Posted by: Alexa Morris | May 14, 2017

Self-reflexive interviewing

Exercise 7.1 comes from Chapter 7 “Interview Planning and Design” (p. 133). The exercise challenged readers to do a self-reflexive interview.

  1. Here is a brief list of the physical traits and demographics that a participant might see or notice during their interview with me. I am a white, female, blonde-ish hair with blue eyes and about average height. Next, the exercise recommends asking a partner to expand on the list. I asked my classmate, Laura, if there were any obvious traits that I may have missed. Laura described me as, “peppy, exuberant and sharp”. Oftentimes people do not recognize traits about themselves, that may be obvious to others, which is why it is important to ask for others’ perspective. For the interview process, it will be important to listen to how others describe themselves, and also note my own observations.
  2. It’s hard to know what other qualities/characteristics about myself will arise during the interview process. I anticipate briefly sharing about my job and what I am studying in school to build rapport. I hope that by sharing a little about myself that interviewees will feel more comfortable talking about themselves and their experiences.
  3. How will my traits impact the interview process? I foresee my traits and qualities will have an impact in the interview process. It is possible that my enthusiasm for the project could intimidate some participants. While I conduct interviews, it will be important to be engaged as an active listener, which will ensure participants have ample time to share their perspective. My interview style will become evident as I begin to interview individuals. I presume that each interview will have its own challenges. To ensure the interview process goes as smooth as possible, I would use a structured interview format (list of questions used each interview and repeated in the same order). The structured interview strategy will make the process easier to replicate.

The exercise above is the task that self-reflexive interviewers repetitively ask themselves because they must consider how their subjective positions might impact the interview process and the results.

Posted by: Erin Stutesman | May 10, 2017

Benefits of Self-Reflexive Interviewing

Exercise 7.1 poses questions based on self-reflexive interviewing, or the process of a researcher recognizing their own physical traits or personal beliefs that could affect their interviewing experience. This exercise asks how the reader would describe herself objectively, as well as how someone else would describe her.

Of course, it can be difficult to look at yourself objectively, but when I try, I decide that I fall into the demographics of white, female, educated, late 20s and above average height. Other notable traits are that I talk with my hands and occasionally have a nervous laugh.

Without telling my husband my opinion, I asked him what he thought subjects would notice about me in an interview situation. He said that they may see me as educated, a good listener, easy to talk to, a “hand talker for sure,” and that my height could potentially be intimidating at first meeting. He also said that he thought that I would keep a professional yet friendly tone, so that participants knew that it wasn’t a casual meeting, but that they could speak honestly about the subject.

I can see these traits being either a benefit or a burden, depending on the type of interview and the subject. For instance, I think my personality could hinder me if I were talking to a masculine man about a sensitive subject. Alternately, I think that my personality would help me when interviewing those with similar demographics and traits to me, such as young, professional women.

I found the below article and chart that shows how researchers who implement self-reflexive thinking can improve the interview process. Instead of simply interviewing a subject and analyzing the results, this chart encourages researchers to consider their own thoughts, feelings and judgements before approaching their findings. When they do begin to analyze the data, it will be easier for them to recognize what is actually new information, and what was an implicit bias.



Posted by: Alexa Morris | May 1, 2017

Crisis Communication on Social Media

You must know who your audience is before communicating risk, if you want to communicate with any hope of success! Lundgren and McMakin (2013) share that it is important to be aware of your audience because “sometimes the audience is broader than you think” (p. 92). On social media, FedEx must appeal to a wide audience, because any adult could be a potential customer. On social media, FedEx can communicate risk best on Facebook and Twitter. This was the case for FedEx most recently on Facebook, during the Oklahoma floods.

First, here is why FedEx cannot communicate risk on Instagram. FedEx provides a variety of shipping options domestic and abroad, as well as international freight, printing and logistic services. On Instagram, they emphasize travel, whether that is by plane, truck or car. Users on this platform will follow their friends and brands that have beautiful and unique photos.

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FedEx lives up to their profile description which is “delivering a more colorful, connected world”. FedEx shares the journey of how packages get one from one place to another in a beautiful way. In addition to great content, they also stick to the theme of transportation, which provides brand consistency throughout their feed.

