In the following chapter the researchers present the methodological reasoning taking place in relation to the research purpose. Firstly, the researchers present the chosen research design, approach, and philosophy which guides decisions regarding the methodology employed. The following section presents data collection methods and techniques together with sample selection and data analysis technique. Lastly, the chapter presents ethical- and quality aspects of the research.
In its most simple form, the design of the research is the logical sequence that connects the empirical data to a study’s initial research question(s) and, ultimately, to its conclusion (Yin, 2018). One may describe the research design as a strategy that lays out the principles of the research methodology for the chosen study. It articulates the methods and techniques for all the stages of the research process and motivates the appropriateness connected to the research question(s) (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, Jackson, Jaspersen, 2018). To get a clear overview of the methodological decisions in this thesis, see Figure For this study, the researchers have applied a qualitative exploratory design as a structure.
The standpoint of how researchers view the world and assumptions of ways to inquiring the nature of the world are cornerstones for research philosophy. Meaning that it concerns the nature of reality and the understanding of theories and knowledge. The philosophical standpoints guide the researchers in choosing appropriate designs and methods for the research by considering ontological and epistemological perspectives (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). The ontology regards the nature of reality and the epistemology helps the researchers to understand and interpret the reality (Bryman, 2012; Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). By clearly stating the ontological and epistemological perspectives for the specific research, the researchers are able to make purposeful contributions to the field of research (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018).
As the researchers for this study consider the nature of the world to exists through several truths depending on the viewpoint of different people, the ontological position for this research corresponds to relativism. In accordance with the approach of relativism, the researchers have investigated in the manifestation of the dark side of EI and how it affects people by considering the multiple truths. This means that people’s different views of the world and the meaning of things are shaped by their background, different experiences and the context which they operate within. Semi-structured in-depth interviews with people within companies have been conducted to gather direct data about how the dark side of EI manifests and affects the people, which corresponds to their viewpoints of the world (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018).
The epistemological standpoint taken for this research is social constructionism. Researchers who hold a social constructionist perspective seeks to inquire about the different experience that people have. The foundation for social constructionism is the aspects of a « social reality » determined by people rather than by objectives and external factors. Attention should be paid to how people communicate with each other, whether it is verbally or nonverbally (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). This goes in line with this research as knowledge and understanding was collected from the point of view of people within companies. It regarded the verbal and nonverbal communication carried out through the usage of the dark side of EI. The collection of the different perspectives of the several realities within companies aimed to deepen the knowledge regarding the emerging area of the dark side of EI.
Following the decision regarding the philosophical standpoint for this research, the researchers needed to decide upon a suitable research approach. For this research, the researchers choose to conduct a qualitative exploratory study, which served as a guide in the choice of the research approach. Most often, in exploratory research, the research approach becomes categorised into two distinct categories being a deductive- respectively an inductive approach (Alvesson & Sköldberg, 2018). A researcher investigating in a deductive research approach starts at the top of theory and out from current knowledge within relevant field hypotheses or propositions are created. In a later stage these hypothesis or propositions is tested in order to confirm respectively contradict the existing theory. Generally speaking, a deductive research approach becomes suitable in research relying on a positivistic philosophical assumption and most often in combinations of quantitative methods (Bryman, 2012). The researches, argues that this type of research approach did not become appropriate, due to the fact of the existing research base of the dark side of EI in the company context is moderately limited which makes it complex to test. Additionally, this approach will not create value to the chosen research purpose as the researchers aimed to explore how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people.
Contrary to a deductive approach, a researcher investigating in research having an inductive research approach starts from observation with theory as the outcome. This type of approach has the starting point in identifying patterns and broader themes of a phenomenon by drawing generalizable inference out of observation by investigating in participants’ views. This generates theory and a conceptual framework. Most commonly, an inductive research approach becomes appropriate in circumstances of social constructionist philosophical assumptions incorporating qualitative methods (Bryman, 2012). Based on the purpose, an inductive research approach enabled the researchers to explore how the dark side of EI affects people in a company context and by that investigating in theory generating was constructed through the assumption of social constructionism (Bryman, 2012). Importantly, the research was based on theoretical standpoints drawn from literature and existing theories, which served as a foundation in order to explore the field of the dark side of EI within a company context (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009). Even though this study incorporated theoretical fundamentals from previous literature and concepts, an inductive approach was suitable due to the fact that all type of insights arises from emerging knowledge.
Research strategies within the field of business and management research which put emphasize to words rather than quantification, in collection and analysis of empirical data, is referred to as qualitative research strategies (Bryman, 2012). Qualitative research methods are well established in most social science disciplines and does mainly consider open and equivocal empirical material. The starting point of qualitative research strategies are one or more general research question(s) (Bryman, 2012), often including words such as how and why (Myers, 2013). Qualitative research strategies are helpful as the aim is to understand what people verbally express and how they behave. It also aids the understanding of why a certain context matters as a decision or an action is taking place (Myers, 2013). Hence, a qualitative research strategy was suitable for this research as the aim was to explore how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people within companies. The mentioned strategy was further appropriate as the researchers through exploration intended to get a deeper understanding of how people behave and get affected in regards to the dark side of EI.
