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Beyond rationalisations: improving interview data quality

Beyond rationalisations: improving interview data quality 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. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management Emerald Publishing

Beyond rationalisations: improving interview data quality

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References (36)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1176-6093
DOI
10.1108/11766091211240379
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

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.

Journal

Qualitative Research in Accounting & ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 15, 2012

Keywords: Cognitive interview; Research methods; Narrative; Schema; Rationalization; Interviews; Rationalization

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