Making the Case for a mixed methods design in a bourdieusian analysis of family firms

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This paper justifies a mixed methods design in a Bourdieusian analysis of SME family manufacturing firms in the UK. Despite the extensive use of Bourdieu in sociological research, there have been few attempts to apply his powerful "thinking tools" of doxa, habitus and fields (Bourdieu, 1979) to business studies. The research methodology outlined in this study adopts a fresh approach to a Bourdieusian analysis of the distinctive nature of family firms, known as "familiness" (T. M. Zellweger, Eddleston, & Kellermanns, 2010). Bourdieu used diverse research methods, including in-depth interviews, photographs and large-scale questionnaires to develop his concepts of doxa, fields and habitus. Therefore the philosophical underpinning has suggested a particular methodological design. Adopting a QUAN + QUAL approach (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 110), this paper will describe the rationale for the choice of mixed methodology, the relationship of the design to the research aim and objectives, the challenges of each research stage and the case for a mixed methods research design. The quantitative stage identifies trends and correlations between innovation and family firms in the manufacturing sector using a government-commissioned dataset. The qualitative stage is an in-depth analysis of 27 interviews with family firms, The final stage will compare and contrast the analysis from both stages to arrive at a fuller understanding of the phenomenon of "familiness". This paper will not outline the results from the study, which will be the subject of further papers. It is intended that the contribution of this study will assist family firm researchers to design effective research approaches when exploring the complex nature of family firms, Furthermore, the research design will demonstrate the case for selecting a mixed methods approach for these types of research questions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-146
Number of pages13
JournalElectronic Journal of Business Research Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2016


  • Mixed methods
  • Bourdieu
  • family firms
  • familiness
  • manufacturing
  • innovation


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