07 SES 03 C JS, Obstacles and Chances of International and Participatory Research
Joint Paper Session NW 07 and NW 15
The complex, changing and contested global, cultural and societal contexts of the twenty-first century give rise to significant methodological dilemmas for educational researchers. One aspect of this is that international research collaboration requires re-working methodological conceptions and practice. Despite the increased demand on cross-cultural research, discussions of ‘culturally sensitive methodologies’ (Madriz 1998:7) are still largely neglected in the literature on research methods, including case studies.
This paper is a reflection on methodological and ethical issues that arose in a cross-cultural collaborative research project conducted over a period of four years by an international and multidisciplinary research team. Researchers on the project were based at the University of Cambridge (UK) and Nazarbayev University (Republic of Kazakhstan) and are citizens of the UK, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Spain and Ukraine. The research was concerned with exploring the process of school reform in Kazakhstan. The focus of this paper is on what constitutes ethical research practice in a non-Western context and how members of the research team worked to achieve it. Central here is the reflection on the particular methodological challenges of conducting cross-cultural research and a discussion of the strengths and difficulties of multi-level case studies that combine both cultural insiders and outsiders within the team.
We describe our collaborative research project as ‘cross-cultural’ in the sense of being ‘a transdisciplinary approach bringing different cultures and knowledge systems with the aim of developing new perspectives based on an equal exchange’ (Davis 2010:62). While cross-cultural studies are driven by an etic perspective (outsider view), field research, which stands at the beginning of our cross-cultural analysis, is very much interested in the emic perspective (insider view) or local communities (Leonti and Weckerle 2015). Louis and Bartunek (1992:101) have argued that ‘research teams in which one or more members are relative insiders to a setting and one or more members are relative outsiders offer distinct advantages for integrating diverse perspectives on organisational activities’. Banks (1998) offers a typology of cross-cultural researchers, including: ‘indigenous insider’, ‘indigenous outsider’, ‘external insider’ and ‘external outsider’. In this paper we discuss the ‘indigenous outsider’ and ‘external outsider’ types of cross-cultural researchers which are represented by the authors of this paper.
A review of the literature shows that people working in cross-cultural settings often confront many ethical and methodological challenges with little information on how to deal with these difficulties (Small et al. 1999; Hennink 2008; Liamputtong 2008; 2010). To add to the field of cross-cultural research, this paper addresses the following questions:
- What are the key challenges of conducting multi-level case studies by a team of cross-cultural researchers in a non-Western context?
- What are the strategies that the research team used to negotiate these methodological dilemmas?
- What new ethical dilemmas does online communication generate?
Banks, J. (1998). The lives and values of researchers: Implications for educating citizens in a multicultural society. Educational Researcher, 27(7), 4-17. Bartunek, J. and Louis, R. M. (1996) Insider/outsider team research. London: Sage Publications. Carter, J. 2004. Research notes: reflections on interviewing across the ethnic divide. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 7(4): 345–353. Davis, W. (2010). Last of their kind: What is lost when culture die? Scientific American, 303, 60-67. Finlay, L. (2002). Negotiating the swamp: the opportunity and challenge of reflexivity in research practice. Qualitative Research, 2(2), 209-230. Griffiths, M. (1998). Educational research for social justice: getting off the fence. Buckingham, Open University Press. Guillemin, M. and Gillam, L. (2004). Ethics, reflexivity, and ‘ethically important moments’ in research. Qualitative Inquiry, 10(2), 261-280. Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (1995). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. 2nd edition. Routledge. Hennink, M.M. (2007). International focus group research: A handbook for the health and social science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hockey, J. (1993). Research methods—researching peers and familiar settings. Research Papers in Education, 8(2): 199–225. Labaree, R. V.(2002). The risk of ‘going observationalist’: negotiating the hidden dilemmas of being an insider participant observer. Qualitative Research, 2(1), 97–122. Leonti, M. and Weckerle, C.S. (2015) Qualitative comparative methods in ethnopharmacology in Henrich, M. and Jäger, A.K. (eds.) Ethnophamacology (pp.60-67) Wiley Blackwell. Liamputtong, P. (2010). Performing qualitative cross-cultural research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Liamputtong, P. (2008). Doing research in a cross-cultural context: Methodological and ethical challenges. In P. Liamputtong (Ed.), Doing cross-cultural research: Ethical and methodological perspectives (pp. 3-20). Dordrecht: Springer. Louis, M. and Bartunek, J. M. (1992). ‘Insider/outsider research teams: Collaboration across diverse perspectives’, Journal of Management Inquiry 1, 101-110. Madriz, E. (1998). Using focus group with lower socioeconomic status Latina women. Qualitative Health Research 4, 114-128. Small, R., Yelland, J., Lumley, J., and Liamputtong, R.P. (1999) Cross-cultural research: Trying to do it better, 1. Issues in study design. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 23(4), 385-389. Tillman, L.C. (2006). Researching and writing from an African-American perspective: Reflective notes on three research studies. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 19(3), 265-287.
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