By considering our experiences of a crisis at our own organization—the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State—we argue for the value of leveraging diverse, personally relevant insider views to better understand difficult-to-study organizational phenomena, including those that are ambiguous, contested, or emotional. Researchers tend to study organizational dynamics from the outside in, seeking a dominant dispassionate interpretation. In contrast, we advocate for inside-out perspectives that give voice to introspective and reflexive views—including of researchers themselves—to account for cognitive and emotional experiences of those directly affected by events. We encourage researchers to overtly reflect on their cognitive and emotional responses to research. Such personally engaged research comes with potential biases, which researchers must mitigate. Yet such research also has distinct advantages. Researchers working from the inside out are motivated and positioned to employ deep, long-term, real-time engagement, with access to many types of sensitive data that are often unavailable to outsiders. Researchers for whom events have direct personal relevance as insiders to a phenomenon or organization, thus, have the means to bring different and deeper insight and richer understandings to organizational research by including their experiences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Strategy and Management