Interviews are the most common method of data collection used in qualitative research in entrepreneurship and innovation management. As such, interviews are used to explore views, experiences and beliefs of people in general, as well as their specific motivations to be entrepreneurs and innovators. In qualitative studies, interviews are often seen as one of the best ways to “enter into the other person's perspective” (Patton, 2002, p. 341), which helps to develop thick descriptions, and to analyse culturally sensitive patterns and themes in our social world.
Most likely, if you were to choose a qualitative approach in your Master’s thesis, the data collection method would include interviewing key actors. But how come interviews are so popular? And what is a good interview? How can I make sure that my interview is able to reveal the information that I am looking for? To combat these challenges, this session introduces general considerations to acknowledge before, and techniques to apply during an interview. It gives guidance on questions, such as: ‘should I use a structured, semi-structured or open interview design?’, ‘what is an interview guide?’, and ‘how can I be sure that the informant tells the truth?’.
Alvesson, M. (2003). Beyond neopositivists, romantics, and localists: A reflexive approach to interviews in organizational research. Academy of management review, 28(1), 13-33.
Edwards, R., & Holland, J. (2013). ‘Chapter 3: What forms can qualitative interviews take?’, in What is qualitative interviewing?. A&C Black, pp. 29-42.
Edwards, R., & Holland, J. (2013). ‘Chapter 6: What are the practicalities involved in conducting qualitative interviews?’, in What is qualitative interviewing?. A&C Black, pp. 65-75.
Roulston, K. (2010). Considering quality in qualitative interviewing. Qualitative Research, 10(2), 199-228.
If you are interested to learn more about interviewing, some additional readings are:
Baker, Sarah Elsieand Edwards, Rosalind(2012) How many qualitative interviews is enough.Discussion Paper. NCRM. Available online at: http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/2273/
Gubrium, J. F., Holstein, J. A., Marvast, A. B., & McKinney, K. D. (2012). The SAGE handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft. Sage.
Kvale, S. 1996. InterViews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Roulston, K., DeMarrais, K., & Lewis, J. B. (2003). Learning to interview in the social sciences. Qualitative Inquiry, 9(4), 643-668.
1. Moerman –Interviewing Basics
2. Types of Interviews
Exercise 3.1 – Comprehend
Consider a research phenomenon of interest (e.g. your thesis topic, or the one you choose in Assignment 1), and design three very brief interview guides: one for an unstructured interview, one for a semi-structured interview and one for a structured interview. In your opinion, which one is most suitable for studying your research phenomenon?
Exercise 3.2 – Critique
After reading Alvesson (2003) and Roulston (2010), discuss the authors’ different understandings of assuring ‘quality’ in interviews, in conducting social science research.
Please check. Did you gain an understanding of the following?
- the difference between unstructured, semi-structured and structured interviews
- the role of rapport between the interviewer and interviewee
- you are aware of alternative, non-positivistic views on interviews
If you can answer everything with a confident Yes! then you have achieved the learning objective of this session.