Online from: 2004
Subject Area: Accounting and Finance
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|Title:||Beyond rationalisations: improving interview data quality|
|Author(s):||Jenny Condie, (Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)|
|Citation:||Jenny Condie, (2012) "Beyond rationalisations: improving interview data quality", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 9 Iss: 2, pp.168 - 193|
|Keywords:||Cognitive interview, Interviews, Narrative, Rationalization, Rationalization, Research methods, Schema|
|Article type:||General review|
|DOI:||10.1108/11766091211240379 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
|Acknowledgements:||The author would like to acknowledge the financial support this project has received from the UK Overseas Research Students Award Scheme (ORSAS), from a Victoria University of Wellington New Researchers Grant, and from an Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting (APIRA) Emerging Scholars research grant. The author would also like to thank Professor David Otley, Professor Paul Dunmore, and the participants at the Massey University Seminar, the first Global Accounting and Organisational Change Conference, and the European Network for Research in Accounting and Organisational Change Conference in Dundee for their comments and suggestions.|
Purpose – Interview data is often the cornerstone of qualitative field studies, yet problems with getting sufficient, rich, reliable data in a cost effective manner can inhibit the progress of field study research. The purpose of this paper is to describe the use of a novel interview method, the cognitive interview, in an exploratory field study of management accounting change where in-depth access was impractical.
Design/methodology/approach – The cognitive interview was developed by cognitive psychologists for use in police witness interviewing. It has been found to substantially improve the amount of information that subjects recall while maintaining or slightly improving accuracy levels.
Findings – The cognitive interview was found to be effective at gathering rich, detailed data despite the restriction of conducting only one or two interviews at each company. The cognitive interview uncovered information that did not fit with the participants' initial account of events. The structure of the cognitive interview often led participants to provide narrative accounts, allowing narrative analysis techniques such as genre analysis to be used. Asking participants to retell their accounts in reverse order may allow researchers to discern the schema (mental template) that the participant was using to organise their memories of the change process.
Originality/value – In its first known use for business research, the cognitive interview was effective at moving beyond the rationalized accounts that participants often provide initially. Researchers who conduct interviews to collect data may find this of particular interest.