Qualitative Insider Research in a Government Institution: Reflections on a Study of Policy Capacity
The Qualitative Report
Embarking on a qualitative Ph.D. research project in public administration is often daunting for novice researchers. For those students who consider adopting an emic or insider approach for their research, the ethical, methodological, and analytical challenges that lay ahead may seem insurmountable at times. In this article, I reflect on my experience as a Ph.D. student completing qualitative research with my colleagues to study policy capacity in a provincial government in Canada. I review how
... I constructed an ethical framework by integrating policy from Research Ethics Boards and government. Throughout the article, I deal primarily with ethical considerations and the personal and professional tensions associated with insider research. In addition to providing an overview of the literature on insider and emic research, I present ethical protocols that student-practitioners in other settings should consider when completing academic research with their colleagues in government institutions. Overall, the risks one must mitigate and minimize when completing insider research in government institutions are not substantially different from insider research in private institutions. While insider approaches in the study of public administration are not without their unique challenges, they do offer great potential in broadening and deepening emic knowledge of public administration practice.