While their Instagram is focused on travel, their Facebook is focused on programs, services, sponsorship and more, which attracts a different audience. FedEx makes the process of shipping a package look simple on their Facebook page. My favorite aspect of their page is the fact that they embrace user-generated content, like this little boy on Halloween.

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In addition to user-generated content, their content is also intentional about how weather around the world could impact deliveries. Here is one example of risk communication on social media. There is a risk while communicating weather, as in many cases, lives can be in danger. FedEx highlighted weather in a tasteful way that demonstrated how their employees were handling the floods, as people around the country watched the devastation in Oklahoma unfold on TV. FedEx knew their audience which was important because they could post content that fit “the needs of local communities and citizens affected by the crisis, but also have the diverse needs of those who feel connected to or part of the crisis events though they may live thousands of miles away” (Lundgren and McMakin, p. 92). Their audience connected with the content and sympathized with those affected in Oklahoma and FedEx employees.

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Lastly, the Fedex Twitter feed is a perfect blend of their Instagram and Facebook strategy. In addition to responding to customer’s questions and complaints, they feature user-generated content and the journey of shipments. FedEx has not used their handle for communicating a crisis yet, however, I believe they will be ready when the time arrives. FedEx does a terrific job appealing to a wide audience through each of their social channels.

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Posted by: Alexa Morris | April 17, 2017

Recycling for Profit

Over the years, Coca-Cola has framed recycling in a variety of ways to discuss the importance of reducing waste and their habits. The current generation vs. future generation frame is used to drive consumers to action (Bortree, Ahern, Smith & Dou, 2013). Coca-Cola’s recycling initiative in Great Britain encouraged customers to take a pledge to recycle and re-use their plastic in a creative way. This is one example of corporate environmental responsibility that was implemented with the intent to change customer’s behavior.

One way Coca-Cola loudly engaged in corporate environmental responsibility was through the development of a new “2-liter soda bottle made with 25% recycled postconsumer plastic” (Biddle, 1993). The new type of container developed by Coca-Cola was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which allows “the containers innovative packaging design to close the recycling loop, since the same plastics used in the making of the bottles can cycle back into Coca-Cola’s manufacturing process and be reused to make the same product” (Biddle, 1993). Before the new bottle was approved “Coca-Cola had to convince the FDA that the company could handle any possibility of contamination” (Biddle, 1993).

The effort to develop a new bottle strongly exemplifies the taking less vs. doing more framing strategy (Bortree et al., 2013).  First, Coca-Cola’s new bottle commends the corporation’s work towards environmental conscious production. The Harvard Business Review shared, “this pioneering work by Coca-Cola and the FDA, some of the outdated government regulating for hygienic quality in the packing of recyclable have been changed” (Biddle, 1993). Coca-Cola changed their environmental habits and drove other companies to think about their impact, rather than focusing on the consumer’s action. Coca-Cola created opportunities for other companies to develop other food and beverage containers made from postconsumer plastics. This new initiative does not focus on driving consumers to change their behavior. Instead, consumers are empowered to do more by supporting the corporation (aka Coca-Cola) that is doing more to help the environment.

Today as consumers continue to pivot toward soda alternatives, Coca-Cola must hold consumer’s attention, perhaps by solving environmental problems for the current generation. However, it’s possible after the Pepsi commercial last week that consumers will want the beverage industry to stay out of the ‘doing more’ space for awhile. Either way,  it will be important for Coca-Cola to engage in new ways, because according to Forbes in 2016, soda consumption fell to a 30-year low in the United States (Kell, 2016).

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Posted by: laurahaneyjackson | April 10, 2017

Exercise 4.1 Self-Identity Audit

When building the foundations of a research project, it’s important to consider how personal characteristics may influence observations. Can my own personal attributes bend the lens through which I observe the world? Absolutely. In order to understand my own biases, a self-identity audit can be a helpful tool.

From a basic demographic perspective, I observe the world around me as a Caucasian female in her mid-thirties, who is married to a male. How might each demographic marker impact my perspective? As an individual, I may be more likely to assume that another female who looks like me would also have similar characteristics. As a qualitative researcher, I must not make any assumptions. If it’s pertinent to the research it should be a question that I ask of the subject directly.

