Eva Nadai, Christoph Maeder
A criticism frequently leveled at interactionism—the theoretical basis of much of qualitative research—is that it neglects social structure and is limited to micro-social analysis. Anselm STRAUSS’ concept of «negotiated order» is an attempt to overcome these alleged weaknesses and to address the connection between interaction and structure, and between micro-, meso- and macro-level analysis. In his view, negotiations between units of any potential scale, from small groups to nation states, are at the heart of social order and social change. The concept of «negotiated order» has been particularly influential in organization studies. However, it has also met with criticism. In this paper, we explore the potential of the approach for connecting different levels of analysis in qualitative research. We use the example of negotiations on «performance» in businesses to discuss the relationship between micro-level negotiations and organizations and societal discourse respectively. The empirical data were collected in an ethnographic research project which we conducted in three large businesses in Switzerland.