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Workshop on Conducting Field Research in Methodologically Challenging Settings

Oct 1-2, 2020
Surrey Business School

Grand challenges are difficult to solve societal problems that impact people globally (George et al, 2016). They include poverty alleviation, balancing gender, ethnic and racial inequality, reversing biodiversity loss, adapting to climate change and, more recently, recovering from current health and economic crises. Although present in most societies, they are particularly prevalent in developing countries. However, while research in impoverished regions may provide crucial insights for understanding grand challenges, there are major methodological constraints that may limit publication opportunities (Matos & Hall, 2020). This includes, but is not limited to, issues associated with illiteracy rates, language and cultural barriers, unreliable statistical data, corruption, lack of freedom of speech and unsafe or remote communities. Mair et. al (2012) suggest that the majority of management research is conducted in developed countries, which is unencumbered by such constraints, and thus of limited relevance in underdeveloped regions. This workshop builds on these arguments by exploring the methodological constraints common in impoverished regions, which are typically ignored, trivialized, misrepresented or deemed methodologically weak by mainstream management journals. The theme of this workshop is to therefore develop rigorous methodologies in challenging settings for publication in leading journals.

Researchers at various career stages are invited to reflect on their data gathering and analysis practices. The workshop will be held online October 1 – 2 (half day on both days to accommodate time zones). The program will cover challenges related to field research from methodological, practical and theoretical perspectives. Through joint discussions during the workshop, the key takeaway for the participants will be “rigor without rigor mortis” (Eisenhardt et al, 2016) in challenging settings. Participants can join as authors of a paper or as regular attendees. The detailed program, including how to participate online, will be available early September.

This workshop will cover challenges related to field research from methodological, practical and theoretical perspectives. Significant methodological difficulties related to data collection and analysis may rise from, for example, language and cultural barriers, questionnaire interpretation, unreliable statistical data, corruption and lack of freedom of speech (Halme et al., 2016). In practice, the work of a researcher is challenging due to safety issues (Whiteman & Cooper, 2016), gaining access to interesting cases and the necessity of working with 2 gatekeeper organizations (Halme et al., 2016). Further, are the theories of Western researchers able to explain the phenomena one is studying in these different environments?


The following keynote speakers will be sharing their experiences on conducting field research in impoverished communities:

  • Prof. Charla Griffy-Brown (Editor-in-Chief, Technology in Society)
  • Prof. Wim Vanhaverbeke (Co-Editor-in-Chief, Technovation)
  • Prof. Pablo Munoz, (Associate Editor, Journal of Business Venturing Insights)
  • Prof. Madhu Viswanathan (Founder of Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative)

The program will include keynote presentations from journal editors, roundtables on methodological issues and paper development working sessions. Through the joint discussions during the workshop, the key takeaway for the participants will be “rigor without rigor mortis” (Eisenhardt, Graebner, & Sonenshein, 2016) in challenging settings.

The workshop is held online during Thursday October 1st and Friday October 2nd . The workshop will be half day on both days – accommodating for the time zones the best way possible. The detailed program, including how to participate online, will be shared with the participants early September.

Information for participants

  • Register through this link: https://tinyurl.com/y9s4u9qm
  • Both regular attendees and paper authors are welcome to join
  • As paper author, please submit also an abstract (500 words) with 3-5 keywords
  • The deadline for the abstract is August 20th
  • To allow for collaborative learning, we expect workshop participants to be willing to reflect on experiences and to share good practices of doing research in methodologically challenging settings
  • For further questions, please contact marleen.wierenga@aalto.fi

Call for Papers

Authors are to submit an abstract of 500 words with three to five key words. The deadline for submissions is Thursday 20 August.

Register for Workshop

The deadline for registration is Thursday 20 August.


  • Dr. Stelvia Matos (Surrey Business School, UK)
  • Dr. Marleen Wierenga (Aalto University School of Business, Finland)
  • Dr. Jeremy Hall (Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School, UK)
  • Dr. Minna Halme (Aalto University School of Business, Finland)
  • Dr. Susana Carla Farias Pereira (Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil)

Click Here for More Information


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