Instructor: Ilpo Koskinen, ikoskine(at)

Class materials

Syllabus // Deadline for reports February 11 (Friday)

Lecture 1: Introduction

Lectures 2-3: Producing Observations: // Interviews// Other methods

Lecture 4: Inference

Lecture 5: Misc: ethics, confidentiality, writing

Finally: Wrap up



Instructor: Ilpo Koskinen, ikoskine(at)

Research questions determine the choice of methods. The wide spectrum of complex and pressing questions in the business research include many hot topics that cannot be tackled only with quantitative methods. Yet, in practise, the lack of methodological rigour and an overdose of methodological vagueness have often impeded the publication of qualitative research. However, there are frequent calls for more qualitative work in the leading business journals, their practical importance is widely acknowledged, and the legitimacy of qualitative research is increasing among the scholars. At the same time, the researchers are expected to conduct a systematic and logical qualitative data analysis, and the transparency of the methods is required.

Aims and scope of the course: The course is designed to enable students that have already started their PhD projects to enrich their graduate study by offering skills and knowledge of conducting a qualitative study in a business context. The complementary relationship between quantitative and qualitative methodologies will be clarified. Thus, the PhD students doing mainly quantitative research are encouraged to participate in the course. The practical and organisational aspects of producing a thorough qualitative research will be strongly emphasised.

The structure of the course: The course consists of three modules, with varying length. During the first module, students are to provide the teacher with a short summary of their research project. The students are required to familiarise themselves with the reading that is specified and sent to the students a month prior to the course.

The second theoretical module will be hosted by the University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Economics. The module consists of a three-day intensive workshop, which is a balanced combination of lectures, student-led discussion of issues in their current research project, and individual detailed discussion with the teacher. The students can also present their own research projects and get feedback. The lecture topics will be selected from the following, the emphasis being on the items 3 and 4:

1) How and when to use qualitative research methods
2) Planning and designing qualitative research (including research ethics)
3) Generating data
4) Analysing data
5) Writing
6) Publishing qualitative research

During the third module, the students are to provide a term paper that analyses the qualitative research approach related to their own work.


Mo 31.1. 9-11 Introduction: background, the basics of qualitative research
Mo 31.1. 12-14 Generating data, 1: Semi-Structured Interviews
Mo31.1. 14-16 “Seminar”: student presentations, discussion, individual feedback from the instructor.

Tu 1.2. 9-11 Generating data, 2: Alternative Methods – observation, documents, misc.
Tu 1.2. 12-14 Inference. Induction; reliability and validity; generalization, sampling, quantification; argumentation.
Tu 1.2. 14-16 “Seminar”: student presentations, discussion, individual feedback from the instructor.

We 2.2. 9-11 The Sample perspective; ethics and confidentiality; writing qualitative research.
We 2.2. 11-12 Wrap up. Handing in course work.

Friday 11.2. Sending in papers to instructor to

Teacher: Professor Ilpo Koskinen, University of Art and Design, Department of Product and Strategic Design (Industrial design), Helsinki. Professor Koskinen has taught qualitative research methods for PhD and undergraduate students in various business schools and universities. His students have come from various disciplines from economics to organisation and management.

Time and place: Spring 2005 (most likely January/ February), University of Helsinki

Number of participants and funding: The number of participants is limited to 10 PhD students in order to guarantee personal feedback. The course is free of charge. NOVA network pays for the travel costs and the accommodation of the participants that come from the NOVA member universities.

Student enrolment: Students interested in this course must fill out the application form and send it by email to

For further questions, kindly contact

Silja Korhonen
PhD student, researcher
Department of Forest Economics
University of Helsinki
+358 9 191 57967

Alvar Berghäll
University lecturer, Forest Products Marketing
Department of Forest Economics
University of Helsinki
+358 9 191 57968