Handbook of Qualitative Research Techniques and Analysis in Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Qualitative Research Techniques and Analysis in Entrepreneurship

Edited by Helle Neergaard and Claire Leitch

This insightful Handbook introduces a variety of qualitative data collection methods and analysis techniques pertinent in exploring the complex phenomenon of entrepreneurship. Detailed and practical accounts of how to conduct research employing verbal protocol analysis, critical incident technique, repertory grids, metaphors, and the constant comparative method are provided. Scholars new to the area, doctoral students, as well as established academics keen to extend their research scope, will find this book an invaluable and timely resource.
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The critical incident technique: an overview

Claire M. Leitch


It is almost 60 years since Flanagan (1954) published his seminal article on the critical incident technique (CIT), which was developed as a result of research conducted during World War II as part of the US Army’s Aviation Psychology Program for selecting and training aircrews (Butterfield et al. 2005). The aim of the research was to provide solutions to practical problems. To understand the specific behaviours resulting in the success or failure of flying missions, trainee aircrew as well as expert observers recounted and/or identified specific aspects of successful and unsuccessful incidents (Kemppainen 2000). Under the categories of aptitude, proficiency and performance common threads underpinning success and failure were identified, which subsequently informed the critical requirements of each role in an aircrew. The critical incident technique was defined as: A set of procedures for collecting direct observations of human behavior in such a way as to facilitate their potential usefulness in solving practical problems and developing broad psychological principles . . . By an incident is meant any specifiable human activity that is sufficiently complete in itself to permit inferences and predictions to be made about the person performing the act. To be critical the incident must occur in a situation where the purpose or intent of the act seems fairly clear to the observer and where its consequences are sufficiently definite to leave little doubt concerning its effects.

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