Earlier this summer, Karen Locke, the Pat and Margaret Walsh Professor in Leadership and Ethics at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, was awarded the Academy of Management's Research Methods Division Distinguished Career Award. This is the second award Locke has received from the organization, having been awarded the Robert McDonald Advancement of Organizational Research Methodology Award in 2003. Locke has built her career on the value of qualitative research, with her receipt of this award reflecting the work she has done in bringing interest to the field of qualitative research.
Karen Golden-Biddle, Questrom Professor in Management at Boston University, was responsible for nominating Locke for the award. Golden-Biddle said “No other scholar in the field of management has done more to deeply engage and advance the understanding, use and teaching of qualitative methodology and its underpinnings than has Karen Locke.”
Since early in her career, she was drawn to qualitative studies saying “I just like being on the ground I guess, versus up in the air.” This field is smaller in the general research pool with the Academy of Management compared to quantitative studies, as it lends to focusing on the minute and singularly tangible.
Locke believes that “all of the structures of society that we have in place, have to be created every day anew. And so what qualitative research allows you to do is to look at the processes of making an organization, of making a relationship, as it's happening.” Incorporating this unique outlook into the dynamics into the world of business has been her career, bringing unique insight into the field.
Throughout her work as an educator and a professional, Locke said she has “developed an eye and a sensitivity to what is happening in the moment with interactions, and I try to bring both to my students.” As the Pat and Margaret Walsh Professor in Leadership and Ethics, Locke serves as the chair of the Leadership Development and Ethics program.
Locke’s tenure as chair has focused on giving voice to the values of students, incorporating as many aspects of experiential learning as possible, and to better harness the resources of the executive partners that the MBA program offers. Her role as qualitative researcher in prestigious role has been influential to the study of qualitative research within the Academy of Management’s large research umbrella.
Locke said “one of the nice things with this award, is that through the nomination process, some people who are at the forefront of quantitative methods in management and organization studies supported my nomination.” This career recognition comes from her pride in playing a role in increasing the acceptance of qualitative research within the community.
As an educator, Locke places incredible value in the ability to reach out and foster true connections in her classroom. Her ability to use personal interactions and value based learning has given her opportunities to impact her students’ careers and experiences long beyond the end of their time in the classroom.