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By Mike Imms, Gill Ereaut

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Certainly, current practice in the UK seems to contain elements of all three paradigms, although there is very clear emphasis on the last two. There is certainly a cultural rejection of the ‘simple reportage’ which characterises research that remains at the level of the discursive. This section has covered a variety of theories of models and concepts – not to mention a great many terms. A summary may help focus on key themes. qxd 6/14/02 7:16 PM Page 29 CHARACTERISTICS OF QMR AS A COMMERCIAL PRACTICE 29 • Qualitative market research can play a simple descriptive role – describing behaviours, ‘cognitive’ factors and limiting itself to ‘firstdegree’ summaries and categorisations of respondents’ own descriptions of their world, their views and opinions.

Qualitative: understanding, meaning and context – focusing on questions of ‘why’ through creating a holistic understanding of the subject’s viewpoint. Relies on quite different sources of authority such as interpretivist, phenomenological or cultural models. It must be stressed here that, at the extremes, certain organisational questions clearly need a qualitative or quantitative approach. For example, it is hard to imagine a reason for trying to collect retail audit data (what was bought, from where and when) qualitatively – it would simply be less accurate and less meaningful.

Experienced researchers often have a very wide knowledge of models and concepts which they apply to their work. Again, this is done eclectically and pragmatically; what works in helping produce useful outcomes for clients is deemed useful and appropriate (unfettered by concern for methodological or theoretic purity) and what does not work or is not useful is dropped. There is no pressure to justify or even explain the use of models or methods for any other audience. One can regard this as intellectually reckless and audacious, or as intelligent and creative – but it is, in fact, what happens.

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