From a social perspective, I’m a DINC (Dual Income No Children), agnostic, well-educated and fit. I have an average build. My personality is friendly and enthusiastic. Friends describe me as tenacious and driven. How might these attributes impact my perspective as a researcher? If I were to place myself in the example used in Researcher’s Notepad 4.3, Nouveau Jail, I would be wise to leave any ego or individual traits about myself checked at the door. Too much enthusiasm may be off-putting to employees of the jail. It would be wise to observe body language and word selection of the individuals I encounter throughout the visit.

A majority of prison employees are male. Because of my social and physical attributes, I would need to accept that the research subjects may not want to readily open up and share info with a young, female graduate student. Liminality is a tactic a researcher may use to observe from a healthy distance. Acting as a gentle observer who is just outside the thick of it could create an opportunity to gain insights and context. I may observe a situation or sequence of events and apply my own interpretation. It would be wise to ask the subjects to speak of the events from their own perspective before asking my own questions.

In Notepad 4.3, Visit 5, the author emotes on feeling the officers do not trust her yet, and as a result, they prevent her from observing the booking area. The researcher expresses anger and embarrassment, feeling dismissed and disrespected as an outsider. These are emotions anyone may feel in a professional setting as well. Is there something about her presence that may have been perceived as a threat to the officers? It’s likely the fact that she is an educated female created a bias in how the officers viewed her.  As a researcher, she must persist and learn when her own emotional response may influence her research.


Exercise 2.2 Research Problem and Questions

Why do women in the United States vote to elect and support people who are against women’s rights and/or equality? Do these women fall within a grand narrative of their own making or one that has been crafted by men? What other factors influence the actions of these women versus the structure of the communities in which they live?

From Phyllis Schlafly, the outspoken activist who fought against equal pay for women, abortion rights and feminism in general, to the women who voted against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump, a long line of social and political events have cemented the presence of women who vote and/or work against equal rights for women. As a woman, it is inconceivable that women still earn less than men, and that women comprise less than 25% of US Senate and Congressional seats. These sensitizing issues and the fact that so much gender inequality still exists are what motivate this research.

The phenomenon of women voting against their own best interests, or more appropriately, the rights of their own gender, is not new. It is not widely understood, though, beyond the satisfice of individual factors such as religion and/or geographic location. Only an emic, qualitative study will provide the inductive, phronetic approach to lead to a fuller, more nuanced answer. For example, quantitative research might reveal that a certain percentage of these women belong to a specific religion; however, that data does not expose the personal stories and/or experiences of these women, both in society and at home.

As a bricoleur, I would like to use information gathered from interviews with and stories from individual women, quantitative data about their religious and marital status and education. Additionally, it would be insightful to study impressionist tales, as available, from several of the women belonging to the studied group.

Posted by: Erin Stutesman | April 9, 2017

The Ethics of Identifying Difficult Populations

Exercise 11.1 of Qualitative Research Methods (Tracy, 2013) asks us about recruiting difficult populations, using workplace bullies as an example. This population is difficult to identify because they typically do not associate as such, whether through denial, shame or ignorance. As a result, most studies have focused on bullies’ victims. However, it could be extremely valuable to hear from bullies to understand their motivations. Researchers could then strategize how to prevent workplace bullying. Let’s examine some options on how to best conduct qualitative research on this tricky subject.

One potential opportunity is to unknowingly recruit bullies into an interview study with advertisements that read, “Do you have problem employees?” or “Do you have trouble controlling your irritation with your employees?” However, the phrasing of these questions implies that bullies are always in supervisory positions, which is not necessarily true. It is also possible to have frustration managing employees but not be a bully—for instance, a newer manager may not have much experience with difficult situations and could therefore feel frustration. These questions could be rephrased to ask: “Are you impatient with your colleagues?” or “Do you find working with other people frustrating?” or “Do your co-workers dislike you?” There is still a possibility that non-bullies would respond, but these questions aim to be more specific.

