Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Helle Neergaard and Claire Leitch
What have we learned from the preceding three chapters about how focus groups (in their various forms) can be used to advance our understanding of entrepreneurship issues? In particular, is it reasonable to conclude that focus groups are a useful qualitative technique for helping researchers better understand the world of the entrepreneur? Based on personal experience and the limited studies to date that have used this qualitative method in entrepreneurship research, our view is an unequivocal YES! In its various forms (traditional, GSS and on-line) the focus group technique has been shown to deliver useful outcomes for researchers in a variety of contexts; thereby serving to demonstrate the potential contribution of this method as a vehicle for ‘adding to our picture of the motivations, rationales and experiences of small business owners’ (Blackburn and Stokes 2000: 61). As noted by Klein et al. (2007: 2117) ‘focus groups build on the potential for individuals to think synergistically in a group setting. As participants interact, they feed off each other’s ideas, potentially creating a snowballing effect and enabling them to develop new insights that they might not have been able to develop independently’. The outcome of this process is far richer results than would be possible from one-on-one interviews. It is also important to note the critical role played by the moderator in helping to draw out ideas from the group by probing individual responses and encouraging robust discussion.
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