011). How to demonstrate rigor when presenting grounded theory research in the supply chain management literature. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 47 (4), 64-72.
  • Nair, L. B. (2021). From ‘whodunit’to ‘how’: Detective stories and auditability in qualitative business ethics research. Journal of Business Ethics, 172 (2), 195-209.
  • Nair, L. B. (2021). To discard or to ado (a) pt? Looking at qualitative research templates through the lens of organizational routines. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 16 (2), 409-423.
  • Suddaby, R. (2006). "From the editors: What grounded theory is not." Academy of Management Journal, 49 (4), 633-642.