11th Annual Davis Conference on Qualitative Research Investigates the How and Why of Decision Making and Behavior

by Jacqueline Romo

The 11th annual Davis Conference on Qualitative Research in April attracted invited scholars to share alternative approaches to qualitative research methods, develop new ways to think about data and continue to build a community of researchers from diverse disciplines.

Presenters included faculty from prominent institutions, including Stanford University, New York University, McGill University, the Imperial College Business School in London and University at Buffalo, SUNY. Topics ranged from “Understanding Daily Work Practices” and “The Power of Rhetoric and Vocabulary” to “The Process of Sensemaking” and “Tensions in Defining Organizational Roles.”

“I was impressed by the rich data and the methodological rigor that the scholars brought to the conference,” said Professor Kimberly Elsbach, who organized the conference with Associate Professor Beth Bechky.

The 10 invited participants voted two best paper awards. Natasha Iskander of New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service was honored for her paper on “The Transformers: Mexican Immigrants and the Development of Tacit Knowledge.” Iskander researched how Mexican immigrant construction workers use their knowledge to gain credibility at U.S. job sites. She found that construction in the U.S. is accomplished in a more piecemeal manner than in Mexico, where buildings are constructed from the bottom up by one group of workers.

“According to Iskander, the immigrants have a more complete understanding of how to construct a building—knowledge that is lacking for U.S. construction workers,” said Elsbach.

Michael Cohen of the University of Michigan’s School of Information won the second best paper award for, “Pattern in Variety: How Individual Habit and Organizational Routine Are Expressed in Meeting the Unique Requirements of Intensive Care Patients.”

Cohen explored how staff transitions in hospital intensive care units work, and how these informal and latent routines make exchanges successful.


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