An important feature of qualitative methods, which distinguish it from quantitative methods, is that qualitative methods starts from the actions and perspectives of the subjects studied and involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach of the world (Alvesson Sköldberg, 2018). This study outset from the perspective of people within companies and their view on how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people within this context, which argues for a qualitative research strategy. This is a study of explorative nature, which goes in line with qualitative research (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). A qualitative research strategy has the tendency to be connected with an inductive approach (Bryman, 2012) as well as to a social constructionism research philosophy (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). Given the inductive approach and the constructionism philosophical assumptions for this research, a qualitative research strategy was accordingly most suitable.
The fundamentals of a social constructionist standpoint enable four possible methods in how to conduct qualitative research. These are; action research, archival research, ethnography and narrative methods (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). However, there are two additional methods that could be used for both positivistic and social constructionist philosophical approaches, being case study/multiple case study and grounded theory. Dependent on the number of cases investigated in, case studies could serve both positivistic and social constructionist purposes. For this study, the researchers have chosen to investigate in multiple case study, incorporating four cases, being similar in nature of existence. The central notion is to use cases as the basis from which to develop theory inductively, which was in line for the chosen research approach (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007). Incorporating four cases is classified as a method being social constructionist in nature (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018), but enables the researchers to draw more powerful analytical conclusions contributing to the wider extent of theory generating. Having multiple cases do also enables a wider exploration of theoretical elaboration and results in theory being better grounded, more accurate, and more generalizable when it is based on multiple cases (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007). According to Yin (2018,) a multiple- case design is preferred over a single case study since the analytical benefits from having more than one single case will be substantial. Using a multiple case method for this study aid the researchers to better understand how the dark side of EI manifests within a company as well as affects people within a company. Having this method decreased the risk of one company reflecting a misleading image of how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people within a single company context.
Eisenhardt (1989) argue for case studies being a suitable method while aiming at creating understanding of dynamics taking place within a real firm. Since the researchers aimed at exploring how the dark side of EI manifests within a company as well as explore how this phenomenon affects people within a company context, this method was aligned with the research purpose of theory generating within business research. One strength associated with case studies is the fact of theory being empirically valid since the theory generated is tied with evidence being taken from empirical observation. This aspect becomes heavily important, while the purpose of this research aimed at exploring how people gets affected by the dark side of EI which is closely integrated to people’s feeling and reactions. This contributes to theory which closely mirrors reality (Eisenhardt, 1989).
Unit of Analysis
The unit of analysis corresponds to the main level within a setting at which research data is aggregated (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). Yin (2018) further suggests defining a unit of analysis which is related to the initial research questions for a study. This study aimed at exploring how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people within companies. Hence, the unit of analysis for this study was at a twofold level. As investigating how the dark side of EI manifests within a company, the unit of analysis corresponded to an organisational level. In terms of research questions two which aimed to explore how the phenomenon affects people, the unit of analysis was at an individual level.
While investigating in sampling design, two main categories are present: probability and non-probability sampling (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018). Having a probability sampling design enables each member of a population to have the same given chance of participating in the study. This type of design is the only sample design in which it is possible to be precise about the relationship between a sample and the population from which the sample is drawn. Most often probability sample design is used when making a statistical inference. In a non-probability sampling design, participants are not selected randomly and only some members of a population have a chance to be selected. In this type of sampling design, the selection is based on the accessibility and judgment of the researchers. For this study, the researchers have chosen to investigate in a non-probability sampling design since the purpose was to explore how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people within a predefined context. According to (Easterby-Smith et al., 2018) there are multiple non-probability sampling designs such as convenience sampling, quota sampling, purposive sampling, and snowball sampling. For this study, the chosen sampling design is purposive sampling as it is a strategy that relies on the judgment of the researchers when it comes to selecting whom to include. In this type of design, criteria for inclusion in the sample are defined, and entities are screened to see whether they meet the criteria for inclusion. The case criteria were predefined as: geographical location of Sweden; company size of large corporation being more than 850 employees; corporations having a hierarchical organisational structure of at least four hierarchical levels. Additionally, while choosing among cases to investigate in for a multiple-case study, each case must be carefully selected in order to provide value for the research. As earlier stated, multiple cases are more likely to result in theory being better grounded, more accurate and more generalizable. In a single case study, the case will be chosen based on the uniqueness of the case (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007). In a multiple- case study, the cases involved are chosen based on the contribution to the theory development within the set of cases. Each case selected for the study must either be selected based on the prediction of the case presenting similar results called literal replication, or by the reason of predicting contrasting results being theoretical replication (Yin, 2018). In this thesis, the researchers have chosen to investigate in cases being predicted to present similar results, due to the research purpose of aiming at exploring how the dark side of EI manifests within a company as well as affects people in the organisations in general terms.
1.5 Definitions of Key Terms
2. Frame of Reference
2.1 Emotional Intelligence
2.2 The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence
2.3 Theoretical Framework
3. Research Methodology
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Data Collection Techniques
3.3 Data Analysis
3.4 Assessing Research Quality
4. Empirical Findings
4.1 How does the dark side of EI manifest within a company?
4.2 How does the dark side of EI affect people within a company?
5.1 Manifestation of the dark side of EI
5.2 How the dark side of EI affects people within a company
5.3 The Spectrum Framework from EI to the Dark Side of EI
6. Conclusion and Discussion
6.1 Purpose and Research Questions
6.4 Suggestions for Future Research .
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The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence within a Company Context A multiple case study exploring the dark side of emotional intelligence within Swedish companies