Using causal mapping in the analysis of semi-structured interviews

Pyrko, Igor and Dörfler, Viktor (2018) Using causal mapping in the analysis of semi-structured interviews. In: 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, 2018-08-10 - 2018-08-14.

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    Abstract

    In this paper we systemize Eden and Ackermann’s approach to causal mapping as a technique for analyzing semi-structured interviews. By doing so, we aim to popularize causal mapping as an accessible, yet structured and formalized, method that can be used in a variety of studies within the broad organization and management research. In our discussion we characterize this approach to causal mapping as being grounded in Kelly’s ‘Theory of Personal Constructs’. Following Kelly’s work, causal mapping seeks to represent some aspects of a person’s thoughts about a given problem in question. On this basis, causal mapping, which is employed to work with different interviewees’ individual maps carefully merged together, helps to enable an intersubjective position from where the interrelationships, and feedback dynamics, between elements of interview material can be explored. Thereby, while causal mapping can be a good way of surfacing aspects of the available interview material which could not be accessed by other methods, it can be used in combination with more traditional methods such as thematic analysis or narrative analysis. As a result, we argue, not only does causal mapping offer a structured approach to qualitative coding, but it lends itself well to adaptation in new areas of study where it has not been applied so far.