Rigor in Qualitative Supply Chain Management Research: Lessons from Applying Repertory Grid Technique

Keith Goffin, Jawwad Raja, Björn Claes, Marek Szwejczewski, Veronica Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to share the authors' experiences of using the repertory grid technique in two supply chain management studies. The paper aims to demonstrate how the two studies provided insights into how qualitative techniques such as the repertory grid can be made more rigorous than in the past, and how results can be generated that are inaccessible using quantitative methods.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents two studies undertaken using the repertory grid technique to illustrate its application in supply chain management research.

Findings – The paper presents insights into supply chain research that otherwise would not have emerged using traditional methods. Both studies derive a comprehensive list of empirical categories of constructs, many of which have not been identified in the extant literature. Moreover, the technique demonstrates that frequently-mentioned constructs are not necessarily the most important.

Research limitations/implications – The paper demonstrates how quantitative calculations can strengthen qualitative research. Importantly, from the authors' experience of using the technique the paper details how to focus on demonstrating validity, reliability, and theoretical saturation.

Originality/value – It is the authors' contention that the addition of the repertory grid technique to the toolset of methods used by logistics and supply chain management researchers can only enhance insights and the building of robust theories. Qualitative studies that adopt the technique cannot only provide rich insights, but also counter the common criticism aimed at qualitative research – that of failing to provide clear and transparent accounts of the analysis process and how findings are generated from the data set.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)804-827
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Repertory Grid Technique
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Manufacturer-supplier Relationships
  • Servitization
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Supplier Relations

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