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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Chapter 10: Conducting a traditional focus group

John Watson, Rick Newby, Helle Neergaard and Robert Smith


Much of the empirical research on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has relied heavily on cross-sectional survey methodologies (mail and/or telephone). However, as closed-ended questions effectively require appropriate pre-knowledge of the area under study they are less likely (compared to more qualitative, open-ended questions) to present an exhaustive picture of a relatively unknown area of interest. Worse still, asking closed-ended questions may simply result in confirming the researcher’s expectations without the researcher knowing that important detail is being missed. One way to generate broader qualitative data is through face-to-face interviews. However, Blackburn and Stokes (2000) argue that this method may suffer from the same inherent flaw as surveys, in that business owners may try to give an ‘expected’ answer rather than an accurate picture of themselves or their business. Blackburn and Stokes (2000) suggest that such difficulties can potentially be overcome through the use of a focus group approach because participants may feel more comfortable about sharing their feelings and experiences within a group of peers. The psychological security derived from group membership may be particularly relevant to researching owner-managers as it is likely that such individuals will be more open about their views when interacting with other owner-managers rather than in a one-on-one interview with a researcher (particularly if there is a perceived ‘culture gap’).

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