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Qualitative research on leadership: A critical but appreciative review

By Alan Bryman


This article reviews a large number of articles that derive from qualitative research on leadership that were published prior to 2004 in peer-reviewed journals. The article then goes on to examine critically but appreciatively the ways in which qualitative research on leadership is and is not distinctive. This review shows that while qualitative research has made some important contributions to certain areas of leadership, such as the role of leaders in the change process, it is sometimes not as distinctive, when compared to quantitative research, as might be supposed. The piece also examines studies that combine quantitative with qualitative research. The different ways in which the two approaches are combined is a particular emphasis in this examination. In addition, the article explores the issue of whether the corpus of research that has been accumulated by qualitative researchers can be combined with that of quantitative researchers. A central ingredient of the discussion of qualitative research is the tendency for many researchers not to build sufficiently on the studies of leadership conducted by others. It is argued that giving greater attention to this issue will allow the contributions of qualitative research on leadership to become clearer

Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2004.09.007
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