This paper demonstrates that the phenomenographic methodology – the study of variations of lived experience – has the capacity to manage cultural and paradigmatic differences between researchers and participants in cross-cultural research. The process of cross-cultural research presented herein makes a contribution to the existing body of knowledge about the efficacy of phenomenography. This process was developed from a phenomenographic research project in Northern Uganda and from due consideration of other cross-cultural phenomenographic studies. The study of experience in cross-cultural education projects provides an opportunity to understand participants’ conceptions of inner (psychological) and outer (socio-cultural) learning processes. A phenomenographic methodology necessitates the organisation of categories of description into a holistic ‘mental model,’ which may comprise metaphoric representation. The use of metaphor in phenomenography to depict the categories of description as a whole was found to be particularly powerful in this cross-cultural research study as metaphor helped to establish common understandings between researchers and participants. Furthermore, phenomenography also has the potential to help manage the influences of internationalisation in local contexts as its methods give primacy to local participants’ experiences.
International Journal of Research & Method in Education / Vol. Article in press