Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Helle Neergaard and Claire Leitch
Chapter 9: A critical incident technique approach to entrepreneurship research using phenomenological explicative data collection
Critical incident technique (CIT) is a set of procedures for collecting direct observations of human behaviour in such a way as to facilitate their potential usefulness in solving practical problems (Andersson and Nilsson 1964; Ronan and Latham 1974). In both its original application and in many of the subsequent applications in a range of contexts, CIT focuses specifically on the identification and study of specific observations of extremely good or bad performance. For Flanagan (1954), a typical CIT study should follow a five-step process (…lvingson et al. 2002; Urquhart et al. 2003): 1. Determine the general aim of the studied activity, to be able to determine what is critical or not and whether the critical incident contributes to achieving the overall aim of the activity or not. 2. Develop plans and specifications for collecting factual incidents regarding the activity, including determining who the observers should be and how the information should be acquired. 3. Collect the data through interview, focus group or as written up by the observer, or through record forms and data sets. 4. Analyse the data, as objectively as possible (Flanagan’s injunction), identifying the incidents and clustering them into categories with similar incidents. 5. Interpret and report on the findings, particularly those indicating incidents which make a significant contribution to the activity.
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