Topic Modeling as a Strategy of Inquiry in Organizational Research: A Tutorial With an Application Example on Organizational Culture

Organizational Research Methods, SAGE Publications, ISSN 1094-4281

Volume 22, 4, 2019

DOI:10.1177/1094428118773858, Dimensions: pub.1103862360,



  1. (1) University of Liechtenstein, grid.445905.9
  2. (2) IT University of Copenhagen, grid.32190.39, ITU







Research has emphasized the limitations of qualitative and quantitative approaches to studying organizational phenomena. For example, in-depth interviews are resource-intensive, while questionnaires with closed-ended questions can only measure predefined constructs. With the recent availability of large textual data sets and increased computational power, text mining has become an attractive method that has the potential to mitigate some of these limitations. Thus, we suggest applying topic modeling, a specific text mining technique, as a new and complementary strategy of inquiry to study organizational phenomena. In particular, we outline the potentials of structural topic modeling for organizational research and provide a step-by-step tutorial on how to apply it. Our application example builds on 428,492 reviews of Fortune 500 companies from the online platform Glassdoor, on which employees can evaluate organizations. We demonstrate how structural topic models allow to inductively identify topics that matter to employees and quantify their relationship with employees’ perception of organizational culture. We discuss the advantages and limitations of topic modeling as a research method and outline how future research can apply the technique to study organizational phenomena.

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