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Doing some data collection

During the planning I offered the interviewee the chance select the time and the place so he would feel comfortable to converse.  He chose to meet in a local mall after work!  I arrived early looking for a spot to set up.  Starbucks was way too noisy, so I popped into Costa 30 minutes before our agreed start.  Unfortunately, my interviewee was late and we begun about two hours after the planned start.

I created a map that linked the critical research question, theoretical questions, and translated interview questions.  I planned an unstructured interview but this map would help guide me if I got stuck.  As I waited with a iced coffee, I went through my questions and my plan.  I noticed that my questions appeared a bit dry so I took the time to modify….

My interviewee eventually arrived.  We sat down for the introductions, and I walked him through the participant information/informed consent form which we then both signed.

I was a bit nervous from a previous experience with recording equipment problems, so this time I doubled up with a livescribe recorder/pen, and my iphone with an external mic.  I asked interviewee to attach the mic to his shirt and we got started with an icebreaker – “So how did you get into project management?….” and we were underway!

What I liked –

I hardly needed to use the questions to guide the interview.  It was just like we were having a conversation.  I was conscious that I was in the role of researcher, nevertheless, as I’m also a Project Manager like my interviewee so there was a unique rapport.  I was navigating what Gill and Johnson describe this as the ‘precarious balance between insider and outsider’ (2010, p157).  My solace was in the idea that I should maximize what ethnomethodologists call ‘unique adequacy’ and move to create the necessary “distance” during the analysis!

On a few occasions the interviewee would use a word that was in some of my planned questions so I enjoyed being able to let the interview flow around the ideas that popped up naturally.  Even more cool – was when the interview went into unexpected places and I felt my own perspectives changing.  I could sense a co-construction of knowledge.

What I didn’t like –

Well at one stage we had the costa coffee grounder going and a screaming child in the background, and I was quite worried about the sound quality.  I was struggling to take notes on things like body language or other non verbals….but the notepad was useful as an object that the interviewee and I used to get ideas across.  I was frequently trying to unpick ideas, words, or statements made during the interview, mostly neutrally, but sometimes I could sense my bias/agenda coming through – and even worse leading the interview.  Perhaps this is a delicate balance.

If there was something that frustrated me a little – was that my interviewee preferred to talk about project managers in the general sense, rather than the self – made worse by the fact that I didn’t realize this for most of the interview.

There was one scare right at the end – I realized that I had not switched on the external micro-phone….ouch!  Fortunately, the internal mic on the phone still worked fine and livescribe worked a treat :o)

By the end of the interview I knew I had some really good material. In fact the material was sufficiently insightful to potentially influence the coming interviews.   Is this a good thing?  In a small way I can see if interviews continue to shed new ideas like this – is there a kind of abductive grounded analysis in progress even if I have not even transcribed a word?

It was almost 10pm, we said goodbyes and I thanked him.  The interview took 1hr 52mins, I was tired – but on my route home I still managed to record some reflections into my phone.  Today, I loaded the transcripts from both devices and its all good.  First interview ready for transcription.  There might be a researcher in me yet!

Six more interviews booked for next week!  Let’s go!!!!

Reference:

Gill, J. & Johnson, P., (2010), Research Methods for Managers 4th ed., SAGE Publications Ltd.

 

 

 

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