An unethical way to identify bullies would be to ask people to identify their former high school bullies and then have researchers recruit those bullies to ask about their jobs and leadership style. This tactic is unethical because that information is extremely subjective and relies on one population’s word against another’s—researchers do not know the circumstances of the former high schoolers experience, and cannot verify that they were bullied or not. Furthermore, people are capable of growth and change, especially after high school. Just because they were bullies as teenagers does not mean that they continue to be toxic in the professional world.

Once researchers are confident that they have recruited bullies, there are still further ethical implications to consider, such as how to avoid the “bully” label with participants, yet still use the data. One tactic could be to phrase interview questions around the subject of bullying, such as “Have you ever been called a bully?” or “Do you think you treat colleagues fairly?” These questions give participants the opportunity to consider their actions and respond honestly without automatically labeling them as bullies.

Posted by: sweadickblog | December 5, 2016

My New Click Bait: Social Innovation

After all of our research on social innovation, classmate Alexa Morris and I both had a similar experience on the internet. We had a new “click bait” article come across our news feeds: “Donald Trump: Herald for Social Innovation” from My idealistic side did not want to equate social innovation with Trump in any fashion, but I had to click it. I quickly learned that the article was angling more toward social innovation and seemed to use Trump and the awakening of the divisions in America as a wrapper.

Social innovation offers the next wave of opportunity for corporations to address society’s largest problems, while adding to their bottom line. Corporate social innovation (CSI) is all about transparency of intent to improve society in a way that aligns with the business’ core competencies and is a benefit to shareholders and consumers alike. The next generation is pushing CSI forward and believes that their role in society is to create change and lasting impact on the world’s largest problems.


A visual look at CSI from KPMG Social Innovation Report, FY14.

I hesitate to write the word because I know the “algorithm” is going to be coming for me, but it’s true, Millennials “don’t just want to merely do good; they want to solve world problems” (Saul, 2011, p. 98).


Posted by: Keegan Clements-Housser | December 5, 2016

The Case for (Dishonest) Communcations


In his article “The Case for Communications” published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Sean Gibbons makes a strong case for the importance of communications in non-profits and foundations.

He points out that organizations that are particularly good at communication, especially new communication that is primarily spread on a grass-roots level, tend to be much more effective at accomplishing their missions. One example he cites is the social media uproar that happened after the poaching of Cecil the lion,  a campaign started, managed, and encouraged by the World Wildlife Fund. According to Gibbons, their efforts increased media coverage of illegal poaching by 270 percent. It’s undeniably an impressive number.

So what happens when a non-profit or foundation puts forward a communication strategy that actively presents falsehoods as truth? A particularly noteworthy example would be the National Rifle Association (NRA). A quick check of their PolitiFact profile reveals that far more of their public claims are false than true. There have been several extensive articles by a multitude of publications documenting their misinformation campaigns. The narrative they weave is objectively false and misleading. Yet it cannot be denied that it’s a very successful strategy, and the NRA’s rhetoric shapes the political views of millions of members.

Gibbons is right—communication strategies are incredibly potent tools. It can be used to tackle important, critical challenges faced by humanity; or, it can be used to spread fear and misinformation. Media professionals take note, lest we remain complacent or worse: fall into the same trap.

Posted by: laurahaneyjackson | December 5, 2016

Information Laundering


After spending hours on the internet researching Political Satire as a topic for our final white paper of the year, and poring through multiple scholarly journals and news pieces about the role of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report in the field of journalism, it’s only appropriate that the algorithm of the internet dropped a new piece, about none other than Jon Stewart, into my Facebook news feed. Even more fitting was the theme of the piece— fake news.

In the article, Stewart contends that the media has become an “information laundering system” in which news from unverified sources is making its way into the mainstream. He goes on to point out that media outlets are utilizing second-hand reporting, and in some cases, using blogs from unknown credibility in order to source an article. Within the final published piece, the author may ultimately opt to not cite the source due to its questionable credibility. Because the mainstream media subsequently covers the story, it thus becomes true in the eyes of the viewer. As the ever-reliable media critic, Stewart also criticizes the media for obsessively updating viewers on micro or incremental news updates, pointing out that the move to update undermines its editorial authority.

In an effort to do my part to counteract the information laundering cycle, the article was published on Quartz (, and the author appears to have a legitimate byline and depth of experience.


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