Drawing Fine Lines Behind Bars: Pushing the Boundaries of Researcher Neutrality in Unconventional Contexts
Context is central to qualitative research because it directs the researcher’s attention and facilitates the creation of theories that are “specific, explanatory, and relevant” for organizational scholars (Elsbach & Bechky, 2009, p.4). We define context as the surroundings of organizational phenomena of interest (Cappelli & Sherer, 1991), including the circumstances surrounding the research project, the physical locations in which studies are embedded, and the populations under study. Within the domain of organizational research, context varies greatly, and some of the most novel and innovative advancements in organizational research come from studies in unconventional contexts (i.e., those that are unusual or extreme: Bamberger & Pratt, 2010). However, such unconventional contexts are rare partly because they are often exceptionally difficult for researchers to access, and they come with additional unique challenges for high-quality data collection.