This Is Going to Hurt: Compassionate Research Methods

Hans Hansen, Christine Quinn Trank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


As compassion has become established in the organizational literature as an important area of study, calls for increased compassion in our own work and research have increased. Compassion can take many forms in academic work, but in this article we propose a framework for compassionate research methods. Not only driven by caring for others and a desire for improving their lot, compassionate research methods actually immerse the researcher in compassionate work. We propose that compassionate research methods include three important elements: ethnography, aesthetics, and emotionality. Together, these provide opportunities for emergent theoretical experimentation that can lead to both the alleviation of suffering in the immediate research context and new theoretical insights. To show the possibilities of this method, we use empirical data from a unique setting—the first U.S. permanent death penalty defense team.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-375
Number of pages24
JournalOrganizational Research Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • critical theory
  • ethnography
  • qualitative research


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