No need to hide: Acknowledging the researcher’s intuition in empirical organizational research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Experts on organizational research methods have begun to highlight the importance of researchers’ intuition (i.e. ‘direct knowing’) and have called for more genuine method sections that acknowledge its use. However, using intuition contradicts established research standards of traceability. Hence, when intuition was involved in the research process, researchers must choose between reporting its role, thereby risking the impression of lacking scholarly rigor, and downplaying its role, thereby writing less-than-honest research reports. This article aims to provide a solution to this dilemma by conceptually exploring how intuition can be integrated in research such that scholarly rigor is maintained. Building on Weick’s distinction of creative imagination and validation, it argues that intuition can be legitimately seized if its functioning principles are taken into account and its outcomes are later validated through analytical procedures. The article synthesizes theoretical assumptions and empirical findings on characteristics of intuition with discussions of organizational research methods to derive implications on (1) points in the research process where researchers’ intuitions may be legitimately included and (2) possible types of intuitive outcomes that may be reported. This may contribute to both more genuine method sections and more rigorous research that systematically validates intuition, instead of hiding it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-654
Number of pages20
JournalHuman relations
Issue number4
Early online date14 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Cite this