Posted by: sweadickblog | May 15, 2017

Strategizing interviews: creating an interview plan from your research questions

Exercise 7.2 in the text, Qualitative Research Methods (Tracy, 2013) provides a starting list of questions for creating an interview strategy based on your research questions. In Figure 7.2, the text highlights research from Jennifer Scarduzio (2011) that diagrams the difference between a research question and an interview question. This diagram also illustrates some of the guidelines that the textbook lists for good interview questions, including questions that are simple and clear, non-leading, non-threatening (at least at beginning) and promote responses that are open-ended and thoughtful.


7.1 Diagram.jpeg

Researcher’s Notepad 7.1, p. 145


The qualitative research that I am proposing would involve interviews with decision makers at corporations that are now benefit corporations (B Corps) in Oregon. As of 2014, Oregon has a business filing classification for benefit corporations and according to the Secretary of State’s website, there are over 1,000 businesses registered. Separately, (or in addition) corporations can also get B Corp Certified from the non-profit B-Lab. B-Lab’s vision is that “one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World® and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity.”

The research would address the business conditions under which a corporation decides to become a B Corp and investigate the role of communications in the decision-making process. Specifically, it will use personal interviews to learn if there were internal or external communications that influenced the choice to get B Corp status and what role this status could play in future communications. In addition, it will look at the number and the role of the decision-makers in the process.

The personal interviews will provide insight into the framing of the decision, the specific language used when discussing the importance of the social initiative, and how that compares or contrasts with the business’ core competencies. The interviews could also reveal the motivations and responsibilities of each decision maker.

The plan for the population sample will be to use the convenience or opportunistic sample to make the most use of professional connections and proximity for live interviews. The interview will use a semi- structured approach. This will allow for questions around the foundational topics, follow-up on interesting directions, and the freedom to roam when passionate stories surface.

The qualitative data from the interviewees, combined with solid secondary research, will add to the small, but growing base of research around B Corps. B Corp classification was first passed in the United States in Maryland, as recently as 2010, so the research around B Corps is just starting to gain momentum.

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