The Ethics of Researching Friends: On Convenience Sampling in Qualitative Management and Organization Studies

Brewis, Joanna (2014). The Ethics of Researching Friends: On Convenience Sampling in Qualitative Management and Organization Studies. British Journal of Management, 25(4) pp. 849–862.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8551.12064

Abstract

Scholarship on the ethical complexities resulting from friendships which develop with respondents during qualitative data collection is well established. There has also been consideration of the ethics of researching existing friends across various disciplines. But, although management and organization scholars use convenience samples of the latter kind in qualitative research, there is virtually no discussion in our field of the ethical implications. In seeking to rectify this, I draw on my experiences of a project where I gathered data from six friends on their experiences of and attitudes towards sexual relationships, motherhood and life–work ‘balance’. I discuss the reportage of what sometimes felt like confidences, the use of ex ante data, the objectification of participants and difficulties relating to respondent validation in order to highlight some of the ethical challenges in qualitative management and organizational research with friends.

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