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The qualitative research interview


  • Sandy Q. Qu
  • John Dumay


Purpose - Despite the growing pressure to encourage new ways of thinking about research methodology, only recently have interview methodologists begun to realize that “we cannot lift the results of interviewing out of the contexts in which they were gathered and claim them as objective data with no strings attached”. The purpose of this paper is to provide additional insight based on a critical reflection of the interview as a research method drawing upon Alvesson's discussion from the neopositivist, romanticist and localist interview perspectives. Specifically, the authors focus on critical reflections of three broad categories of a continuum of interview methods: structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews. Design/methodology/approach - The authors adopt a critical and reflexive approach to understanding the literature on interviews to develop alternative insights about the use of interviews as a qualitative research method. Findings - After examining the neopositivist (interview as a “tool”) and romanticist (interview as “human encounter”) perspectives on the use of the research interview, the authors adopt a localist perspective towards interviews and argue that the localist approach opens up alternative understanding of the interview process and the accounts produced provide additional insights. The insights are used to outline the skills researchers need to develop in applying the localist perspective to interviews. Originality/value - The paper provides an alternative perspective on the practice of conducting interviews, recognizing interviews as complex social and organizational phenomena rather than just a research method.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandy Q. Qu & John Dumay, 2011. "The qualitative research interview," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 8(3), pages 238-264, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:qrampp:v:8:y:2011:i:3:p:238-264

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John C. Dumay, 2010. "A critical reflective discourse of an interventionist research project," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 7(1), pages 46-70, April.
    2. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/9498 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Michael Fakoya, 2015. "Adopting material flow cost accounting model for improved waste-reduction decisions in a micro-brewery," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 1017-1030, October.
    3. Raffaele Fiorentino & Stefano Garzella & Rita Lamboglia & Daniela Mancini, 2016. "Strategie di sostenibilità: dalle motivazioni ai sistemi di misurazione della performance," MANAGEMENT CONTROL, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2016(2), pages 115-142.
    4. Gamble, Jordan Robert & Brennan, Michael & McAdam, Rodney, 2017. "A rewarding experience? Exploring how crowdfunding is affecting music industry business models," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 25-36.
    5. Hall, Nina L. & Jeanneret, Talia D. & Rai, Alan, 2016. "Cost-reflective electricity pricing: Consumer preferences and perceptions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 62-72.
    6. Claudine Grisard, 2012. "Accountability and Bottom of the Pyramid projects: the two sides of the mirror," Post-Print hal-00690956, HAL.
    7. Jung, Verena & Peeters - Rutten, Marianne & Vredeveld, Tjark, 2017. "A Framework for Better Evaluations of Supply Chain Collaborations: Evidence from the Dutch Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industry," Research Memorandum 014, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    8. Michael Fakoya, 2014. "Forced internalization of external environmental cost: experience of a South African Company," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 797-807, June.
    9. Tom Sander & Phoey Lee Teh & Biruta Sloka, 2014. "The use of Social Network Sites for the Employment Seeking Process," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 0702459, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.


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