Visual Maps for Process Research: Displaying the Invisible
In this article, we present visual maps as a way of visually representing qualitative data to improve rigor and analysis in process research. Visual representation of data is an essential element of scientific discourse, and historically scholars have put a great deal of effort into finding creative and efficient ways of visually representing quantitative data. Nevertheless, despite endeavors to integrate visual methods into organizational and management research, qualitative research still lacks a conceptual grounding of the ontological status of visual representation as well as effective tools to visually display data. We contribute to filling these gaps and start a discussion on qualitative data visualization by proposing Latour’s concept of inscription as a conceptual framework and the use of visual maps as a methodological tool for qualitative process research. We provide an analytical example of how visual mapping could become a methodological tool that enables recognizing patterns, condensing data, and comparing and examining relationships over time that are not necessarily visible independently of their representations. This also enables researchers to make sense of data, improve analysis, and theorize, thus fostering reflexive thinking and facilitating communication.
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