Business students collaborating at a conference

Initiative for Qualitative Research in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Initiative for Qualitative Research in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (INQUIRE) supports research that draws upon interviews, observations, and archival data to understand the complex social processes underlying the creation, development and growth of novel ideas, innovative business models, and new organizations. INQUIRE provides a hub for the qualitative research community within Gies and a point of connection with qualitative researchers across campus and beyond.

We expand the strong tradition of qualitative research at Gies

While qualitative research is relatively rare within business schools, it has a storied history at the University of Illinois and Gies College of Business. Gies College is one of a select few business schools with multiple faculty members and doctoral students who focus on this type of work.

Qualitative methods allow researchers to take an inductive, exploratory approach that generates fresh ideas and illuminates phenomena that are so new or dynamic that they are not captured in any databases. Qualitative data provide insights and answer questions about organizations that traditional statistical analyses cannot.

We connect qualitative research, innovation, and entrepreneurship

INQUIRE supports qualitative researchers from across Gies Business, with a special emphasis on studies of innovation and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is a key engine of economic growth and societal impact. In entrepreneurial settings, ideas evolve rapidly, individual participants come and go frequently, and much of the “action” is not captured in any formal records. Interviews and observations enable researchers to capture processes that occur in these dynamic, uncertain environments.


Professor Melissa Graebner, Director of INQUIRE

Melissa Graebner
Professor of Business Administration and Director of the Initiative for Qualitative Research in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (INQUIRE) and Robert & Karen May Faculty Fellow

Director Melissa Graebner is an internationally recognized expert on qualitative research in strategy and entrepreneurship. Her work has been recognized by the Academy of Management and has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, and Forbes. She is also co-editor of the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, a major outlet for entrepreneurship research, and a Fellow of the Strategic Management Society. She believes in using fieldwork and case studies to help answer questions that have scholarly importance and also matter to professionals in the business world.

Advisory Board

Vidya Haran
Teaching Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Christine Hayne
Assistant Professor of Accountancy

Ishva Minefree

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Mark Peecher

Deloitte Professor of Accountancy and Executive Associate Dean of Faculty and Research


Carlos Torelli

Department Head and Professor of Business Administration and Zimmerman Faculty Fellow

Michelle Checketts

Doctoral student, Business Administration

Nicole Donahoo

Doctoral student, Accountancy

We collaborate to enhance discovery

INQUIRE brings together world-class faculty experts, supports groundbreaking research, and uses qualitative research techniques to create inspirational teaching materials.

Speaker Series

In the INQUIRE speaker series, qualitative researchers share current research projects and discuss contemporary research issues.

Research Grants

INQUIRE provides financial support for Gies faculty and doctoral students who are engaged in qualitative research projects. Funding is available for travel to field sites and conferences and for transcription and other direct research expenses.

ICME (Illinois Cases in Management Education) Teaching Case Program

Qualitative research techniques such as interviewing provide a deep, holistic perspective on organizational processes.  These techniques can also be deployed to create compelling teaching materials that offer rich insights to students. ICME teaching cases feature diverse protagonists with ties to UIUC.  They highlight the accomplishments of our community by featuring Illinois alumni and Illinois innovations, and are provided free of charge to Gies students.

We invite you to join us

Contact us at to learn more about joining our qualitative research community.


Funding for INQUIRE is provided by Gies College of Business and the University of Illinois President’s Distinguished Faculty Recruitment Program, a fund that provides resources to enhance the international reputation of the University of Illinois System.