Reflexivity: recursion and relationality in organizational research processes

Paul Hibbert*, Robert Macintosh, Christine Coupland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The paper seeks to support a better understanding of the types (or processes) of reflexivity which may be involved in the practice of organizational research, and the implications of reflexive practice for organizational researchers.
Design/methodology/approach – A characterization of reflexivity as a process is developed from extant research, in four steps. First, the principal dimensions of reflexivity – reflection and recursion – are identified and delineated. Second, recursion is shown to have two modes, active and passive. Third, reflection is shown to have both closed, self-guided and open, relational modes. Fourth, through integrating the detailed characterizations of each of the dimensions, different types of reflexivity are identified and defined.
Findings – The paper shows how different types of reflexivity may be experienced sequentially, as a progressive process, by organizational researchers. Implications for research practice are derived from a consideration of this process. Originality/value – The paper develops a novel conceptualization of reflexivity as a process with individual and relational aspects. This conceptualization supports important insights for the conduct and legitimation of reflexive research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
Number of pages16
JournalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2010


  • Qualitative methods
  • Research
  • Cause and effect analysis


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