From Research Findings to New Application: Concepts & Methods

Qualitative Methods in Transdisciplinary Socio-economic
Professor Linda McKie
Case study: Policies & practices of
‘care’ in business organisations
3 year project
Conceptual background
Research design
Team from 3 disciplines
Cultural geography
Marketing & management
The Context
Socio-economic ‘contracts’:
EU Knowledge Economies
Labour market trends
IHRM trends; policies & practices
Interdependencies: economies,
business, households
Conceptual Frameworks
McKie, L., Gregory, S. Bowlby, S. (2002) Shadow Times:
The Temporal and Spatial Frameworks and Experiences of
Caring and Working. Sociology, 36, 4, 897-924.
Briefing paper. See
McKie, L., Gregory, S. and Bowlby, S. (2004) Starting Well:
Gender, Care and Health in Family Context. Sociology, 38
(3): 593-611.
Organisation Carescapes
McKie, L., Hearn, J., Bowlby, S., Smith, A. and Hogg, G.
(2008) Organisation Carescapes: Researching
Organisations, Work and Care. Helsinki, Finland: Hanken
School of Economics Working Paper
Trans-disciplinary Origins
Care is a multi-faceted term that can
combine feelings of concern and anxiety
for others alongside the provision of
practical labour and tasks that attend to a
person’s needs (Cancian and Oliker 2000:
2). Ethics, philosophy, sociology
Most discussions on care emphasise either
the social policy and welfare context; worklife balance, or organisational well-being
and occupational health (Sevenhuijsen,
1998). Business, economics social policy
Trans-disciplinary Origins
Culture refers to the beliefs of the
organisations and their symbolic and
practical representation through a
range of activities. Organisation studies,
Cultures of care; identify values (how
organisations specify what people
ought to do through policies and
practices) and norms (the rules of
behaviour that create parameters for
behaviour) (Wilson, 2001)
Exploring a conceptual
empirical research ....
Management & Business
The relevance and potential for
organisational cultures to endorse
the concept of care across a range
of employment policies, is critical to
working relations and thus,
The notion of organisational health is
apposite in any examination of the
complex relationship between
organisational cultures, productivity
and the health and well-being of
employees and companies
Organisation Carescapes
Organisation carescapes are not static:
thus planned ‘routes’ (policies and
practices) must sometimes be changed or
amended in response to shifts in public
policies (e.g. the introduction of disability
rights legislation, and flexible working
guidelines), the actions of employers or, in
the case of family life, personal events
such as the arrival of a first or subsequent
Organisation Carescapes (2)
These issues also change in response
to the influences of others
(governments, EU, business,
organisations) and changes in mobility,
communication & institutional
organisations that confront individuals
and companies (McKie et al., 2008)
Research Design
Organisations, Work & Care
Economic & Social Research Council
Stage 1; what’s care? Oh that!
Stage 2; unpacking the concept
Equalities & diversity
Health & well-being
Rights & responsibilities
Stage 3; Critical Incident Techniques
(CIT) interviews. Incidents: age, discipline,
flexible working, training, well-being
Epistemological Basis
Interpretative drawing upon
Critical theory
 Feminist theory
 Structuralism
 Postcolonialism
Mapping (context), interviews
Research Process
Stage 1: Exploratory interviews
Reflect UK economy. 10 EOs, 6
Care as an absent-presence
 Accommodating care
 Trade-offs. Care and
organisational goals
Research Process (2)
Stage 2: Survey
Equality and diversity; parental
leave to religious observance
Health & well-being; occupation
health to bullying and harassment
Responsibilities & rights; working
hours to staff development and training
103 EOs
Research Process (3)
Surveillance & control
 Base line
 Working hours, sickness
 Appraisal
 Maternity/paternity leave
Employer of choice
 Skill shortages
 Reputation
Self fulfilment
 Outward facing EOs
 Leave of absence / pro bono
Research Process (4)
Critical incident technique
Describe the experience or situation
Outline what they, or the people
observed, did
What was their assessment of this?
What would they have liked to happen?
Overall, what did they conclude?
Age, Discipline, Flexible
working, Training, Well-being
Research Process (4)
Themes to emerge
Defining ‘care’ and caring in the workplace
Boundaries within and between work /non-work
Knowledge and use of policies - access, support
to use, non use
Inter-sectionalities - gender and identities; age
and identities and gender, age and sector
Cultures and changing nature of these as
recession becomes apparent
Organisational health and well-being
Organisation Carescape look like...
 The history of EO, or the unit analysed such as
department or team. The past experiences of
 Contemporary context and experiences. Policies
and practices
 A summation of the dominant culture and its
 Assessment of futures; aspirations and
contextual constraints and opportunities.
Forecasting and speculations about EOs and
Conclusions (2)
Exploratory stage
CIT interviews
Social moral economy
 Fairness
 Gender stereotypes
 Workplace pressure & support
 Labour process
Political rhetoric